Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy



Since the last book I blogged about, I've actually read two.  I sadly, sadly had to read Bitter is the New Black for my book club, and really hated it.  It's a sort-of memoir about a woman who falls from a high powered corporate job to unemployment and has to learn to deal with quasi-poverty.  It's clear she isn't a writer at heart, because the story has no direction, brings up pointless anecdotes and characters that have no connection to the flow of the story, and overall just annoyed me at every turn.  Apparently some people think it's funny.

After that, I read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John LeCarre.  I loved his book The Constant Gardener, and I had heard a lot of good buzz about the movie that just recently came out.  Some people said it was a really confusing movie, though, so I thought I might enjoy it more if I read the book first.

It's a great read, a spy novel that is written intelligently.  It's set when all good spy stories are, during the Cold War.  It has double agents, spies brought down by love, code names, women thrown in front of buses, all kinds of great espinoage twists.  But it doesn't ever feel cheesy, mostly because the main character is so serious.  He's spent his lifetime in this work, and has seen enough to know the weight of things.  Since we see most of the action through his eyes, his heaviness gives every situation added gravity.  It's no longer exciting for him, even when he's about to nail a Russian leader he's been after for decades.  He does it because lives are at stake, very often the lives of people he has worked with for a long time. 

I definitely recommend it.  It's got great twists, and has a satisfying yet melancholy conclusion.  It's well written with real, developed characters.  I know LeCarre has written other books with the same main character, and now I'm itching to read more.

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