Smiley's People

Smiley's PeopleIf you have ever been curious about exploring John Le Carr s writing, this Trilogy titles listed in order in the next paragraph from his George Smiley series would be a great place to launch from I learned in the author s notes that his intention was to continue the conflict story between George Smiley and the head of Russia s most top secret intelligence agency for several novels However, T.V and movies got in the way the key characters had become so closely associated with the actors who played them that John Le Carr started to lose sight of his own vision of them He then decided to close that arc with this novel, although there are still two books in the George Smiley series I can t wait to find out what they are about For this trilogy summary, I am going to borrow some Paulingo Paul s lingo It s the bottom of the 9th and the score is 0 0 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is on second base and The Honourable Schoolboy is on first Along comes Smiley s People and John Le Carr hits it out of the ballpark and brings them all home in a 3 0 win for the good guys This story is remarkable as the plot is both intricate and meticulous while at the same time filled with intrigue and fascinating characters who carry it forward This was a truly memorable story and although I would love to write , it would be impossible without spoilers.I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this novel and highly recommend this Trilogy to anyone who wants to refresh their acquaintance with George Smiley et al, or for those who are new to John Le Carr s writing and not sure where to start. The conclusion of the trilogy that starts with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy but, while that book is about betrayal, this one is about manipulation The heartbreaking message is that, when you want to manipulate someone, the most effective approach is not to try and exploit their weaknesses Needless to say, that can work too But the very best way is to exploit their kindness, their decency, and the things that make them a worthwhile human being It s been done in many other books too, of course, though rarely as well as le Carr does it here. What is so exhilarating and fulfilling about reading le Carr is the sense of genuine intelligence at play, both in the characters and in the author There are different ways of trying to convey great cleverness in a literary character one approach is to give them superhuman deductive skillsla Sherlock Holmes, you know I perceive, sir, that you have recently returned from a hunting excursion in Wiltshire and that your wife s tennis partner owns a dachshund called Gerald But my dear fellow, how could you possibly Quite elementary the leaf that adheres to your left boot sole is unmistakably from a holm oak, one of the rarest English trees, a fine specimen of which grows outside Wiltshire s best frequented hunting lodge you may perhaps have glanced at my recent monograph on the subject in the Evening Post which proved so useful in the recent unpleasantness concerning the Prince Bishop of Montenegro And so on Don t get me wrong, I love this stuff but it s a game, it s amusing, it s manifestly nonsense The thrill of what le Carr does in the Karla trilogy and I don t believe anyone does it better is of a completely different order You believe it the leaps of intuition are logical and motivated, and just slightly out of your reach, so that you constantly feel both flattered to be keeping up and somewhat awestruck at how they always make the connections a bit faster than you do It s rather like how I feel when I play through top level chess games, the sense that you can just about follow why they re doing what they re doing the deceptive conviction, as you watch an unexpected rook sacrifice, that it all makes perfect sense and that you would undoubtedly have thought of the same move yourself.This is hard to do as a writer Because writers are often not that smart, even when they re talented Le Carr writes as though he s smarter than all his readers, and when I read him I m convinced The thrills in these books come not from action sequences, but from the plausibility of the dialogue I was on edge during Smiley s calm interrogation of Toby Esterhase here than I ve been in any number of car chase or bomb defusion scenes What to say next How to press them in exactly the right way, without scaring them off In a sense this book is composed simply of a number of these intense, magesterially written duologues stacked together, a stichomythic layer cake Smiley and Lacon, Smiley and Mikhel, Smiley and Esterhase, Smiley and Connie, Smiley and Grigoriev, Smiley and Alexandra and always, at the end, the prospect of somehow reaching the the endgame conversation, between Smiley and Karla It would be quiet and undramatic, and fascinating But then again, the whole trilogy is that conversation being played out.These dialogues are stitched together with a prose style that is economical and unclich d The plot is thick and chewy and le Carr does not cheat with his exposition Perhaps overall The Honourable Schoolboy was my favourite I just love the oblique portrayal of foreign reporting but this is a stupendous end to a brilliant trilogy A lot of books are clever oh that s clever, you might say after a literary trick or a narrative sleight of hand These books are intelligent That s rare enough in fiction as it is, and the fact that it comes in so called genre fiction just shows how distracting such ghettos can be. Note for completists This is the third of the Karla books, preceded by first Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and then by The Honourable Schoolboy While it is possible to read these books out of order and still enjoy them, the later books are informed by the events that come before and definitely spoil salient plot points of those novels.Life has not been overly kind to George Smiley Devoted husband to a faithless wife, dedicated servant to a government that does not admit he exists, archnemesis to his Soviet doppelganger, betrayed by his closest friend Smiley has been through much in his years of service Smiley s People finds the former spymaster once cast out of the Circus of British intelligence, yet another sacrifice to the twisting winds of political favoritism Prematurely aged and tired from a life lived in the shadows, Smiley doesn t quite know how to go about existing without subterfuge.Yet when his old acquaintance Lacon shows up requesting Smiley s help investigating the murder of a friend and former asset, Smiley laboriously pulls himself from his over stuffed easy chair, smoothes rumpled clothes over his mammoth stomach, puts on his horse blanket of a jacket, and tromps dutifully back into the world of intrigue that is his life At stake is the opportunity to finally take down Karla, the Soviet spymaster who has bedevilled Smiley for decades in the great and secret chess game they have played against one another Working unofficially, completely off the books and deniable, Smiley must piece together Karla s plan before of his friends end up dead on a rainy night.Fortunately, Smiley has built up all the resources he would need over a lifetime of intelligence work In the spy game, all the fancy gadgets and gizmos in the world will never compare to a solid piece of human intel, and Smiley knows just who to ask to get the information he requires Visiting retired Circus personnel, from the senile research assistant who helped compile nearly all of the known data on Karla to the disgraced lamplighter Toby Esterhase, who can still muster than a few surveillance teams if there s the chance for personal glory and a return to the game, Smiley pieces together the bits of story he needs in order to weave a trap of his own and conclusively win in the battle of wills that he and Karla have fought for nearly their whole lives.This is what le Carre excels at the slow and methodical piecing together of events, some decades old, into a coherent conspiracy that has a very real effect on the present Field work doesn t play too large of a part in Smiley s methodology He already has most of the puzzle pieces in his hands, it just takes a careful review for Smiley to uncover the importance of each nugget of knowledge Some readers deride this as moving too slowly, but to them I recommend the works of Robert Ludlum Smiley is British, and if Monty Python taught us anything it s that the Brits love their dry subtlety The reader is left even in the dark than Smiley himself and half the fun of the book is trying to trace those connections between events and characters and possibly beat Smiley to his final showdown with Karla.A fantastic end to this trilogy, Smiley stands out as one of my favorite spies ever above Valerie Plame but below the Wen Ho Lee Le Carre proves once again why he is the grandmaster of this genre with this carefully crafted, delicately paced thriller that delivers the perfect conclusion to a rivalry that is far interesting than any battle between Bond and SPECTRE ever was. The best of the best everything a spy novel could possibly be Smiley vs Karla a weakness, a mistake, a brilliantly orchestrated response and of course the bridge into West Berlin.Smiley s People is also a master class in writing when to expand, when to move quickly, setting a scene, using peripheral characters I think I ll read it again But for now, I will go into my class next week at Oxford British Spies in Fact and Fiction as prepared as I can be and ready to learn. This book changed my life My dad, sick of hearing me make fun of his spy novel proclivities, bet me 50 that I would love this book It was a safe bet, too If I loved it, I owed him nothing other than the smug satisfaction of having been right If I hated it, he d give me 50.I loved it I love the entire trilogy, in fact, but since I read this one first, out of order tsk tsk dad it has the special place on my favorites shelf And even though I now own THREE copies, this edition was my father s, which he then bequeathed to me after I raced through the entire Le Carre canon with incredible enthusiasm He always meant to inscribe this edition to me, but he passed away before we had the chance It s perhaps the most treasured book I own because it was his. Smiley s People is the last book in the Karla Trilogy a series that describes the world of espionage during the Cold War The story starts with a revelation by a lost agent recently resurfaced that at the very top of Circus British secret service there is a KGB agent, a mole spying for the Russians And he is there for decades Dangerous, resourceful and one of their own, this double agent is capable of wrecking havoc if he isn t caught immediately and off guard Here Smiley is called back from Retirement to spy on a spy, to draw a web inside the web and then patiently wait for him to walk into the trap From the offset the language of the book has marked British ness to it, the slang, the jargon and even the sense of humour As the story proceeds, the thrill of the game intensifies and one cannot help but admire Le Carr s mastery The second book, though not as a charming as the first one, had a very different tone and setting I found it slightly dragging at times, but the writing was so enchanting that one can hardly complain The third and the final book, pits Smiley and his arch rival Karla against each other The story, unlike the first two books, kicks off from a very thrilling start and keeps the reader on edge Le Carr has a singular talent for story telling, and a keen eye for the details He registers every flinch of fingers, every shift in tone of voice or demeanour and then describes it so perfectly that the reader can visualize the whole scene His insights on the thoughts of a mind under extreme duress, the art of interrogation and reading of small signs in one s body language are worth an entire book in itself There are some recurring themes present throughout the trilogy Themes like Betrayal, Sexual frustration, promiscuity and love There is a general mood of futility to the storyline, a sense of unending trepidation and unrequitedness Maybe its not unique to just this series but is true for most of his fiction A most wanted man, our kind of Traitor where there are no complete victories The success is always short of triumph, always incomplete or inadequate But what really piqued my attention was how painfully all the romantic entanglements concluded, and how pessimistic a view the author takes to such storylines Ricky Tarr, Smiley, Jerry and Karla, all of these men were hopeless lovers, and love was their downfall Love, in Le Carr s fiction proves to be, as Karla called it, an illusion This series is often remarked as the Magnum Opus of John Le Carr In the tradition of Greene and Chandler, Le Carr s fiction is a departure from the glint and glamour of Fleming s Bond series, which gained immense popularity during the cold war period, but which also lacked the grim and nonchalant realities of espionage Le Carr is the real deal The dark chocolate bitter and unsavoury on the first bite but with an intoxicating after taste that stays with you for a long time. John Le Carre S Classic Novels Deftly Navigate Readers Through The Intricate Shadow Worlds Of International Espionage With Unsurpassed Skill And Knowledge And Have Earned Him And His Hero, British Secret Service Agent George Smiley Unprecedented Worldwide AcclaimRounding Off His Astonishing Vision Of A Clandestine World, Master Storyteller Le Carre Perfects His Art In Smiley S PeopleIn London At Dead Of Night, George Smiley, Sometime Acting Chief Of The Circus Aka The British Secret Service , Is Summoned From His Lonely Bed By News Of The Murder Of An Ex Agent Lured Back To Active Service, Smiley Skillfully Maneuvers His People The No Men Of No Man S Land Into Crisscrossing Paris, London, Germany, And Switzerland As He Prepares For His Own Final, Inevitable Duel On The Berlin Border With His Soviet Counterpart And Archenemy, Karla Smiley comes out of retirement was his people come under attack in this aptly named conclusion to the Karla trilogy.This is fantastic stuff Taut tension, high stakes, personal vendettasah, it s all wonderful The characterizations and conversations are finessed with an admirable subtly The Cold War settings descriptions put you in the middle of these depressingly drab locations John le Carr is on fire in Smiley s People It s far cerebral cold war spy novel than say Fleming s stuff This means talk, less action That s going to bore some readers It almost bored off this reader, but I held in there and, man, the payoff Tremendous The last book of le Carre s Karla series might be the best I turned to this book after watching the recent and excellent film adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy I read the book many years ago I don t know why it took me so long to finish this series, since I also loved the second book, The Honorable School Boy Maybe I just didn t want the series to end In this chapter Smiley finally goes on offense against his nemisis, the Soviet spy master, Karla But it takes him over half the book to realize that he has the silver bullet The problem is that to use it is to lose something of himself There is a cost A human factor But Duty and Revenge place Smiley, a good man, on the iron path As with all le Carre novels, there is meticulous attention to detail, coupled with first rate character development all of the characters The atmosphere is heavy, ominious, layered with parnoia Little scenes, like kids bashing a car by a lake, suggest much about the moral state of Modern Man We are living on the edge of an abyss, le Carre seems to suggest, so much so that the one constant, Duty nod to Conrad , can even betray us There are passages in Smiley s People that rival the best of Henry James, Joseph Conrad, and Graham Greene It s Literature that just happens to be genre fiction as well.

John le Carr , the pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell born 19 October 1931 in Poole, Dorset, England , is an English author of espionage novels Le Carr has resided in St Buryan, Cornwall, Great Britain, for than 40 years, where he owns a mile of cliff close to Land s End.See also

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  • Paperback
  • 397 pages
  • Smiley's People
  • John le Carré
  • English
  • 23 September 2018
  • 9780743455800

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