I’m not a particularly big reader of fiction – until a few months ago, I wasn’t a particularly big reader at all, but a change in mental attitude has allowed me to read a number of books since last summer, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. What is more, the release of the film ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’, and the vast population of viewers who left the cinema confused, stimulated me to read before I watched. And, happily, I have finally finished reading.
I say ‘finally’ because it wasn’t a book I read quickly. That shouldn’t imply any fault in the book, however. It was a lack of time (and a number of other books that kept taking precedence) which meant I read this book over approximately 2 and a half months. However, its 400 pages were an engrossing catalogue of realistic characters, engaging dialogue and dramatic plot twists, culminating in the epic conclusion that everybody raves about.
Alas, it was the conclusion that slightly perturbed me. I was aware this was one of a trilogy, and expected there to be a few loose ends. Happily these were few. However, I did find that there was a substantial element to the plot which had clearly been resolved (the narrative made that much evident), but which I hadn’t followed. It’s a bit like that moment when you resume consciousness in a conversation that has slightly passed you by; everyone else seems to know what’s going on, but there’s a crucial detail missing in your own comprehension, and you’re not quite sure how to pick up the threads.
Should you take that as a criticism? Certainly not – only as a recommendation! Don’t spend 2 months reading the book, but get on and enjoy it over a few weeks (and preferably read it alone, rather than mixing it with multiple other books whose contents predispose only to confusion!). As with all books, a level of discernment is necessary, especially considering the characters’ commentary towards the end of the book and the worldview they adopt. However, Le Carré’s amusing writing style and intelligent plot make for a wonderful piece of fiction. The majority of his characters – even those with minor roles – have considerable depth, and his narration conjures the greatest turn of phrase at the most unlikely and unnecessary of moments (‘a puddle emptied itself into his shoe’ being a prime example).
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