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The Naive and Sentimental Lover
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The Naive and Sentimental Lover

3.22 of 5 stars 3.22  ·  rating details  ·  642 ratings  ·  45 reviews
I have visited Bohemia and got away unscathed. Aldo Cassidy is an entrepreneurial genius. At thirty-nine, he dominates the baby pram market and rewards his success with a custom Bentley. But Aldo's bourgeois life is upended by a chance encounter with Shamus-a charismatic writer whose first and only novel blazoned across the firmament twenty years earlier. The two develop a ...more
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Published July 1st 2011 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1971)
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There's a passage from this book I've often wondered about:
"First there's foreplay," said Helen, speaking as though she were ordering dinner, "then there's consumation, and finally there's afterglow."
As far as Helen's concerned, then, afterglow is just an integral part of sex. But not everyone agrees. For example, Galen of Pergamum seems equally certain of his facts when he says:
Post coitum omnia animal triste est.
I find the contrast rather striking. Is it the case that some people experience af
This is not, like I have seen claimed in several places, le Carré’s first novel that is not a spy thriller (there is also A Murder of Quality, which although it features George Smiley as its protagonist is not about espionage at all, but is a murder mystery) but his first (and possibly only, I have not read them all yet) non-genre novel. It also seems the least liked of his novels, and while it would be easy to dismiss that as fans complaining that they are not getting their customary fare, I th ...more
Aug 06, 2008 Maureen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: espionage, novel
The only novel that LeCarre has written outside of the espionage genre, The Naive and Sentimental Lover is an exploration of the nature of love and obsession. The main character, Aldo Cassidy, is a stolidly successful businessman. When he goes to Somerset to look at house he is considering buying, he meets a couple who are squatting there: Shamus and Helen.

Shamus is emerging as a successful novelist, while Helen's main attribute is her beauty. In a complete reversal of his usual obedience to th
While totally different from le Carre's usual spy novels,he still presents interesting characters & exotic locations. He makes full use of the double entendre and the writing is filled with innuendoes...great fun. One can't help smiling at Cassidy's naivety as he befriends a pair of strange bedfellows and questions his earlier existence. What follows is an absolute romp. Very entertaining.
Mel Horne
I read this many years ago and it has stayed with me all this time! I found it disturbing , liberating , sad and I am still not sure I understood it all ! Those Jaguar Drivers and Gerrads Crossers have a lot to answer for! I think I will have to revisit it .
Dillwynia Peter
The title is typically Iris Murdoch as too the themes - how will Mr Average deal with people outside his norm. And here lies the rub because altho this book is Murdoch co-authors with Joyce, it is in fact a novel by Le Carre; and judging by the comments & reviews the masses have told him he can only write about espionage.

The book has become quite dated & is very much a product of what I consider the bleakest period in 20th Century England - the late 60s & 70s. It might all be Carnaby
Karl Marx S.T.
John le Carré is best known for his disturbing and hunting spy thrillers, for its insights and exciting twist that propelled him in the company of foremost English authors. Although this one can’t be categorize as one of Mr. le Carré’s thrillers, this one still contains his exciting narratives and insightful prose that makes it readable. When I’m on the verge of convincing myself that the novel gets boring and just my respect for the author makes me read this thick novel, then I get interested ...more
Winifred Holland
I have read most of le Carre's work and this is the only one I have really hated. I was aware that it was a departure from his usual spy/cold war espionage genre but I had decided to re-read all his books in the order in which they were written.
I found this book almost impenetrable. It veered around so much and was so apparently hallucinogenic it felt the way I imagine an acid trip would feel.
One of the main characters, Seamus, is one of the most unpleasantly manipulative characters you will eve
Tom Marcinko
Strangest book by this author I’ve seen so far. I knew it wasn’t a spy novel. A very British thing where the strait-laced character meets a couple of wild bohemians who change his life. I didn’t like the bohemians, didn’t see the attraction. But I liked the strait-laced guy. By turns boring, confusing, curious, insightful, and hilarious.

What a weird alternative career JLC might have had, if this book had been a bigger hit, which I assume it was not.

"…but facts about him, like facts about God, w
Gareth Evans
Errrrr! It is very difficult to know what to make of this. I am a seasoned Le Carré reader and have my own categorisation of Le Carré books. Early novels (post a Murder of Quality) are action/office spy novels with Le Carré's magical take on incompetence. Then follows the Karla trilogy and, finally, we have the post-wall thrillers with their idosyncratic heroes. This novel from 1971 has the elements of the later novels (idosyncratic hero) but with no real plot. There are no spies, no thrills and ...more
I haven't read any other Le Carre books and perhaps that is why I liked this book so much. It is unnecessarily long, but is undeniably gripping. It's as charming and funny as it is bizarre.
My interpretation of it is that Helen, Shamus and Aldo are the three Freudian parts of the human psyche. Shamus - wild, child like and pleasure focused - is the id. The calm, rational and balanced Helen would be the ego. And Aldo, who never takes any risks, loves his creature comforts and always minds his P's
I rarely abandon books, and when I do, it is usually within the first chapter, and generally because I dislike the genre or the author's style irritates me. I persevered with this novel for almost 200 pages because I am trying to read all the Le Carres in order, and felt I needed to finish this in order to 'earn' Tinker, Tailor. However, I hated it so much that I felt I had to give up before it irrevocably coloured my view of Le Carre's work. My primary problem with the novel was that it just se ...more
Frances Sawaya
Not at all his usual genre but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Sometimes I thought I was reading an Ian McEwan novel and at other times one by Henry James. The title gave away the theme. Rather a sad outcome for the lead character. The intrigues were beyond him.
Phillip Frey
Aug 07, 2012 Phillip Frey rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the ins and outs of love.
This is such a well-written book that has nothing to do with spies, as most of le Carre's do. This book has to do with love, seduction, and the human condition. Something le Carre appears to know a lot about.
Kathleen Valentine
I read this years ago and loved it. Now I want to read it again.
Very different from the le Carre spy stories, but probably the book he always wanted to write--or maybe wrote before he became noted for the spy stories. The blurb on the UK edition described it: "In describing the agony of a man caught between the two sides of his paradoxical nature, John le Carre has lost nothing of his skill in narrative and suspense. But in the humour, the pain and the love and striving of Aldo Cassidy, we witness the full flowering of his talents. This is a marvellous and m ...more
This is the odd-le-Carré-out - the only one that doesn't have some connection to the world of espionage. I only read it for completeness, thinking it was a sort of romance story but really it's literary fiction. It's about a middle-aged, highly successful, somewhat unhappy businessman (Cassidy) who becomes entranced by an anarchic, charming, child-like writer (Shamus) and also the writer's wife (Helen). I understand that this is generally derided or just ignored by le Carré fans, but I still fou ...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in May 2001.

The Naive and Sentimental Lover is unique in le Carré's outpur. It is not a thriller, but a serious novel; its subject is an obsessive relationship. Aldo Cassidy is a self made man, a magnate in the pram accessory business. He goes to Somerset to view a country house he is thinking of purchasing, and there meets a couple, squatting. Aldo falls for them both; Shamus turns out to be a famous novelist, and Helen is extremely beautiful.

Some people thi
Teeba Abdullah
Honestly,expected much more. This book depicts a love triangle between three extremely complex characters. I was often confused and couldn't figure it out when the main character Aldo, was imagining or whether it was reality. He gets captivated by a man named Shamus and his wife Helen. John le Carre seems like a troubled author and this book really represents his idea of love. He allows a married man to suddenly seek being in a love triangle with two very different people. Aldo is young, and ric ...more
Tony Nielsen
This isn't a John Le Carre spy novel, far from it. Originally published in 1971 this Carre's version of the great British novel, with a compelling story and characters that slip and slide around the pages in a really elusive way. The naive and sentimental lover is Aldo Cassidy, the owner of an innovative engineering company making top of the linbe prams. All based on design ideas that came to Also out of the blue. Aldo has a wife Sandra, and two boys Mark & Hugo. His life takes a abrupt turn ...more
Naive and Sentimental Lovers is plodding and takes forever to get to its end point. The culture clash between the bohemian couple and the businessman (Aldo Cassidy, "pram" manufacturer) could have been interesting, but Cassidy just goes along with whatever Shamus and Helen do. The dialogue is interminable and meandering. Shamus is not as interesting as he thinks he is, which is Le Carre's point (I think), but having to read his verbal diarrhea was not fun.
I read this book when I was very young and have somehow mislaid it in the coursde of the last thirty years but I remember the title with affection. Someone wrote here that the book came from a very personal place of Le Carres and I would say that is right. I might well dislike the book were I to read it again but I cannot give it less than a three since it leaves this affectionate meomory although to be honest I can remember very little about the book. A drunken Seamus who is extremely rich is d ...more
Jude Nonesuch
It's pretty weird.
Cassidy is the wealthy owner of a British manufacturer of perambulator fastenings when he meets a couple dossing down in an abandoned stately home he plans to purchase for a development.

He becomes involved with the couple, the man of whom is apparently a writer of novels.

Although set in the 1960s, it's more in the style of an beatnik novel of the 1950s (like "The Ginger Man"), and quite frankly, it's a bit of a mess.
Robert Spencer
I'm afraid he lost me with this one. I was with him on the whole idea of a non spy novel, and it starts out well. But ultimately, I couldn't get past a few jarring sensations such as:
- isn't Shamus just a bit of a prick?
- Aldo and Helen? Really?
- Isn't Sandra actually a little hard done by?
Ultimately, it's just about 250 pages too long. A little self indulgent, really. Sorry John, I still love you though!
Be warned: this is not a spy novel, but rather an emotional, almost stream-of-conscious work that abandons espionage altogether and focuses on an emotional, physical relationship between two men and a woman. The rating is not for the subject, but rather the flow. Incredibly difficult to read at times, and while the characters are fleshed out, there's a disjointedness that's hard to follow at times.
Atef Attia
un ratage complet: Tout l'univers de l'auteur, l'espionnage en moins. Des personnages en roue libre, pas vraiment d'enjeux, beaucoup de longueurs et de redite, un héros qui ressemble à tous les autres le carré.... laborieux et superflu. Reste tout de même un style particulier reconnaissable entre mille qui ne justifie pourtant pas l'achat du livre.
A éviter, ou alors pour les fans Hardcore!
Marie desJardins
Turgid, overwritten, and uninteresting -- I admit that I simply couldn't get anywhere with this book. I mean, really, who cares about any of these utterly ridiculous and self-indulgent people??
Aldo Cassidy, successful manufacturer of baby carriages, confronts his mid-life crises with the aid of new-found bohemian friends, Shamus and Helen.

I assumed this novel would be a mystery because that seems to be LeCarre's genre. Funny and insightful this turns out to be a mystery of another kind.
Worst book Le Carre ever wrote. I've read them all and I think he's brilliant, but this is a stinker; I only finished it (and I rarely give up on a book) because I'm a completist and I'd decided to read my way through his entire ouevre. Every great writer is allowed a lapse, and this is his.
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John le Carré, the pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell (born 19 October 1931 in Poole, Dorset, England), is an English author of espionage novels. Le Carré has resided in St Buryan, Cornwall, Great Britain, for more than forty years where he owns a mile of cliff close to Land's End.
More about John le Carré...
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy The Spy Who Came In from the Cold Smiley's People The Russia House The Constant Gardener

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