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The Naive and Sentimental Lover

3.16  ·  Rating Details ·  882 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
Aldo Cassidy is the naive and sentimental lover. A successful, judicious man, he is wrenched away from the ordered certainties of his life by a sudden encounter with Shamus, a wild, carousing artist and Helen, his nakedly alluring wife.
Paperback, 560 pages
Published September 21st 2006 by Sceptre (first published 1971)
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Aug 05, 2011 Manny rated it liked it
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
Mar 05, 2013 Larou added it
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
Dillwynia Peter
Nov 11, 2014 Dillwynia Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 25, 2014 Joanna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
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
Winifred Holland
Jan 01, 2013 Winifred Holland rated it did not like it
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
Jul 29, 2008 Maureen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: novel, espionage
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
Apr 24, 2013 Wade rated it it was amazing
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
May 16, 2012 Jeanne rated it really liked it
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.
Phillip Frey
Aug 07, 2012 Phillip Frey rated it it was amazing
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.
Mel Horne
May 04, 2012 Mel Horne rated it really liked it
Shelves: not-sure-what
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 .
Jun 22, 2012 Feliks rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-general
A surprising and pleasurable one-off read from--of all the Queen's most unlikely subjects I could name here--none other than espionage kingpin, John LeCarre. Yes, that's right. John leCarre wrote this sweet, awkward, sheepish, contemporary modern romance novel. Why? Does anyone know? Has he ever explained it? Has anyone ever asked him? Would we believe any explanation he might provide for this weird experiment?

It's rather like something one of his own covert characters might do in one of his mo
Karl Marx S.T.
Jul 02, 2012 Karl Marx S.T. rated it really liked it
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
Tom Marcinko
Dec 09, 2012 Tom Marcinko rated it liked it
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
Jun 16, 2012 Gareth Evans rated it really liked it
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
Frances Sawaya
Dec 11, 2012 Frances Sawaya rated it really liked it
Shelves: in-our-library
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.
Kathleen Valentine
Aug 16, 2012 Kathleen Valentine marked it as to-read
I read this years ago and loved it. Now I want to read it again.
Mar 20, 2017 Wilson rated it did not like it
Classic John le Carré characters in search of a le Carré plot. They do not find it. Le Carré's first, and only attempt, at a literary novel does not succeed. He raised genre to the level of art, but his formless, pretentious The Naive and Sentimental Lover is a true annoyance. The characters are annoying, the structure is annoying, the dialogue is annoying. The novel has none of le Carré's crisp writing, bogged down, as it is, in tedious self-involvement. A personal novel it may be, a very long ...more
Simon Mcleish
Nov 16, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned
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
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
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
Jun 26, 2012 Tony Nielsen rated it liked it
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
Jul 04, 2015 Kenneth rated it did not like it
John Le Carre's Bohemian Rhapsody.
Simply put, this is the worst book that John Le Carre has ever written. .One more book and I will have read all of his books,(This is the only reason why I picked up and completed this book). It was painful to complete this reading.
I understand that aauthor too likes to 'go places" and explore other subjects and writing styles, but this book was just plain weird. You can tell that John Le Carre really did live through the 1960's as his characters are iconic imag
Dec 03, 2011 Esdaile rated it liked it
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
Jul 20, 2015 Jorge rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Creio que li todos os romances de John le Carré, um dos meus autores preferidos. Neste livro ele resolve divertir-se (nos), saindo dos seus ambientes de espionagem na guerra fria. Algumas vezes o enredo é um pouco alucinado. Para não dizer uma autêntica "maluqueira". Mas tem evidentemente passagens muito apelativas e não deixa de evidenciar as habituais ambiguidades/complexidades nas personagens dos seus romances.
Uma ultima nota para sublinhar o excelente trabalho de tradução para português. Le
Joy Cantwell
Sep 25, 2016 Joy Cantwell rated it really liked it
This is an excellent story of escaping the humdrum existence of middle class Britain in the early 1970's. Established business man, going about buying a country estate, meets an eccentric couple with whom he both has an affair and falls in love with. The shenanigans that ensue are raucous. Mad trips to Paris and Bern with singing, drinking, dancing, guns and an Irish man in Cork who has a direct line to God. All very plausible too, in a time when people were more carefree and the corporations ha ...more
TJ Wilson
Nov 19, 2016 TJ Wilson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Love le Carré and have been on a le Carré binge, reading through his oeuvre one by one.

But this one, man, was a hard one to read. It's smart writing, and it's funny at parts, but it doesn't propel at all. And I'm not saying le Carré should stick to spy novels; it's just that this one just has unlikable everything in it, including main characters, and it's not crazy or funny enough to work on not having a likeable character. It's political, but the politics are abstract and endemic to the time.
May 04, 2014 Helaine rated it liked it
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
Dec 11, 2014 Josh rated it did not like it
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.
Dec 11, 2013 John rated it it was ok
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.
Feb 06, 2013 Chris rated it it was ok
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.
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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 40 years, where he owns a mile of cliff close to Land's End.

See also: John le Carré - Wikipedia
More about John le Carré...

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