Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Constant Gardener” as Want to Read:
The Constant Gardener
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Constant Gardener

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  15,859 Ratings  ·  966 Reviews
Frightening, heartbreaking, and exquisitely calibrated, John le Carre's new novel opens with the gruesome murder of the young and beautiful Tessa Quayle near northern Kenya's Lake Turkana, the birthplace of mankind. Her putative African lover and traveling companion, a doctor with one of the aid agencies, has vanished from the scene of the crime. Tessa's much older husband ...more
Paperback, 576 pages
Published October 30th 2001 by Pocket Books (first published 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Constant Gardener, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Constant Gardener

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 05, 2012 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2013
“The most peaceble people will do the most terrible things when they're pushed.”
― John le Carré, The Constant Gardener


I have been a little reluctant to read le Carré's post-Cold War, post-Smiley novels. Part of my reluctance was borne of some false assumption that le Carré's masterpieces were mostly weighted towards the front end of his brilliant career. 'The Constant Gardener' blew all my assumptions up. It is amazing how le Carré can write such a masterful novel and such a popular book. Many
Sep 18, 2013 Zanna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
I made rapid progress through this long book thanks to an intriguing plot, empathy with the protagonists, a serious socio-political backdrop and plenty of interesting peripheral characters.

Le Carre has been very careful to make Tessa and her husband Justin humble, passionate and self-effacing, since the role of White Saviour in Africa is, to say the least, problematic. Tessa is almost beyond reproach, and the book was overly morally comfortable for me with its predictably ignorant, self-interest
One of the reviewers on Amazon complained that this book had little to do with gardening. Good grief!

I think Le Carre has made the transition from Cold War spy novels to contemporary issue thrillers quite handsomely. In this book, he really goes after the pharmaceutical companies, accusing them not only of unethical practices using Africans as guinea pigs, but also suggests they would kill anyone whom might deign to challenge their unholy hegemony.

It's also truly a great love story. The relatio
Dec 21, 2008 Bmbs rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In the 60’s I distinctly remember reading two of the authors earlier books, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and the Looking Glass War. With no pun intended I read them in a small town in Germany, a town located not too far distant from where the fictitious events of the stories took place. They were really good books.

Returning to him some 40 years later proved, for me, something of a disappointment. There is only a fleeting reference to gardening so horticulturist need not get their hopes up b
Kaitlin Turner
Jan 25, 2009 Kaitlin Turner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first impression of the book was not good. The beginning was slow, and seemed like something my Dad might read; something mundane and unoriginal with cheap thrills. I kept on though, and soon found myself completely enthralled. I could not have been more wrong. Not only does The Constant Gardener deliver clever suspense and thrills, but it also has a strong emotional pull. The strongest part of the book is probably its intelligent and complex plot which involves major pharmaceutical companies ...more
My first Le Carre, so I was expecting to be thrilled, something cat-and-mouse type of story. After all, someone killed Justin Quayle's wife while she's on a perfectly justifiable, if not very dangerous mission. And it was not a quick death like an assassination----she was stripped naked, possibly raped, had bruises all over her body, and her throat was slashed.

Meaning: It's the kind of injustice that forces Justin to go on a global hunt for the answers.

But the ending is just too sad for me. To
I think this is the only time in my life I've actually liked the movie better than the book, but perhaps my expectations were too high (I hadn't read or heard of LeCarré before this). Basically I'd thought that since it was about pharmaceutical company conspiracies to test drugs on poor Africans and kill people who get in their way, I'd love it... I was wrong, but maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised.

I felt Le Carré didn't address the pharmaceutical issue with enough depth, and focused too m
Jul 13, 2010 Fran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had never read anything by John Le Carre before. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. He is a masterful writer who develops interesting characters and describes scenes with poetic intensity. This is the sort of book I could see myself rereading in years to come. There is so much in it. Clearly the author is so much more than a spy novelist.
Jan 15, 2009 Carrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun book. I read it after I had already seen the movie, and I still found it suspenseful enough that I had to pull it from being my commuting book, and spend an hour on my couch Sunday morning frantically finishing it. Since I already knew what happened, I have to give much credit to Le Carré's ability to spin a plot. It is also very well written, particularly for a popular, mass-market thriller (I’m looking at you, Da Vinci Code). It was a nice post-Cold War twist on a spy story, and ...more
Friederike Knabe
Oct 19, 2016 Friederike Knabe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Where does the creator of George Smiley, expert spy master of the cold war, go find a new theme? Le Carre readers must have asked themselves this question. Fortunately, after a couple of attempts in different directions, Le Carre has found a new cause: Pharmaceutical companies and their dealings, in particular in Africa. He tackles a highly sensitive and complex set of issues. As he says himself in the acknowledgements, in comparison to real life, his revelations are as 'tame as a picture postca ...more
Oct 16, 2007 Krista rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dessertersii
What a tedious read!! This book was about 300 pages too long. The topic should have been interesting but LeCarre found a way to make it boring. I also watched the movie in the hopes that it would improve my opinion of the book. Didn't work.
Feb 23, 2013 Erin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
People raved about this novel, but I thought it was boring and predictable, and had too much dialogue. Woman is murdered in Kenya for investigating whether drug companies are using people as guinea pigs. Her husband solves the mystery.
This was a fun break from my typical reading routine. I do like a serious spy/detective/crime thriller from time to time. Actually, I ought to read them more often. This one inspired me to really get a handle on the issues related to pharmaceutical R&D and global distribution.
Francisco Márquez
It took me an eternity to finish this book because of a universal conspiracy to keep me on my toes and away from it. Luckily, after a series of difficult tribulations I got to finishing it, and thank God I did. This was my first Le Carré book and definitely not my last.

Possibly one of modern literature's most enthralling narrators of its time, Le Carré creates a carefully calibrated and well-researched story in the politically relevant novel. His deliberate choices as a storyteller are admirabl
Arun Divakar
Jan 12, 2011 Arun Divakar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Human tragedy as an occurrence is very much similar to clay; it can either drive humans to the vilest acts of insanity or the most humane of actions. Natural disasters, accidents and countless other instances bear witness to such acts each day & everyday across the world. Tragedy in individual life of a fictional character on the other hand gives rise to literary gems (a la Shakespeare & the gang) or movies (read tear jerker/pay back movies). The backdrop of John Le Carre’s The Constant ...more
I've been hearing great things about John Le Carre, so I picked up The Constant Gardener. I knew nothing about the book, except that it was made into a movie which got good reviews.

I can't say I was floored. The plot is pretty transparent to everyone but the protagonist, who would know immediately what's going on if he'd read the back cover blurb. Instead of being a thriller full of unexpected twists and turns, the reader has to wait for the protagonist to catch up. When the plot drags behind th
The Constant Gardner by John le Carre. I loved it; I don't know that I've enjoyed a book more (although I've liked some as much). I liked Smiley and the other characters, well, John le Carre's books; I'm so glad I got to read this one. It focuses on the drug industry and how some things contribute to problems, rather than help them. It also focuses on the diplomatic life in an African country right before the colonial regime changed into sort of a more local one. There are alot of implications. ...more
Rita Araújo
Este é um romance sobre os limites do homem na luta pelos ideais, na ambição e, sobretudo, no amor.

Entre outros assuntos, destaco também:

* O capitalismo sem escrúpulos e as conspirações globais: onde acaba a paranóia e começa a verdade?;
* O encobrimento governamental de realidades totalmente degradantes, partindo da conivência à participação activa nos crimes;
* Pobreza do Terceiro Mundo versus a riqueza das potências ocidentais;
* A importância das agências não governamentais para a sobrevivência
Nov 24, 2015 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in what really goes on in the world, Le Carre fans
It is difficult to find fault with this book, so I won't try. I have always enjoyed Le Carre's work, partly because he has connections that enable him to find out about things that are not usually talked about publicly; partly because his writing is sublime.

Mr Le Carre knows how to tell a story and this is one of his best. It builds slowly but surely to its shocking but almost inevitable conclusion and the way it's done keeps you reading with interest to the end. The end itself leaves you a bit
Etienne Mahieux
Aug 06, 2013 Etienne Mahieux rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
J'ai vu le film. Vous avez vu le film (sinon, voyez-le, il est bien). Vous savez donc que ce jardinier est un diplomate de second rang à la mission anglaise de Nairobi (Kenya) dont la femme, bénévole humanitaire jusqu'à l'activisme, est retrouvée massacrée loin de la capitale. Apparemment, Justin Quayle s'en tient à une exquise réserve britannique et ses émotions ne semblent pas en mesure de submerger sa politesse. En fait il est fou de douleur et s'apprête à disparaître, pour reprendre le flamb ...more
Jan 23, 2012 Kendra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Crime Fiction
Recommended to Kendra by: verona
Shelves: crime-fiction
The genius of The Constant Gardener is that, for a week, I lived in John Le Carré's head. I probably should have tried to finish the book more quickly, because Le Carré's head isn't always a comfortable place to be. When I dreamed at night, all of the characters were named Tessa and Justin, which just goes to show you how much this story got under my skin. I can't fault the book, or Le Carré, in the least. The Constant Gardener is beautifully written, its pacing excellent, its characters superb ...more
Philippe Malzieu
Feb 16, 2014 Philippe Malzieu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When this book was publied, I studied health économy at university. I came one morning with it and it caused embarrassement among people. Is this book so dangerous for pharmacological industry?
The story is simple. A man stubbon and naïve decide to fight againt pharmacological power. That will finish badly.
The problem is not there. It s the first book who talk about health, pharmacy, corruption..a salutary book
Woof. Awful. So this is the source material for bad Hollywood movies.
The author claims traits for his characters, instead of showing them to you. The plot is dull. le Carre doesn't play fair with the readers. There's nothing you could have figured out. He just reveals plot points out of nowhere with no foreshadowing.
A giant waste of time.
Sep 18, 2015 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely gripping, fascinating, well researched, sad and feeling like truth. This is one of the best books I've ever read, the Le Carre I had heard tell of! Brilliant in every way.
Sep 08, 2011 Deanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't feel like such a big book when I was reading it, in fact I didn't want it to end.
Very neat plot, though complicated and only wish that I could write as well.
Emi Bevacqua
Oct 10, 2016 Emi Bevacqua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a fan of mysteries but had to read this for book club, and am glad. Le Carre's writing is beautiful and has a purpose. In the case of The Constant Gardener, the issue is Big Pharma's effect on the Third World, vis a vis the British High Commission in Nairobi. I liked how good the good guys are, as much as I was revolted by the super bad bad guys.
Sandra Newman
Oct 05, 2013 Sandra Newman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I seem to be doomed to read all of le Carré's books before I die, in the same way some people are apparently doomed to see all of Woody Allen's films, even though they haven't liked any of them since Sleeper.

Anyway, this isn't exactly the Broadway Danny Rose of le Carré novels, but it's not his best. The main flaw in the book, as far as I'm concerned, is that the dastardly plot, by which all the characters are horrified, actually seemed pretty tame, if you paused to reflect on it. So...

Simon Mcleish
Jan 24, 2013 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in October 2002.

One of the major issues that faces our generation, one which receives relatively little publicity and which seems quite intractable, is how large corporations can be controlled by public opinion, particularly their operations in Third World countries desperate for money. Stockholders continue to put short term profits ahead of other concerns - such as humanitarian and environmental ones - and are frequently able to exert considerable pressure
Geoffrey Fox
John LeCarré here sets in motion a dozen or more morally and psychologically complex characters in many directions at once, leading into three major stories and at least a half a dozen lesser ones. The framing story is about Big Pharma, the enormously wealthy multinational pharmaceutical companies which can cure you or kill you to make a profit, and the people who try to be sure they do mostly good things and curb its corrupt tendencies. The second is an adventure story of a lone man, the "const ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Change description 2 16 Dec 12, 2015 04:31PM  
  • The Beast Must Die (Nigel Strangeways, #4)
  • Mientras vivimos
  • The Ministry of Fear
  • The Remorseful Day (Inspector Morse, #13)
  • On Another Man's Wound
  • Poetic Justice (A Kate Fansler Mystery #3)
  • Dirty Tricks
  • Faith (Bernard Samson, #7)
  • The Great Impersonation
  • It's Our Turn to Eat
  • The Last King of Scotland
  • Journey Into Fear
  • La reina oculta
  • The Spies of Warsaw (Night Soldiers, #10)
  • Democracy
  • The Four Just Men  (The Four Just Men #1)
  • The Madman of Bergerac: Inspector Maigret #16
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...

Share This Book

“Tessa distinguished absolutely between pain observed and pain shared. Pain observed is journalistic pain. It’s diplomatic pain. It’s television pain, over as soon as you switch off your beastly set. Those who watch suffering and do nothing about it, in her book, were little better than those who inflicted it. They were the bad Samaritans.” 26 likes
“The most peaceble people will do the most terrible things when they're pushed.” 16 likes
More quotes…