Josie Brown's Reviews > The Night Manager

The Night Manager by John le Carré
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Jul 04, 2010

it was amazing

I consider myself a John le Carre aficionado, and this is, hands down, my favorite thus far.

We anticipate that his espionage and political threads are strong and tightly drawn. However, what is the true joy of this novel is the emotional depth of le Carre's hero, Jonathan. Driven by retribution and revenge, we get a man (as opposed to an automaton) with heart and soul as well as the obligatory skills of a spy.

In THE NIGHT MANAGER, le Carre's prose is poetry, as exemplified when Jonathan, caught in an act of espionage, makes love to the anti-heroine (whom he covets, but thus far has never touched) by telling her: "I'm obsessed by you. I can't get you out of my head. I don't mean I'm in love with you. I sleep with you, I wake up with you, I can't clean my teeth without cleaning yours as well and most of the time I'm quarreling with you. There's no logic to it, there's no pleasure to it. I haven't heard you express a single thought worth a damn, and most of what you say is affected bilge. Yet every time I think of something funny, I need you to laugh at it, and when I'm low it's you I need to cheer me up. I don't know who you are, if you're anyone at all. Or whether you're here for the beer or because you're wildly in love with Roper. And I'm sure you don't know either. I think you're a total mess. but that doesn't put me off. Not at all. It makes me indignant, it makes me a fool it makes me want to wring your neck. But that's just part of the package."

Trust me, it works. And if you don't get it, then seriously, you just don't get le Carre.
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03/04/2016 marked as: read

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message 1: by John (new)

John I too, am a LeCarré afficionado. I just re-read The Night Manager and I'll say I mostly enjoyed it.

One of the things I enjoyed was its scope - the numerous geographic locations that LeCarré employed to illustrate the global extent of these sorts of operations.

The best thing is, for me, the dialog as well as the exposition. How he can speak in so many voices and how accurately they are rendered and how most things are said with a bit of irony, or world weariness or just plain humor. For example, the character of Corkoran and the way that he speaks as contrasted with Roper-speak and that as contrasted with the denizens of Penzance, or they Yorkshireman - Leonard Burr. LeCarré's ear for Britishspeak and his accuracy in rendering same - one can only stand back in awe and admire. I will say when it comes to rendering the speech of the American actors - there are a few good moments but the same magic isn't there. He just can't quite do what say a Salinger or say a Cormac McCarthy can do for the American dialect which is understandable.

LeCarré's observational powers are formidable as well - so many little bits of description be they of physical objects or be they of human behavior - particularly the latter - leaves on saying to oneself - "Yes that is exactly how that goes - now that you mention it. I just would not have remembered that enough to write it down."

His jaded view of bureaucracies and political institutions is always in evidence - if you need something to be messed up - put a working group in charge of it - have them report to the deputy assistant minister - and have the final report issued in triplicate to all on the following list - he totally gets that and always has and always will.

His sense of place is also formidable - in this book he captures the rhythm and the feel of each place - Zurich, Cornwall, London, Quebec, Miami, the islands - the list goes on and on.

I guess that which I liked least about the book was its unevenness. It seemed like with maybe 80 pages left to go he said to himself - "Right - let's wrap this baby up and put her to bed." At that point the description, the dialog, the humor took a back seat to basically the dénouement, and it's just not nearly so much fun. This "poor finish" is by no means present in all of his books but I feel it was in this one.

I agree that his prose - at it's best is like poetry. And most of the time it's either funny, ironic, "closely observed" (to borrow a phrase from the book), or quite often all three at the same time.


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