Antof9's Reviews > Smiley's People

Smiley's People by John le Carré
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's review
Dec 02, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: 2008-read
Read in January, 2008

This was my first Le Carré, and I enjoyed it. Having heard his name for at least my entire adult life, I always thought I should have read one of his books. Well now I finally have! I will say this, though -- it's not the kind of book to carry in your handbag and read for 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there. It's really a 2-hours-at-a-time book, and I feel I didn't quite do it justice by reading it in smaller chunks than that. It's a spy novel, and there's quite a bit of intrigue, not to mention lots and lots of names to remember. Those kind of books need to be read in long sittings.

His writing is brilliant. I hadn't even passed the first page when I marked a spot I loved. It's the kind of description I wish I'd written, it's so good:
...a stocky woman of about fifty, carrying a shopping bag, emerged from the darkness of an old warehouse and set off, full of her usual energy and purpose, along the pavement to the bus-stop. ... The heat, fouled by exhaust fumes and unwashed by the slightest breeze, rose at her like the heat from a lift-shaft, but her Slavic features registered no complaint. She was neither dressed nor built for exertion on a hot day, being in stature very short indeed, and fat, so that she had to roll a little in order to get along. Her black dress, of ecclesiastical severity, possessed neither a waist nor any other relief except for the a dash of white lace at the neck and a large metal cross, well fingered but of no intrinsic value, at the bosom.

I also liked the dialogue in this. For example, Connie says, "So if that's what you're after, you can tell Saul Enderby to shove it up his smoke and pipe it." LOL!

And then, because I always like book-related connections, I was tickled when one of the characters mentioned reading Turgenev's Spring Torrents (called Torrents of Spring in the book). It's always fun for me to run across something like that!
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