Aug 25, 12
My husband is quite a fan of John LeCarre and convinced me that I should read this one. It is a small novel (146 pages) compared to his later books of 300 or more pages and a little mystery instead of a cold war spy novel. Not being the greatest fan of a mystery novel (I tend to read them too fast, or peek at the ending - because I can't stand the suspense -- or I'm up until the wee hours of the morning because I can't go to sleep until I find out "who did it"), I was surprised how much I enjoyed this one, managed to read it slowly and thoroughly enjoyed the author's writing. I think I enjoyed LeCarre's writing even more than the mystery.
Example: "Smiley himself was one of those solitaries who seem to have come into the world fully educated at the age of eighteen. Obscurity was his nature, as well as his profession. The byways of espionage are not populated by the brash and colourful adventurers of fiction. A man who, like Smiley has lived and worked for years among his country's enemies learns only one prayer: that he may never, never be noticed. Assimilation is his highest aim. He learns to love the crowds who pass him in the street without a glance; he clings to them for his anonymity and his safety. His fear makes him servile --- he could embrace the shoppers who jostle him in their impatience, and force him from the pavement. He could adore the officials, the police, the bus conductors, for the terse indifference of their attitudes.
"But this fear, this servility, this dependence, had developed in Smiley a perception for the coulour of human beings; a swift, feminine sensitivity to their characters and motives. He knew mankind as a huntsman knows his cover, as a fox the wood. For a spy must hunt while he is hunted, and the crowd is his estate. He could collect their gestures and their words, record the interplay of glance and movement, as a huntsman can record the twisted bracken and the broken twig, or as a fox detects the signs of danger."
I may have to read another LeCarre novel.