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The Honorary Consul

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  4,094 ratings  ·  280 reviews
Set in a provincial Argentinean town, The Honorary Consul takes place in that bleak country of exhausted passion, betrayal, and absurd hope that Graham Greene has explored so precisely in such novels as The Power and the Glory and The Comedians. On the far side of the great, muddy river that separates the two countries lies Paraguay, a brutal dictatorship shaken by sporadi ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 11th 2000 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1973)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
The Honorary Consul, Graham Greene
The Honorary Consul is a British thriller novel by Graham Greene, published in 1973. It was one of the author's own favourite works. The title is a reference to the diplomatic position known as an honorary consul. The story is set in the city of Corrientes, part of the Argentine Littoral, on the shore of the Paraná River. Eduardo Plarr is an unmarried medical doctor of English descent who when a boy left Paraguay with his mother to escape the political turmoil f
Nov 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Graham Greene has two bonafide/genuine masterpieces in "The Quiet American" & "The End of the Affair," but by all rights "The Honorary Consul" takes a very honorary place alongside "The Power and the Glory"; that is, lesser giants. It too is about these incredibly Hollywoodesque (or legends of) important people making choices & suffering the inevitable... In perfect prose, in lucid detail and exquisite, meaningful dialogue, "Consul" is intriguing and exciting at all times. The characters are ver ...more

Description: In a provincial Argentinean town, Charley Fortnum, a British consul with dubious authority and a weakness for drink, is kidnapped by Paraguayan revolutionaries who have mistaken him for the American ambassador. Dr. Eduardo Plarr, a local physician with his own divided loyalties, serves as the negotiator between the rebels and the authorities. These fumbling characters play out an absurd drama of failure, hope, love, and betrayal against a backdrop of political chaos. The Honorary Co
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sex, love, life, death, whiskey, Catholicism and South American politics – all familiar territory to Graham Greene – but ‘The Honorary Consul’ (1973) whilst revisiting and exploring all these themes, is by no means a re-tread or a recycling of previous Greene novels.

The story this time is ostensibly centred around a bungled kidnapping attempt, all those whom it affects and its catastrophic aftermath. This is, as is more often than not the case with Green at his best – powerful and compelling. Wh
Apr 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Over the last few months I have read several Graham Greene novels and once again another enjoyable read. I can see why this was Greene's favourite novel. The plot about kidnapping gone wrong draws you in to the comedic and tragic story. The betrayal, good versus evil, corruption, loneliness themes in a South American dictatorship is excellent.

Dr Plarr is a weak character in his beliefs and Charley becomes the stronger one even though he is an alcoholic and corrupt. The God that is evil and good
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, argentina, paraguay
“Life isn’t like that. Life isn’t noble or dignified. Even Latin-American life. Nothing is ineluctable. Life has surprises. Life is absurd. Because it’s absurd, there is always hope.”

This story arises from the horrible seventies in South America. Dr. Eduardo Plarr, a Paraguayan exile? expat? refugee? is living in Argentina, having had to leave his English father in Asunción as a young boy, because of his father’s efforts to resist the reprehensible General Strossner - the vicious torturing dicta
Nov 14, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I picked up a Graham Greene novel after a long time and it was pure nostalgia to be transported back to "Greeneland": usually a third-world country with a despotic government, with British expatriates forgotten by Her Majesty's Government, where the men are middle-aged, guilt-ridden and unable to love, men who have lost their faith in God and whose only outlets are the bottle or a prostitute. Where the search for redemption is their only remaining life force.

Dr, Plarr is the central character, a
Lyn Elliott
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s a long time since I read any of Graham Greene’s work, the last being the glorious Travels with my Aunt which I read just before heading off on eight weeks of travel in Europe with my favourite aunt, and during which we encountered no smugglers, bandits, revolutionaries or political thugs, , though it was set partly in Latin America where Greene set The Honourary Consul and other works.

Greene was such a great storyteller that he was able to write a gripping narrative while dealing with grea
Feb 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: greeneland
One of his later novels (1973), it was better than I thought it would be. The same themes: love, betrayal, justice, and faith, with a newer one: machismo. Set in northern Argentina on the border with Paraguay, Dr Plarr, of an Argentine mother and British father, seems much older than his 30 years, world-weary.
Not quite as intense as my favorite 4 (The Quiet American; The Heart of the Matter; A Burnt Out Case; The End of the Affair) but it's still Greene in top form and convincing. (Forget Bel Ca
Frank B
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An atheist doctor? A former priest with wavering faith? An exotic, isolated setting with whiskey sodden British expats? Check all these. In “The Honorary Consul” the local characters are as vivid as the expat Brits, something not always the case with Greene. (Although, I think he did a good job in his African novels of not assuming to know what the African characters were thinking.) Two of the three Englishmen here aren’t really expats at all. Born in Paraguay to a British father and local mothe ...more
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reread, fiction, argentina
The Honorary Consul ranks with the best of Graham Greene's work. It takes me back to my teenage years, when I loved such of his works as The Power and the Glory and The Heart of the Matter. Greene cared a great deal about crises of faith. When I was young, I had none: I was a good Catholic boy. Then, later, things grew more complex. I love that moral complexity in Greene.

This book is about a botched kidnapping. A mixed group of Paraguayan and Argentinian "terrorists" attempt to take the American
Mar 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chloe by: Dad
Shelves: 1001-list, fiction
This was an exemplary read. Comedic indictments of the Latin ideal of machismo, kidnappers who are absolutely no good at kidnapping, the consistently volatile political situation of Latin American countries, the lonely emptiness of the ex-pat, and the utter worthlessness of one man's life when viewed through a Utilitarian framework: all of these themes find expression in Greene's Honorary Consul.

This had been floating around in my to-be-read queue for a while and I have no regrets about bumping
Plenty of reviews already for The Honorary Consul. A subdued, understated quality to the characters here. As usual with Greene, no winners on offer just an overall sense of loss.
From BBC radio 4 - Drama :(31/01/2016)
In a conversation with Nicholas Shakespeare, Graham Greene once named 'The Honorary Consul' as his favourite among all his novels, "..because the characters change and that is very difficult to do."

In this superbly tense story of political kidnap and sexual betrayal set at the beginning of Argentina's Dirty War in early 1970s, Greene's characters find themselves on a switchback ride of love, sacrifice and violence.

Isolated Dr Eduardo Plarr, son of a missing
Nancy Oakes
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk-fiction
another fine novel by Greene -- more to come about this one.
Angst. Too much of it. Apparently angst bores me, whether it be Catholic angst, angst about being incapable of love, angst about being a failure or anything else this motley crew of idiots, incompetents, buffoons, alcoholics and pompous arses find to angst about.

Which is a shame, because when the plot is advancing it's a fairly good story, though the plot turns on an imbecilic decision by one of the protagonists. There's a good, taut, 150p novel struggling to escape all the angst but ultimately
Review first posted on BookLikes:

"The God I believe in must be responsible for all the evil as well as for all the saints. He has to be a God made in our image with a night-side as well as a day-side."

The Honorary Consul is somewhat heavier fare than Graham Greene's "entertainments". The justification of man's actions based on faith or based on the conflict created by the expectations of religious instruction and the reality of life features heavily in th
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, tragi-comedy
Regarded as one his own favorite works, this novel rightly categorized as a tragi-comedy as opposed to a spy novel in Wikipedia ( depicts an unmarried physician in his early thirties called Dr Eduardo Plaar (nicknamed Ted) who has lived in an Argentinian provincial town, Correintes. Interestingly, "The Honorary Consul" itself refers to Charles Fortnum, an alcoholic divorcee in his sixties; when I first browsed its title I misunderstood him as the sole pro ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 'The Honorary Consul', a bamboozled, even bogus honorary British diplomat in a languid Argentinian town is kidnapped accidentally by a band of desperate but equally befuddled rebels from across the Paraguayan border. Nobody cares whether the Consul lives or not which is why nobody takes these rebels' demands quite seriously as well. The situation is ripe for not just brittle suspense but also much cynical humour at the plight of these desperados and at the utter apathy of everyone else to the ...more
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intense kidnap thriller filled with religious despair, South American machismo, tangled love triangles and lots of whiskey. A bunch of revolutionaries kidnap the hard drinking Charley Fortnum (who is Britain's Honorary Consul in Argentina), mistaking him for the British ambassador. His friend and ex-prostitute wife's lover Dr. Eduardo Plarr (who is half English-half Argentinian) sets out to rescue him from the clutches of the kidnappers. Some of the kidnappers used to be Dr.Plarr's friends an ...more
Moses Kilolo
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read any other of Graham Green's work. It is funny that I should have started with this, which is referred to as one his later works. I had mixed feelings from the start. For one, I was excited about reading Green. And, I was drawn back by my own limited understanding of his style, though delicate and touching. Enter Plarr, aged and a doctor of patients he f***s. And the rest of the bunch who orchestrate a kidnapping. Need not be said they know nothing about professional kidnapping. No ...more
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always with Greene, beautifully spare language and an agonising disaster made of several lives because of ideology, belief or lack of it, guilt, machismo, and over all, a lack of love passed on from one generation to the next. Brilliant and almost unbearable to read as the characters blunder ever deeper into the mire.
Justin Evans
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Gabriel Josipovici, in his 'Whatever Happened to Modernism?', slams Greene and most other post-war British writers; he says, I think, only Muriel Spark and someone else are top-rate. He bases this on his own, personal belief that the best writing is self-reflexive. Well, obviously he didn't read 'The Honorary Consul.' Aside from being a great story - up there with my favorite Greenes, Heart of the Matter, Power and Glory, Quiet American, Our Man in Havana - this one's also full of questioning an ...more
Blaine DeSantis
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good book by Greene. I could easily see this being made into a stage play. We deal with the mistaken kidnapping of an Honorary Consul, when the real target is the US Ambassador. Kidnappers want to exchange him for 10 of their kind held in Paraguayan prison. Interesting day by day timeline with lot of religious theology and backstories about the characters. I did not feel a lot of connection with the characters, as it appears that they exist only to espouse certain philosophical views. But it is ...more
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A very typical Graham Greene-novel with all the classic dilemma's the protagonists (with them again a former priest) are confronted with: what is right or wrong? Is there a loving God? What is the meaning of life?. The setting is the north of Argentina and the story revolves around the abduction - by mistake - of a British honorary consul. Even more than in other Greene-novels there are quite a lot of very cynical protagonists, but as always they appear to have their weak sides in time of need. ...more
Roger Brunyate
Not the Best, but Indubitably Greene
Doctor Eduardo Plarr stood in the small port on the Paraná, among the rails and yellow cranes, watching where a horizontal plume of smoke stretched over the Chaco. It lay between the red bars of the sunset like a stripe on a national flag. Doctor Plarr found himself alone at that hour except for the one sailor who was on guard outside the maritime building. It was an evening which, by some combination of failing light and the smell of an unrecognized plant
Sep 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-comedy
This book doesn’t seem to have much of reputation as some of Greene’s other works, which is too bad as it is excellent and even brilliant. In fact it might be one of my favorites. This has every element I look for in a Greene novel but with a stronger emotional charge. The characters with their foibles seem to be a cast for a comedy but instead are players in a heart wrenching tragedy. Like in his Comedians the line between slit your wrist despair and humor is very hard to find though the sadnes ...more
Peter Beck
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
You know you are dealing with a brilliant writer when his 13th most popular novel blows you away. Like “Our Man in Havana,” “The Honorary Consul” focuses on two underwhelming expats in a Latin American country who are sucked into overwhelming situations. “Havana” is one of Green’s “Entertainments,” but I found just as many laugh out loud funny passages in “Honorary.”

At the same time, “Honorary” plumbs the depths of the human experience even more than “The End of the Affair.” What does it mean t
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
There's also a priest here. He giggled too, but only once. I had written before, elsewhere here at goodreads, that I hated "The Power and the Glory" where I found the priest there quite ridiculous. I likewise didn't like "The End of the Affair", finding the characters there unreal.

This one, however, is different. I thought, while reading it, and after reading it: "this is how a story should be told." Highly imaginative plot with a lot of possible logical endings but where no one can possibly mak
Karn Kher
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amongst the better works by Greene. A thriller set in Argentina with dash of theology and Greene's soothing/likeable narration makes this book a good read. Does not move you to tears and doesn't make you laugh out loud but does make you turn pages without giving in to cheap thrills as good books should.
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Henry Graham Greene, OM, CH was an English novelist, short story writer, playwright, screenplay writer, travel writer and critic whose works explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world. Greene combined serious literary acclaim with wide popularity.

Although Greene objected strongly to being described as a “Catholic novelist” rather than as a “novelist who happened to be Ca

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There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
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“I have to think of all the possibilities, doctor. Even a crime of passion is possible.’ ‘Passion?’ the doctor smiled. ‘I am an Englishman.” 3 likes
“I have never met a simple man. Not even in the confessional, though I used to sit there for hours on end. Man was not created simple. When I was a young priest, I used to try to unravel what motives a man or woman had, what temptations and self-delusions. But I soon learned to give all that up, because there was never a straight answer. No one was simple enough for me to understand. In the end I would just say, 'Three Our Fathers, Three Hail Marys. Go in peace.” 1 likes
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