Having read several of John le Carré's works, I feel that his particular forte is creating for his characters environments that have an amazing amountHaving read several of John le Carré's works, I feel that his particular forte is creating for his characters environments that have an amazing amount of stress. He ratchets up drama by putting his characters in extremely difficult situations and then continuing to crank up the stress level. Of his novels that I have read, the previous epitome of these super stress levels was The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. However, I think the stress in The Little Drummer Girl tops even that work.
The title character in this book is Charlie, a aspiring English stage actress. While on holiday in Greece with some fellow struggling thespians, the young Charlie encounters a tall, dark and handsome stranger who turns out to be an Israeli spy. The job of Gadi Becker (aka Joseph) is to convince Charlie to take an unique acting opportunity. The Israelis know that Charlie has left-leaning views and through a previous boyfriend has had encounters with members of some extremist groups. The Israeli groups's plan is to have Joseph emulate a captured Palestinian terrorist known as Michel. In this role, he will train Charlie to infiltrate a leftist terrorist group with links to Palestinians. The Israeli spy group's ultimate goal is Michel's brother Khalil who is a major leader in a Palestinian terrorist group. Charlie accepts the opportunity and delves into what she terms "the theater of the real."
I think that the book does a great job of presenting both sides of the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. There is much doubt as to Charlie's true sympathies. In the end, the central question of the book is not on which side of the conflict Charlie will end up or if her mission will be a success. The question is if Charlie will just survive the mission with her sanity intact....more
This book is eighth and final of John le Carré's works featuring his most well-known character, George Smiley. I have read five of the previous sevenThis book is eighth and final of John le Carré's works featuring his most well-known character, George Smiley. I have read five of the previous seven novels, and of those previous works, I think this one is most similar to The Looking Glass War in the fact that Smiley is not the main character but plays an ancillary role. The main character is a fellow spy by the name of Ned who due to the outcome of the Russia House as come to serve as the headmaster of the training academy for new agents. Ned has invited the now-retired Smiley to visit the school and address the new group of recruits.
This book does not read like a single coherent novel but rather like a group of episodic short stories or chronological vignettes. With the background of Smiley speaking to the agents-in-training, Ned reminisces about his own career starting with his first adventure as a young intelligence officer. Each episode is interesting own its own and helps develop Ned into a full-featured character. I suppose the aim of the overall novel is to highlight the themes of the Smiley series as it brings the series to a close....more