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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read!
I read the book after seeing the film so this may have made it easier to follow for me. I absolutely loved the film and while there are quite a lot of differences between the film and the book, I was not dissapointed.

The story follows Justin trying to trace the killers of his wife Tessa. We get to know Tessa through her husbands flashbacks and the story is...
Published on 19 May 2006 by M. Todd

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A plot smothered by narrative.
I became a Le Carre addict two decades ago. But his latest novel has now cured me. The theme - not so much a plot - is relatively straightforward and has great potential. But Le Carre has got carried away with his well known love of character development. Unfortunately The Constant Gardener has no characters of interest, and none of them even approach credibility. They...
Published on 25 Mar 2001


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pack your bags, as you'll be off to Africa, 18 Oct 2006
By 
Mr. R. J. Cervello "Robstar" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Constant Gardener (Paperback)
When I picked this book up I was expecting to read a normal but good thriller that uses a lot of the old thriller techniques. Though what I found instead was a book that at first is rather annoying due to the cringe worthy characters that take the limelight at the begining, this being Sandy and Gloria. Then when the books starts to unfold and you see how the passion and love the is set into Justin to want to find justice not only for Tessa's killer's but the cause she was fighting for, really makes you feel passionate about the story.

As the events unfold we see how Justin's search for the truth puts him exactly where his wife was, we get a clear picture of whom the woman he loves is and the level of depth that he has as a person.

The twist and turns and dramatic events make this book a good read. Though for me what made this book an exceptional story was the simplicity and subtley of the ending, which for me worked magnificantly in its poetic justice to the story.

My only flaws for the book is the shaky start, as the characters are here are not particulary enjoyable to see on page.

Since reading the book I have also watched the movie, and for those of that have only seen one or the other, the true grips of the story can only be found in the book way of delivering it's information to you as the pages turn.

Mind you the film is an interesting take on the story, but does not beat the book and its shameless way of hitting you core on the subject of pharmaworld mafia.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak, uncompromising and marvelous., 5 Jan 2008
This review is from: The Constant Gardener (Paperback)
I have always loved the atmosphere of Le Carre's work and the way his characters use the English language. In the hands of actors like Richard Burton, Alec Guiness, Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan, the dialogue of such works as "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold," "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," "The Russia House" and "The Tailor of Panama" has been brought to the large and small screen with great verve. I haven't seen the film version of "The Constant Gardener" but I'm looking forward to it.

The book is a bleak tale of corporate abuse, British foreign policy hypocrisy, African corruption and human tragedy, with little relief from the sheer awfulness of the story. What saves it from being simply depressing is Le Carre's almost Shakespearian use of the English language and the way he lifts the tale out of the depths of depravity and creates an almost epic tale of how one man seeks the truth - not to obtain justice for his murdered wife, save her reputation, or punish the guilty, but to find out for himself what the truth actually is. As such it conspires to be an inspirational tale, without a happy ending and without the guilty being brought to justice, but with a curiously satisfactory conclusion.

I simply loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good film, Great Book, 16 May 2007
By 
J. LESTER (Cambridge, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Constant Gardener (Paperback)
Having watched the film when it first came out, and really enjoying it, I did something I don't normally do with adaptions, I read the book.

I am so glad I did as I absolutely loved the book. Le Carre himself has stated that the film follows the plot of the book but not the story, and this is so true and part of what made the book so enjoyable for me. It gives you the same story, and conclusion, however along the way there are so many more character developments and plot twists, that it really feels like the film x10.

The story itself is a great one, about a subject that could be dry, but is made both riveting and though-provocking: the matter of medical testing in the Third World. The author achieves this through using the story of a civil servant's wife's murder as a method of developing the real story about exploitation in Kenya.

Le Carre, as he does in all his books, manages to really get into the sights and sounds of the places he is describing and this makes the reader feel like he is in scorching Kenya or drizzly London.

I highly recommend this to anyone, and I definitley plan on re-reading it, in the near future.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, 26 Jan 2006
By 
J. E. Parry "Jeff Parry" (Pontypool, Wales) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Constant Gardener (Paperback)
This is a very long but easy book to read. The story keeps you gripped but never really seems to take off in the way you expect.
As an indictment of Western politics in Africa it does work. What happens in the book maybe exaggerated in its scope but is real. It is used as a testing ground and a dumping ground by western companies.
You sympathise with the African people. You feel that it is wrong to use them in this way. Yet, as the story shows, nothing really changes.
The only real letdown for me was the ending. Not the negative part just before - this is real - but the anti-climatic nature of Quayle's search.
Read it as its well written. I'd highly recommend Le Carre earlier works, which are superior.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable, 13 Aug 2008
By 
M. Ritchie (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Constant Gardener (Paperback)
This book starts off a little slowly, and actually I had to persevere to really get into it, but 7 hours on a train and I was well on my way.

As you get to know the characters there are some very poignant moments in the book (which sadly the film completely irradicated - very disappointing) such as soil being tossed into Tessa's grave and covering the freesias that her constant gardener husband grew for her. It is not a soppy book by any means, yet some scenes are so emotinal that it could bring you to tears (and in my case, on the train, did).

The book is a good old fashioned consppiracy theory, but it is painted in a way that isn't 'crime thriller' and rather an exploration of self as the characters develop and you learn what people can really be capable of.

The book is worth sticking with; I can't imagine anyone could be disappointed. If you have seen the film and like it, you will LOVE the book. If you have seen the film and hated it (like me) you will realise the true merits of the book lie within, well, the book.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3 and a half stars, 23 Nov 2005
By 
I. D. Miller "ian_miller6" (Solihull) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Constant Gardener (Paperback)
I was going to give this 3 stars because, while it is good, it isn't one of Le Carre's best, or give it 4 stars because despite being lengthy, it kept me engrossed enough such that I ploughed through it quickly. So 3 and a half.
It centers around a 40-something English male trying to understand why his wife has been brutally murdered in Africa, and as a result finding out who is wife really was. But the real message is a stance against the multi-nationals that treat the third world with utter disdain.
Worth a read, but if you want one Mr Le Carre's best and most recent, try Absolute Friends.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A return to form, 10 Feb 2001
By 
Pete109 (Sheffield, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Constant Gardener (Hardcover)
With "The Constant Gardener", Le Carre returns to his best. He is not, as other reviewers regret, a writer who is all action but one who allows his novels to develop slowly. In developing characters fully and letting us into their different hopes and desires he is at his strongest. His settings, which in this novel are many and various, complement the mood and personality of the people the hero meets, adding a further dimension to the reader's enjoyment. It is only because he allows the characters to develop at a pace that appears true to life do we find them believable. As with character, location is very important; much of the novel is set in Africa but this is not the Africa of jungle and animals but one where the invaders, the drug companies, show their Hearts of Darkness. Here we see how money, power and corruption destroy people's lives and any vestige of morality. A great read.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Coming to grip with internal demons, 11 Dec 2002
By 
Amazon Customer (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Constant Gardener (Paperback)
John le Carré's novels are an acquired taste. It wasn't until I read TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY and SMILEY'S PEOPLE, and then viewed the BBC's marvelous screen adaptations of these two books, that I came to appreciate the author's methodically intricate plot and character development that results in more of an identity profile of the chief protagonist than anything else. (For me, le Carré's Smiley will always bring to mind the features of Alec Guiness, who starred in the aforementioned BBC productions.) There are no Bond-like capers here, and those expecting such will become excruciatingly bored.
In THE CONSTANT GARDENER, Justin Quayle is a faceless, government bureaucrat attached to the British High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya. His job is to represent Her Majesty's government on an international committee of other faceless bureaucrats charged with monitoring the efficiency at which aid moneys for the poor and starving reach the intended recipients. The committee has no investigatory authority, so high level and endemic African venality is ignored. On the other hand, Justin's wife, Tessa, belongs to a private group that investigates corruption with a vengeance. Her efforts have uncovered the criminally negligent misuse of a new drug, Dypraxa, designed to treat tuberculosis. The drug's manufacturer, megapharmaceutical KVH, is trialing Dypraxa on the indigenous African population, and apparently covering up the drug's fatal side effects. As THE CONSTANT GARDENER opens, Tessa has been found murdered on a field trip into the African bush. Is there a link?
The storyline unfolds from three viewpoints. First and foremost, there's Justin, whose guilt over his hear-no -evil, see-no-evil detachment from his wife's investigations compels him to follow her lead posthumously, reopen the probe in the face of Foreign Office opposition, and attempt to discover the true circumstances of Tessa's demise. (Did KVH have her killed? Was the British government somehow involved?) Then, there are Sandy Woodrow, the ambitious and morally flaccid Head of Chancery for the Brits in Nairobi, and Gita Pearson, an Anglo-Indian admirer of Tessa's employed by the High Commission as a low-level functionary.
The novel's conclusion, like most of life, is painted in muted gray tones, not stark black and white as one might wish. It's certainly an unhappy ending, although that's appropriate considering the nature of Justin's internal demons brought on by his beloved's lonely death. Yet, the evil he confronts is both banal and ambiguous. Perhaps it's a tragedy of the 21st century that such is the nature of the baseness now pervasive in the world, not the more focused deviltry of Hitler, Stalin, or the Red Menace. I guess I'd have to say that I miss the good old days of the Cold War. That period enabled the author to script endings that were personally more satisfying, that of SMILEY'S PEOPLE being a case in point, which engendered more a sense of triumph of "good" over "evil". Thus, while THE CONSTANT GARDENER is meticulously crafted with the usual le Carré penchant for excellence, for me it lacks punch. Where's George Smiley when you need him?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Power behind all things., 28 Aug 2011
By 
Sentinel (Essex) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Constant Gardener (Paperback)
This is a well-written and engaging novel about the gap between the appearance and reality of Governments foreign policy, global companies window-dressing, and individuals own hidden depths, and tortured moral and ethical positions. If that all sounds too heavy, fear not, for these issues come cloaked in an intriguing thriller about a 'bystander' husband growing into the role of investigating his wife's brutal murder in Kenya, and bravely overcoming resistance from within his own (British) and other Governments, the Kenyan authorities, and the global interests of national and international business.

Le Carre presents the action from the viewpoint of a number of different characters, from the corrupted, compromised and innocent, to the driven and committed seekers of truth. By the end of this twisting novel, the reader comes to recognise just how elusive this truth can be, and how misrepresented in endless situations it may be. Tessa, the dead wife, is slowly developed through the testimony of the other main characters, and is one of these admirable seekers of truth and justice, whose ghost haunts everyone's recollections. Additionally, we identify with Justin Quayle, her husband, who moves from a shadowy, peripheral figure at first to a relentless avenging angel, as he crosses the globe to uncover the truth.

Perhaps too many perspectives/switches of character hinder the momentum of the plot at times, but this is a powerful novel about individual and corporate corruption, nakedly exposed as Justin methodically strips away the lies and excuses, and the reader identifies with his subtly-drawn character, and wills him to succeed. The downbeat ending is exactly right in tone, and reflects the way the world is in reality, rather than how we might wish it to be. An engaging, sobering and thoughful read throughout. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense, painful and unflinching, 10 Jun 2010
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Constant Gardener (Paperback)
When his beloved wife, Tessa, is raped and murdered in Kenya, Justin Quayle is forced out of his comfortable niche in the diplomatic service and is forced to follow and try to complete her investigation and indictment of the pharmaceutical industry's involvement in Africa.

This is very different in tone from the Smiley trilogy, but Le Carré has lost none of his story-telling skills and page-turning abilities. The attention to the human heart, however, is deepened here, and Smiley's feelings for his unfaithful wife are turned into something both central and very moving in this book.

While this is, in lots of ways, a very angry book, the indignation is controlled so that this doesn't become a tirade against capitalism. But it does expose some very dark dealings indeed, and refuses to allow anyone to escape with a plea of ignorance.

I found this a very intense and often very painful read as it stares unflinchingly into the heart of western trade. Highly recommended.
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The Constant Gardener
The Constant Gardener by John Le Carré (Paperback - 10 Oct 2005)
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