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4.3 out of 5 stars188
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 11 August 2014
If you like spy novels you must read the Karla trilogy.
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on 1 August 2013
The tricky middle book is just this. I was expecting something more along the lines of Tinker, Taylor, Soldier Spy but was disappointed to find the story jumping uncontrollably between two seemingly different story lines! It's entertaining in its own right but it's very ambitious and whether it is achieved or not is a different matter.
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on 6 January 2013
I have found it difficult to read. It starts with the description of a lot of events and characters, which I found difficult to follow. A lot of information is thrown at you... By the time you get to the main characters and their involvement in the plot I got tired... I attempted to read it twice. But both times gave up.
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on 23 September 2008
Exciting, complex and fast paced novel. Read it again recently, third time over the years and it has worn very well indeed.
Le Carre is the master in my h.o.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have always been a fan of John Le Carre's books, the detail, the twists, the sub-plots and intrigue, written by someone in the know.
Making a radio drama of any one of his books that could fit on only 3CD's would be a very difficult exercise and the only way to do it would be to use an abridged version of the story.

This BBC CD is therefore a shortened version of the full story. As a result it feels a bit `light' and on few occasions one scene fails to blend in properly with the following one, to the point where you may wonder how a conclusion was reached. I tended to rewind thinking I had missed something when in fact I had not.
The voice over and delivery of the voice-over used to fill in the missing bits of the story is very good. The voice acting of all the characters was superb especially Phoebe in the restaurant and that of the Honourable School Boy. The background sounds and music allow a true feel of intrigue and menacing ambiance to develop.

Although the play is called the Honourable School Boy it is difficult to work out who the real lead character is as the play jumps back and forth between scenes too quickly. This I think is the result of the drama lacking enough detail. It also follows that the relationships and outcomes between some of the characters lacks development, substance and feel of the original book.
Finally the ending is a little disappointing.
As it ended I thought; "is that it!"

It really reflects how hard it was for the BBC to put this book onto the radio in only three episodes.

I would really like to give this a 4* rating for entertainment value especially considering the superb voice acting and ambiance of the play. If it were for that basis alone I would have but there were significant flaws so I will only award it 3*.

As entertainment it is good, it is worth listening to if you have read the book or not.
Is it worth buying? It is most definitely a yes.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Honourable Schoolboy is Le Carre's immediate sequel to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Taking control of a shattered Circus in the aftermath of the unmasking of Gerald the mole, Smiley seeks revenge on his rival Karla, head of the Soviet service. His faithful long time lieutenatnts unearth mysterious payments being made by Russian intelligence into Hong Kong and these in turn lead to a potential coup for Smiley, of as much value as Gerald was to Moscow. He uses as his weapon the unreliable but charming part time agent Jerry Westerby. This is the set up for a wonderfully intricate and ambiguous plot where we see Smiley the brilliant professional but flawed human being in all of his equivocal glory. One of the joys of the book is its lack of certainty, to the point that at the end we are never quite sure whether Smiley is a brilliantly strategic winner or a betrayed loser. Finally, the book beautifully builds the moral ambiguity which sets the ground ready for Smiley's People.

As an adaptation, this is a classic BBC radio serial and as such is shot through with quality. Simon Russell Beale once more gives a beautifully mannered performance, but once more his voice didn't really have the depth I would've liked. The rest of the cast are, as one would expect, without a weak link.

This adaptation scores over that of Tinker Tailor in the same series simply because it doesn't have the behemoth TV series hanging over it. One gets the feeling that the poroducer didn't feel the need to do something original and hence was free to get on with telling the story. For example, the intrusive internal dialogue between Smiley and Anne is absent here.

Highly recommended
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VINE VOICEon 26 February 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I ordered and listened to this wonderful production while I was still glowing with the pleasure of listening to the predecessor in the series, Tinker Tailor. I was so blown away by the brilliance of TT, that, to be honest, it would be hard for anything to match it. And while The Honourable Schoolboy is another belter of a production, it simply didn't quite meet the same standard in terms of enjoyment and plot, in my opinion.

You could enjoy this production without having listened to (or read) Tinker Tailor, because there are various little recaps along the way. However I am glad I listened to them in the order I did, and if you heard this one first, it would give away the mystery at the centre of Tinker Tailor.

The storyline is less complex. Jerry Westerby, former journalist, son of a media mogul, and the inheritor of a title he has not earned, is called back into service to help find out where huge amounts of money deposited into a dodgy account in Hong Kong, is destined to be used. Along the way Jerry meets a host of compelling, mysterious and shady characters,while back in London the long-suffering George Smiley, temporarily back in charge of matters, re-recruits the agents he most trusts, assesses the intelligence and plots the next step. He is forced into working with the 'Cousins' (Americans) who have their own agenda, and this adds to the sense of pressure and urgency.

So far so good, and I was happy to disregard the occasional wobbly accent, but when a character called Lizzie Worthington joins the action, I began to find myself cringing a bit. It's not the fault of the production team, but rather a sign that the original story was written thirty years ago when attitudes to women were very different. Lizzie is constantly referred to as the 'blue-eyed blonde', a victim whose only attribute (apart from misplaced loyalty) is her beauty and Jerry sets himself up as her 'Sir Galahad' in a bid to extract her from the mess she's in.

This minor quibble doesn't detract from what is an excellent and thoroughly enjoyable production, and one that I'd thoroughly recommend. I am now so bereft without any Smiley to listen to, that I'm going to order the next in the series.
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on 1 October 2015
Top rate LeCarre usual.
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on 1 October 2015
Brilliant! Classic le Carre.
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VINE VOICEon 4 March 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Impressive and engaging audio version of one of le Carre's great trilogy of books detailing the clash of spymasters George Smiley and Karla.

This Radio 4 adaption's cast is star-studded, featuring Anna Chancellor, Maggie Steed, David Yip etc. Simon Russell Beale is suitably buttoned-up as Smiley, a rather unrewarding role. The eye-catching performance here (if such a thing is possible in a radio play) is Hugh Bonnerville's Jerry Westerby. Westerby's unexpectedly sincere chivalric spirit is made very believable, but also his world weariness and fake bonhomie.

The action packed climactic scenes when the shady Drake Ko finally makes his decisive move seem rushed and it is not immediately clear what is happening when the bullets start flying, but I am sure this is deliberate. Rightly, the focus is on the grey men in the committee rooms and offices. Ultimately, Jerry Westerby's damsel-rescuing knight errantry has to take second place to the realpolitics of "The Circus."
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