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The Constant Gardener Paperback – 21 Sep 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 133 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; 01 edition (21 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340937726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340937723
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 3.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

There were those who feared that the end of the Cold War would deal a fatal blow to the creativity of many first-rate thriller writers who specialised in this territory. In the case of John le Carré, this would have meant the loss of not only Britain's finest thriller writer, but a serious novelist of quite as much literary gravitas as any of his mainstream contemporaries. Certainly, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold remains as utterly compelling today as when it was written, whereas such post-cold war le Carré themes as financial double-dealing seemed to inspire him less than the world of shifting identity he had dealt in so skilfully. But with The Constant Gardener, we have the author once again firing on all cylinders. The characterisation is as elegant and expressive as ever, the prose as limpid and forceful. But, most of all, le Carré has found a theme quite as pregnant as any he has handled in the past: the malign, deceptively ameliorative world of global pharmaceuticals. In the new novel, the customary themes of betrayal and danger are explored in a narrative that exerts a total grip throughout its considerable length. His protagonist, Justin Quayle, is an unreflective British diplomat whose job in the British High Commission in Nairobi suggests one of Graham Greene's dispossessed protagonists trying to survive in the sultry corruption of foreign climates. President Arap Moi's Kenya is a country in the grip of AIDS, while political machinations maintain a deadly status quo. When Quayle's wife (who has taken more interest in what is happening around her than her husband) is killed, his investigation of her murder leads him into a murky web of exploitation involving Kenyan greed and a major pharmaceutical company eager to promote its "wonder cure" for tuberculosis. As Quayle looks deeper into the company which his wife had been investigating, all he has carefully built around him begins to crumble. The steady accumulation of tension and rigorous delineation of character is emblematic of le Carré at his finest, and it is a tremendous pleasure to find the author so resolutely back on form, fired with a real sense of anger at the duplicity of the modern world:

"Specious, unadulterated, pompous Foreign Office bullshit, if you want its full name... trade isn't making the poor rich. Profits don't buy reforms. They buy corrupt government officials and Swiss bank accounts".
--Barry Forshaw (This Review refers to the hardback edition of this title) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Praise for The Constant Gardener (:)

The master storyteller...has lost none of his cunning (A. N. Wilson, Daily Mail)

The book breathes life, anger and excitement (Nigel Williams, Observer)

A cracking thriller (Economist)

Nobody writing today manipulates suspense better. Nobody constructs a more tantalisingly complex plot . . . essential reading (Chris Woodhead, Sunday Telegraph)

'Richly detailed, full of righteous fire to offset its desperate prognosis, The Constant Gardener is a very impressive piece of work. It is certainly one of John le Carré's best books' (The Times Literary Supplement)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I grew up in Africa and yet I didn't relate to how the people behaved or lived in the book. It felt to me like this book is stuck in the colonial past - more appropriate for the 1950s, yet the setting of the book is clearly more modern.
It seems to me that Mr Le Carre has relied on a very dated and perfunctory experience of life in Africa to build a 500 page book that just does not ring true. A novel for a novel's sake. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I had been ignorant of the real life in Africa.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
An excellent product let down by only the first 4 CDs being delivered, despite being charged for te full set!!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This was a gift
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By A Customer on 9 Sept. 2002
Format: Paperback
Although some think of John Le Carre's novels as airport/ beach reading, I must whole-heartedly disagree. The Constant Gardener is another fine example of his excellent writing. The plot starts simply when a British Foreign Office worker in Nairobi finds out that his wife has been brutally murdered on the shores of Lake Turkana. She was an aid-worker on her way with a colleague to uncover corruption in the pharmaceutical industry. As the story progresses not only does the husband realise how little he knows about his wife, but we realise that not everyone is as they seem. There are no clear villains in the story, which actually makes it scarily believable. Le Carre deftly weaves the story through different characters' point of view yet even the reader does not discover what really happened until Justin, the husband discovers it. This is a thoroughly enjoyable book; one you can't put down and a great introduction to the wit and skill of John Le Carre's writing.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I'ts difficult to believe that I've been reading John le Carré books for 50 years. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold was the first I read in the late 60s. I was hooked by a powerful narrative about a world then unknown to most. The Cold War was still at its height and the machinations of East West relations, Governments, duplicity and the rest was a world of mystery brought vividly to life. I've enjoyed most of leCarré's books and The Constant Gardener is one of the best.
The story is set largely in post colonial Kenya, and centres on the brutal death of Tessa, the wife of a Foreign Office official. She's no ordinary FO type wife; she's intelligent, singular and dedicated. She's uncovered some unsavoury facts around the distribution and use of a miracle drug. Suffice to say, the interests of the pharma industry, as always, are paramount and the welfare of disadvantaged but desperate people in third world areas are fully exploited for profit.

Carré's books have moved with the times. He's not stuck in the spy genre. In my view, he's possibly the best living British novelist and I find it surprising that he's not widely recognised and nominated for literary prizes. He's possibly too successful and popular to deemed worthy of literary merit, but his writing is always relevant. Satisfyingly complex plot, acutely observed characters, a sardonic sense of humour and exposure of moral duplicity, he's never boring. He excels at the dialogue and duplicity of Foreign Office officials, at home and abroad. He's succinct in social settings which pinpoint pretensions and self aggrandisement.

I bought the Audible version of this book, brilliantly narrated by Michael Jayston and I enjoyed every minute. It's an excellent read.
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Format: Paperback
Having not picked up a le Carre book for quite a number of years now, I have not stopped wondering why, ever since starting The Constant Gardener. While le Carre has not lost any of the gritty realism that was alway essential to his storytelling, this novel is also fired by obvious passion and strongly held personal convictions about it's main theme, the exploitation of third world countries by multinational Pharmas, which gives it an added edge. That said, whatever you views on globalisation, this is a rich and rewarding book, filled with le Carre's wonderfully detailed characters, artfully crafted suspence and a tragically human lovestory.
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Format: Paperback
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 written from a the point of view of a number of different characters. It is set in Kenya, England and Italy. It is essentially a love story but also a mystery.

The author writes in a way that keeps you turning pages to find the next twist in the plot. I think not seeing the film first would make the book even more gripping to read. The authors style is fantastic, not giving too much away too soon and leaving some of the story to the readers imagination. Its not the type of book I normally read and I thought it may be heavy going, I was pleasantly surprised. A fantastic story with a gripping end. I cannot reccomend it highly enough.
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By Sentinel TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 Aug. 2011
Format: 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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