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Smiley's People Kindle Edition
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|Length: 468 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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- Part of the John Le Carre Set (3 Book Series)
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Following the events of `The Honourable Schoolboy', Smiley is now retired. But an old contact is brutally slain, and Smiley is asked by the powers that be to make sure there are no loose ends that could embarrass either the Circus or the British Government. As he trawls through the General's last days and slowly comes to realise just why he was killed, he finds an old adversary at the heart of things, and the opportunity to lay many old ghosts to rest.
Once again this is an admirable bit of writing form Le Carre. Intricately plotted,. With a very real and believable feel. Lacking the glamour of, say, Bond stories, not shing away from the grim and murky realities of life. Smiley lives in a grim and paranoid world, where he cannot trust even those notionally on his own side. The atmosphere is tense and gripping.
As well as the writing, there are a series of fine performances. Simon Russell Beale once again excels as Smiley. His performance is reminiscent of Alec Guinness's, but he manages to put his own stamp quite thoroughly on the role. He shows the ruthlessness of Smiley, along with his regret at doing what has to be done, very convincingly.
The BBC have done a good job at trimming the story down to fit three hours, but without losing too much of the fine detail. I can only compare this to the Guinness TV adaptation, not having read the book, and some detail has been lost but the story is clear and flows well. There is, in addition, a very professional production, with unobtrusive sound effects that nicely help the story and set the scene, but do not detract from the actors performances.
This is an all round excellent production, one which kept m riveted for the duration.
There are three hour long episodes, on three discs in a double size jewel case. There is a limited set of liner notes with cast details and some notes about John Le Carre's career.
Five stars, no hesitation. I also highly recommend all the others in the series to date.
Smiley's People is more similar to Tinker, Tailor than the middle novel, The Honourable Schoolboy. Like the first part of the trilogy, Smiley is firmly in the operational heart of the plot. He travels across Europe following the trail and with his unique, detached insight reconstructs the puzzle.
The `people' of the title are the many returning characters -Connie Sachs, Peter Guillam, Toby Esterhouse- who join Smiley's private army, operating at the very greyest edges of the intelligence community. It is a genuine pleasure to again spend time with all of them, such is leCarré's mastery of their characterisation. If anything elevates leCarré above other thriller writers, it is the literary precision with which he constructs his characters and environments in addition to the byzantine plots. His style is lean, precise but never skimping on detail or humanity.
The novel explores the toll of living in the clandestine world of espionage on the participants. Karla, once a faceless, shadowy bogeyman who lived only for the soviet mission, is humanised but it is that chink in his armour that Smiley pursues. Smiley, meanwhile, casts aside not only the remnants of his `civilian life' but also many of the ideals by which he lived to pursue his one chance to strike directly at his opponent. The reader is left wondering, after all the death and damage, is it worth it for the individuals or the nations they represent?
It can be no accident that the imagery of chess continually appears in this novel. The intelligence chiefs of leCarré's world construct operations like grand masters, thinking a dozen moves ahead, analysing their opponents' strategy and willing to make any sacrifice to preserve their long game. The difference in this novel is that Smiley and Karla are no longer playing at a distance: they are both on the board.
Of course, the ultimate game player is leCarré, who confidently moves his character around a complex and mesmerising plot. He is clearly at home in the western European theatre and revels in bringing the contest between Smiley and Karla to a conclusion in a way that resonates across all of the Smiley novels, not just this trilogy. If there is any criticism at all, it is that perhaps Smiley's people is a little less disciplined and compact than Tinker, Tailor but the result is no less satisfying.
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Typically well prepared and nail biting a truly fitting finale to George Smileys life’s...Read more