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Customer reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
The Honorary Consul
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on 6 March 2011
Never thought I'd give an 'average' review to a Graham Greene novel, but that's how it feels: average. Average only to a great author's standards of course, which is pretty high all the same, but it seems as though he's just treading old ground here.

If you're a dedicated fan there is absolutely no reason not to read this, but if you're only just discovering the author, pick up another of his works to start with.
One person found this helpful
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on 28 April 2015
Reputed the best and doesn't dissapoint
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on 5 June 2016
A story of love or something like love set In South America at a time of political instability. The empathy is beautifully captured and is well worth five stars
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on 3 June 2014
A modern day "I Claudius". I will say no more for fear of giving too much away. I thing GG is a great writer.
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on 24 June 2015
Tough going to stay focused on the plot.
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on 6 March 2013
I was pleased to be able at last to get back to reading a whole lot of Graham Greene's books, a change from the great tomes coming out today; these are shortish but delightfully written, and readable more than once. I am glad I bought a whole chunk of them at once(6!) Did you know that Patricia Highsmith (Mr Ripley's creator) loved Greene's writing?
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on 9 June 2016
very good. Evocation of a bygone era.
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on 8 March 2017
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on 22 December 2011
This book typifies what many people have labelled as `Greeneland': a tragi-comic world (usually more tragic than comic) in which people are confronted by awkward choices which require them to examine or re-examine their values and which often lead them to behave in ways which they would previously have rejected. The book is set in Argentina, where the British honorary consul, Charles Fortnum, is kidnapped by a group who threaten to kill him unless a group of Paraguayan political prisoners is released. Unfortunately for Fortnum, he is so unimportant that none of Britain, Argentina and Paraguay cares about his fate. His only ally is Eduardo Plarr, a half-British doctor who has been friendly with Fortnum but who has also been having an affair with Fortnum's much younger wife Clara. Clara is pregnant; the baby is Plarr's but Fortnum knows nothing of the affair and so assumes that it is his. Plarr pleads Fortnum's case with the kidnappers, whose leader, Leon Rivas, is a lapsed Catholic priest with whom Plarr used to be friendly. Both Plarr and Rivas find themselves in `Greeneland': Plarr is a cold, unemotional man who is forced to re-evaluate his feelings for both Fortnum and Clara; as for Rivas, the prospect of having to murder Fortnum brings his religious faith increasingly into conflict with his political objectives. Lighter moments are provided by some of the more minor characters, especially Saavedra, a mediocre but self-important Argentinian author.

This is one of my favourite Greene novels. It is a clever mix of an adventure story about a kidnapping that goes wrong, and a literary novel about love, faith and moral values. Although Plarr is the book's central character, in many ways Fortnum is its most engaging character - an ageing, morose alcoholic who wants to find some purpose in his life and who is never quite sure whether or not Clara is the key to his doing so. For all his faults, he is a more likeable character than anyone else in the book. The South American setting was used by Greene in some of his other books (e.g. The Power And The Glory) and here, as elsewhere, he paints an interesting picture of a superficially sedate society in which violence lurks not very far away and in which the male characters (except for Fortnum) are driven by machismo in sometimes comic, and often unfortunate, ways.

Greene initially divided his work into two categories: `serious' books and `entertainments'. He put this book into the latter category. Later in his life he abandoned the distinction. I think he was right to do so because it's surely a false distinction: a book can be both entertaining and serious, and this book achieves that. I don't think it's his best book but it's quite near the top of the list.
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on 8 August 2017
A tragicomic account of a bungled kidnapping in a provincial Argentinian town. I liked several scenes of this very much, quite often smiled at the humour, and was gripped when the Hon Consul himself was on stage. I wasn’t sure quite why I never became fully engaged. I don’t think I cared enough, perhaps because the main protagonist is not the Hon Consul, but his ‘friend’ Doctor Plarr, who, intentionally on Greene’s part, is such a cold fish. I always enjoyed it when I picked it up, but a few pages were usually enough, and I was never burning to get back to it. Definitely worth a read, but not a page-turner.
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