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A Delicate Truth, by John le Carré

Second paragraph of third chapter:
"They was up here, bold as brass, on Manor parkland, the exact same spot they was last time, proud of that clump of old pines."
I read a lot of John Le Carré as a teenager and in my early twenties; it was quite good preparation for the work I subsequently went on to do, though more in terms of preparing myself to meet the mindset of those who think they are doing their best for their country and find themselves questioning their own motivation. I suspect that his portrayal of inner Cold War circles in London, Bonn and elsewhere rang true for those who were there at the time. It is probably fifteen years since I last read one of his novels (I don't seem to have blogged any of them here).

I'm sorry to say that I felt that A Delicate Truth missed the target. It's a story about loyal upper middle class chaps who find that they are able to blow open a fatally bungled New Labour security mission in Gibraltar, and eventually do so. The upper middle class chaps seemed to me rather too noble in their motivations; the non-middle class characters were there for comic relief or moral lessons; more particularly, the Foreign Office as portrayed here is the powerful intellectual machine of former years, not the hollowed-out, demoralised institution I know today, that has now had the ultimate double humiliation of its most important tasks being given to newly invented ministries and then Boris Johnson being put in charge of the rest. Also, coming from where I do, it's odd not to see any reference to previous controversial Gibraltar events. The author is now well into his 80s, so it's understandable that he may be losing his touch; I should revisit some of the classics of earlier years.

This was the top remaining non-sff fiction book recommended by you guys at the end of last year. Next on that list is Even Dogs in the Wild, by Ian Rankin.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 7th, 2016 08:39 pm (UTC)
I haven't read all of Le Carre by any means, and am currently working my way through the early ones rather randomly. Of the recent ones that I have read, however, I thought The Constant Gardener was the last good one.
Aug. 8th, 2016 07:52 am (UTC)
I too haven't read any le Carre since high school; I've been vaguely meaning to revisit for years (ever since The Constant Gardener was made into a film) but with my to-read pile in the state it is, that just hasn't happened.
Aug. 25th, 2016 09:02 pm (UTC)
Have you read the biography?
It seemed quite interesting to me (though some personal letters were awkwardly embarrassing), but I have only had time to glimpse through it.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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