A Legacy of Spies Hardcover – Import, 7 September 2017
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This novel offers more than one pleasure. It is not merely good in itself - vintage John le Carré. It gives the reader, at long last, pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that have been missing for 54 years.... A Legacy of Spies does something remarkable. Le Carré takes a le Carré classic and thickens it into something different from what it was....Like wine, le Carré's writing has got richer with age...Don't wait for the paperback ― The Times
Perhaps the most significant novelist of the second half of the 20th century in Britain. He will have charted our decline and recorded the nature of our bureaucracies like no one else has. He's in the first rank -- Ian McEwan
le Carré's masterful new novel -- Jonathan Freedland ― The Guardian
It is a splendid novel...It is riveting, bitter and will be controversial...le Carré's handling of dialogue remains perfectly fresh. Who else can tell you so much about so many people so quickly? Not a syllable is wasted -- Andrew Marr ― The Sunday Times
The English canon has rarely seen an acclaimed novelist and popular entertainer sustain such a hot streak in old age....A Legacy of Spies achieves many things. Outstandingly, it is a defiant assertion of creative vigour...Cornwell is signing off with a poignant and brilliant au revoir to le Carré, his alter ego, a writer who is with the immortals ― The Observer
A Legacy of Spies deploys a complex and ingeniously layered structure to make the past alive in the present once more ... le Carré has not lost his touch ― Evening Standard
His writing is as crisp as ever ... another tale of intrigue which will slip effortlessly into its place in the Smiley canon ― Daily Express
A tense, intricately plotted espionage thriller . . . sheer genius from le Carré ― Saga Magazine
A compelling tale of Cold War duplicity and manoeuvrings in the British secret service ... as ever much of the pleasure of reading le Carre is that you have to be on your intellectual mettle -- William Boyd ― New Statesman
Part of the pleasure of this novel is that the characters seem so much cleverer than we are ... haunting, fascinating ... it also made me want to reread the entire Smiley sequence ― Spectator
Le Carré is on absolutely cracking form. No writer has ever been better at turning the act of two people talking politely to each other across a desk into a blood sport ― The Daily Telegraph
Le Carré has always known how to make his readers hang on barbed-wire tenterhooks. He drip-feeds information with such suspense-building miserliness that our befogged state matches that of the field agents - the "joes" - who glimpse one piece of the secret jigsaw at a time ― Financial Times
The old magic still holds . . . I might as well say it: to read this simmering novel is to come in from the cold ― New York Times
What are we to make of Smiley? What is his game? Do we like him? Admire him? Every le Carré reader has wrestled with these questions-and A Legacy of Spies brings them to the fore more directly than any previous book ― Vanity Fair
Ingenious ― Washington Post
Utterly engrossing and perfectly pitched, it is a triumph ― Daily Mail
We are back in the more interesting territory of moral uncertainty and failure. What, Smiley asks, was he fighting for? ― TLS
The literary event of the Autumn ― Evening Standard
I have re-read The Spy Who Came In From The Cold over and over again since I first encountered it in my teens, just to remind myself how extraordinary a work of fiction can be -- Malcolm Gladwell
He can communicate emotion, from sweating fear to despairing love, with terse and compassionate conviction. Above all, he can tell a tale. Formidable equipment for a rare and disturbing writer ― Sunday Times
He's one of those writers who will be read a century from now -- Robert Harris
The best spy story I have ever read -- Graham Greene on The Spy Who Came In From The Cold
A literary master for a generation ― Observer
George Smiley is our favourite fictional spy ― Sunday Express
le Carré has made and peopled a myth. Myths do not age ― Financial Times
Deeply moving in its portrait of a man adrift in a climate he no longer understands ― Metro
[As] labyrinthine as you'd expect ... le Carré has always been a master ― The Tablet
Razor-sharp insight from the battle-weary Guillam and fascinating glimpses into the murky spycraft at the height of the Cold War only add to the joy of this sublimely accomplished thriller ― The People
This is a truly wonderful, morally complex, politically astute novel written with elegance and panache . . . the visceral thrill of its twists and its complexities, its edge-of-the-seat qualities ― Scotland on Sunday
[Le Carré's] writing has lost none of its pith or potency . . . his powers of invention have kept up with the pace of an ever-changing and complex world' ― The Scotsman
Thrilling and fascinating - a satisfying close to the saga ― The Independent
This sublime thriller ― Sunday Mirror
This really is vintage le Carré ― Mail on Sunday
It's brilliantly done and very enjoyable ― Prospect
[A] late-career triumph ― 1843 Magazine
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- Publisher : Viking (7 September 2017)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0241308542
- ISBN-13 : 978-0241308547
- Item Weight : 540 g
- Dimensions : 16.2 x 2.8 x 24 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #190,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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A must for all serious readers of English fiction.
My generation will be nostalgic for the days of George Smiley and the newer generation will be stimulated, I hope, to read the old classics like The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Penguin Modern Classics) , Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: A George Smiley Novel , The Honourable Schoolboy , Smiley's People etc.
By Dippy on 20 September 2017
A must for all serious readers of English fiction.
My generation will be nostalgic for the days of George Smiley and the newer generation will be stimulated, I hope, to read the old classics like [[ASIN:0141194529 The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Penguin Modern Classics)]], [[ASIN:0143119788 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: A George Smiley Novel]], [[ASIN:0340993774 The Honourable Schoolboy]], [[ASIN:0340993782 Smiley's People]] etc.
Top reviews from other countries
You need to be aware of some half-witted newspaper reviews of this book. They don't seem to have read closely and understood the chronology, and so you will read some disparaging comments about George Smiley making an appearance when he is over 100 years old. They have missed the point that the events in "A Legacy..." are not happening in the present day. The chronology is thus: the narrator Peter Guillam is at some point in the 2010s (perhaps even 2017) is reflecting back upon both events in the mid-1990s when he was required by the Service to revisit events of the late 1950s. There are clues to the 1990s setting through the book (e.g. the description of the Mi6 building in Vauxhall makes it seem relatively new; Guillam is asked if he has a mobile phone or an e-mail, which would be odd questions to ask someone nowadays). Then toward the end of the book, Le Carre drops in a line almost as a throw-away which indicates that the narration is reflecting historical events.
It is a lovely touch by Le Carre ; a bit of "circle-within- a-circle" misdirection befitting a novel about spies.
So, for your mental picture assume a Peter Guillam in his mid-eighties; reflecting on a time in the mid-1990s. In the mid-1990s, Guillam is in his early sixties and is recently retired and George Smiley is in his early eighties. Guillam is being required to revisit events of the late 1950s and early 1960s when he was in his late twenties to early thirties.
Not so difficult to get the head around. The critics in the newspaper book reviews should perhaps stick to Dan Brown books.
Smiley has appeared in a number of Le Carre's novels, sometimes as a principal protagonist as in the first two novels or "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy," in others as a minor character. He makes an appearance in this novel and his presence is felt. But the main character in "A Legacy of Spies" is another character who will be familiar to Le Carre readers namely Peter Guillam who is the narrator here.
Writing in the first person is to my knowledge is new to Le Carre. But it works well. The writing is pacy and lucid. The book makes for a good read. Guillam has been recalled to London in Smiley's absence to deal with a fall out from the events described in "the Spy." Firstly from children of Leamas and Liz, and secondly from political masters with different values to those of the Cold War looking to expose the "sins" of the past.
There has always been an element of Le Carre being a moralist in some of his novels, even if this is not worn on the sleeve. This usually concerns the morality of politics and spying, not to mention matters of loyalties and betrayal. At the end of it Smiley voices a commentary on this which might be that of the whole Cold War. But at the same time the novel progresses as a story. Those wanting just a good read will not be disappointed either.
The novel could be read in isolation. But at the same time what is given here is a tying up of threads in the novels where Smiley appears . Much of it adds background to the events and characters described in "The Spy" and links them into events and characters in the later novels. "A Legacy" makes for a very satisfying tie up of the Smiley/Circus sequence of novels. Perhaps not Le Carre's very greatest, but up near them