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Smiley's People (Penguin Modern Classics) Kindle Edition
An enormously skilled and satisfying work
An achievement of subtlety and power of which few novelists would be capable. It is the best single thing le Carr has done --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B07B4PTCXK
- Publisher : Penguin; 1st edition (27 September 2018)
- Language : English
- File size : 1281 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 431 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #11,761 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from India
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In terms of the Karla trilogy I favour this more than the other two with the honorable school boy taking the bottom position but not by much
Top reviews from other countries
First of all, it has, just like the earlier parts in the trilogy, simply everything I've come to expect in a Le Carré novel: brimming with intrigues, ploys and counter-ploys, loads of suspense, a very tight plot that keeps you wandering what'll happen next, brilliant dialogues and characterization, ... But what makes 'Smiley's people' stand out for me is George Smiley himself and how powerfully he is portrayed by Le Carré as perhaps the very opposite of the kind of man we often think of when we think of spies. Smiley's old, slightly overweight, retired, divorced, and in doubt if all he's ever done in his Secret Service career was actually worthwhile. But when a former agent is murdered and the trail leads to Karla, Smiley cannot help but give chase once again, and devote all his experience and intelligence to this final duel. Le Carré describes Smiley's painful private life in such a powerful way that to me this novel is much more a poignant portrait of a man who happens to be a spy, rather than a spy who happens to have personal problems.
Whoever said spy-novels aren't Literature with a capital 'L'?
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.
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.