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Smiley is an engaging character. With some obvious weaknesses abundantly made up by deep seated strengths. Just follow him and the novel keeps you engaged. Look elsewhere, and you may still find some entertaining, colourful characters, but none measure up. In contrast, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" was full of them. All made to stand with their unique past, peculiarities of character, their little idiosyncrasies, and yet, engaging and flavourful. All of them. Some of them just have a page or two. And yet they not only standout, but stick permanently in your memory. That touch is missing. But no complaints. Masterly narrated story all the same.
George smiley novels have never ever been a breeze. It's taken me years to finish this trilogy taking in Smiley's dystopian sight one at a time, which managed to capture the darkness of the cold war in the best way possible. Farewell old friend.
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
Smiley's People is the third story in the John Le Carre George Smiley/Karla trilogy. I've now read the first and third books.
In this book George Smiley (the retired temporary head of MI6) is asked to investigate the death of General Vladimir (a former spy). Vladimir was a former Russian officer who spied for the British year ago, and lived to retire. The problem was that the General was trying to make contact with MI6, after he is contacted by a Russian emigree in France. The question is, why's he calling? Smiley tries to find out.
As the investigation continues, the death of a "stringer spy" (Otto Leipzig) sees Smiley's concerns confirmed, and he and Karla (the head of the Russian "service") do battle to see if Smiley can come out on top in the third stage of their personal duel.
It's not a bad book, but it feels... old. I can see it's well written, but I think it drags a little (and not just because it's set in a time that doesn't exist any more). The book was written in 1978/79, and in the intervening years I think people have got more used to pace in their books.
A good read but a little disappointing when compared to Tinker, Tailor,etc. Almost as if Le Carre has tried to find a slot for all of his characters. This is understandable but they do not all work in the conrext of his story.
I am 80% through the book. I am enjoying it. I feel comfortable reading Smiley's People. I like George Smiley. To me Le Carre gives the right balance of description and weaving a plot. I like the way in this book that we first see the threads, then we learn how they weave together. I shall be sorry to finish this book. And yet I do want to know how George will win through in the end.