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As always John le Carre is very professional about the whole plot.his ground level knowledge about the spy business is coming across so clearly and very few spy masters can reach this standard 👍 a very good read 👌
Started off a bit rough - almost seemed like English was writer's second language. Only later does one realise that it made the scene real - earthy, gritty. Great plot, well developed characters, some acts on the longish side. Overall a book worth reading - not for action junkies but for drama enthusiasts.
I am one of many new readers of this novel, reissued as a modern classic to coincide with a serialization on BBC. Many years ago I read and enjoyed all Le Carre’s Cold War novels. Maybe my tastes have changed but this was such a struggle – I gave up after 250 pages.
The plot is undeniably clever, but even for a spy novel, somewhat far-fetched. To render it convincing Le Carre freights his account with copious detail of person, place and circumstance. This significantly slows down what action there is to a crawl then a standstill – noting the numbers of every car in the queue does not make a traffic jam any more bearable.
The author loads his characters with complex psychologies and back stories. Acts and counteracts must emerge from a tangled forest of lost childhoods, idiopathic personality traits, and misconstrued passages from Regis Debray or Frantz Fanon. He gave his imagination full rein, and drops names merrily but he failed to persuade me of either the truth or necessity of it all. The motivation of Palestine organizations for using violence is rather simple, the response of the Israeli state equally straightforward - whatever your position on the Middle East.
The novel was written in 1983 to be fair – much has changed and much has not indeed. For certain the portrayal of female characters, especially of Charlie, is very much of its time and its male authorship. If women are shallow, men are deep, subtle and complicated. OK but it does not work in 2018 and I am reading it in 2018.
Before abandoning the book – and I persisted for some time – I looked at other negative reviews on Amazon. It was not going to get any better. I will reserve judgement on the TV series. POSTSCRIPT the TV series was much better, shorter and it dispenses with Le Carre's self-indulgent ramblings. The plot is still implausible but watchable when the book was - in the end - unreadable.
David Cornwell aka John le Carré first gave us this novel back in 1983, and it is still as relevant today as it was then. Here we take in the warring between Israel and Palestine, but it could take in many different theatres of action, and although you can put this in the spy genre of books, to be honest this is much more than that.
With Israeli’s been blown up, who is behind the terrorist actions? Although the Israeli intelligence services have a good idea, it is one thing to know who the person is, and another to locate them and put them out of action. And thus, small-time British actress Charlie makes an appearance. A radical with differing views and quite often on demonstrations what is it about her that seems to make her a good candidate to bring down a terrorist organisation?
Le Carré’s novel is a great read and works on so many levels. There is a good and believable story which is well plotted, and with fully realised characters, but this goes beyond that as we are made to think of certain actions that are carried out. For Kurtz, who is leading this special operation, with the acceptance of deniability by the State of Israel, so we see how Charlie is broken down and then rebuilt to become the person that is wanted for the mission. Kurtz, who is a moderate thinks that by carrying out a successful mission he may be able to hold off certain insurgences against Palestinians, but is he right? Charlie finds herself having to give the performance of a lifetime, but will she stay loyal to her employers, or will she go native and help the Palestinians?
With such questions and others, we have to contemplate the grey world of such activities that have people manipulating and lying to each other, all with their own ideologies, ones that may alter as times progresses, and also the problems that occur trying to bring a peaceable solution to matters that can seem incomprehensibly hard.
In all then this is a great read, that could do well for book groups, and is more of a thinking man’s story than an action thriller. There is a TV series of this I believe coming in November, and as I am writing this I have my fingers crossed that it will be good and do justice to this novel.
I'm working my way consecutively through le Carre's books, and it's interesting to see his confidence develop. The Little Drummer Girl moves away from the Cold War and into a new arena: Arab/Israeli terrorism. It's well constructed, and the writing is excellent as always - I didn't realise when I picked up my first le Carre book that there's a literary turn to his spy writing. He actually writes very well indeed. The Little Drummer Girl doesn't disappoint - my only criticism, and this goes for all his work, is that he only able to write one lead female character. Charlie is every other woman he's written... but at least he writes her well!
Despite having read it I don't know where the title of the book comes from. Maybe I missed something. Having said that it is Le Carre at his best and I cannot fault it. I am left with the impression that the book is heavily researched because it has that ring of truth about it that shouts at you. The build up is careful and thorough without being boring and the end is very well delivered. I can see why a TV or film company would want to make this into a series / film. I suspect it will be just as good as the book. Overall a first class story that I can recommend to anyone.
Slow first half but morphed into an astounding story. I’ve fined it a star due to the unsatisfactory formatting whereby the lack of introducing a new section leads to confusion. TIP: any paragraph that begins without indenting is the beginning of a new ‘chapter’ in the story. Otherwise enjoy!
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed all of the Smiley novels and many of Le Carre's other novels the TV series prompted me to try this. A fascinating set up and a taut conclusion should make this one of his best but a somewhat meandering middle section in which Charlie's fictitious back story is established and ingrained in her consciousness failed to hold my full attention. This is still a superior literary novel but a mile away from the heights reached in, say, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Perhaps the strictures of editing the book for television might, in this case, prove beneficial. It hurts me not to award five stars to one of my favourite authors but he has done better.