Monday, November 28, 2011

The Honourable Schoolboy


By John le Carré

After 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy', I was convinced that le Carré was too good to ignore, so I bought three more of his novels, and this is the first of those. At 686 pages its a brick of a book and I was expecting something byzantine in its complexity, but entertaining. Alas, though it may be Byzantine, 'The Honourable Schoolby' isn't particularly entertaining, at least, I didn't find it so. Sadly, its just too long to support a story which moves so slowly and whilsy flowery depictions of the pointless wars and the rotting Asian landscape might ring some people's bell, it didn't do anything for me. I chewed my way through it, hoping until I'd reached about 75% that this wasn't the reality of George Smiley, but it seems the negative impressions I'd received of this character in the past (mostly from BBC radio plays) were far more accurate than I'd hoped. 'The world's greatest fictional spymaster', as Newsweek is quoted as calling him, seems more like a jaded navel gazer to me, and whilst their might be some realism mixed into the story, reality usually isn't entertaining enough to justify a book this thick and turgid. Its not that this novel was badly written, its just that the story was boring.

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