This one came off my shelf to make some room, as it's a moderately hefty hard back tome. My previous time with Le Carre has been OK, and I guess that's what I'd have to say about this one.
A Perfect Spy is essentially an exercise in back story and character development. In large measure, nothing really happens in here, and I found that a bit off putting. It wasn't terrible, but I did spend a bit of time wondering if anything - other than the rather predictable ending - would happen.
In previous books I've reviewed by Le Carre I've seen an odd problem: at times he randomly changes the point of view. It can be a bit bizarre to suddenly realize that we've gone from omniscient narrator to the limited point of view of some body guard. Thankfully I didn't note that in A Perfect Spy. Instead I had different problem.
The main character, Magnus Pym, has a somewhat split personality. In his role as narrator he regularly refers to himself as if he was someone else. This gets confusing and it took me nearly 100 pages to catch on. I kept wondering if there was some other character present that I'd somehow missed. Finally, though, I got it. I may be more than a bit dense - others might have recognized what was going on a lot faster - but it really slowed me down until I figured it out.
Other than that, I didn't really note anything all that good or bad. As I say, the ending was fairly predictable, but once you meet Pym and get the gist of where he is in life the ending is just about a given.
If you're into cold war spy stories you might enjoy this. If that isn't your bag, then you can probably give this one a pass.
Pym is a spya double-agent in facta perfect spy. That is why neither side gets the message. This is purported to be Le Carrés best novel. Me, I was bored to tears. It seems that the great spy also wants to write the great English novel. Instead he writes lettersmostly to his sonand in which he mostly refers to himself merely as Pym, detailing the intricacies of his life with father, whom he refers to as Rick. Father, it seems, is the commensurate con artist and convict cum national hero. Sort of a combination bootleggin Kennedy and Bill Hoggin of John Masters Loss of Eden trilogy. Despite this, I found it to be one gigantic ennui, although the spy portions were entertaining.
Dedicated to Le Carre's con-man father, A PERFECT SPY is a spy-story fictionalization of how growing up the son of a con man could be the ideal education of a natural-born double-agent.
"Epic in scope...overshadows his other bestsellers"
"His most compelling novel, one he may spend the rest of his life trying to top".
Magnus Pym-tops in intelligence work is missing.....
"BEST ENGLISH NOVEL SINCE THE WAR."-PHILIP ROTH
This is CHOICE le Carré. He has a way of getting into his characters minds and plotting so carefully and also showing the utter futility of the spying game.
"The premier spy novelist of our time...brilliantly written -- The Washington Post
From Publishers Weekly
Le Carre's new novel overshadows The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and his other bestsellers. The author's intense feelings, linguistic artistry and stinging wit draw the reader into the story of Magnus Pym, traitor. Epic in scope and length, the narrative moves backward and forward in time, recording crises-ridden events from the viewpoints of numerous characters. Primarily, the revelations are in an epistle Pym addresses to his young son Tom. The writer is holed-up in a remote country cottage where he tries to explain his crimes to the boy before pursuers find him. For years a trusted agent in British Intelligence, Pym has been giving England's and America's vital secrets to a contact in Czechoslovakia. Now Jack Brotherhood, the spy's mentor in the honorable organization, sadly agrees with colleagues that Pym is guilty. The proof is his disappearance, coincidental with data gushing from CIA computers and sent by U.S. agents to their opposite numbers in London. Determined to minimize the damage of Pym's treachery and create a coverup if possible, Brotherhood takes charge of a team searching for the betrayer. As the lives of everyone involved in this netherworld of espionage become tragically immediate to the reader, Le Carre again masterfully chronicles the dangerous game-playing world of international espionage.
The novel tells the tale of Magnus Pym, a long-time spy for the United Kingdom. When Pym mysteriously disappears, a number of his fellow secret agents suspect that he may have betrayed them, and not without reason throughout most of his career, Magnus was also cooperating with the Czechoslovak secret service. Although the book is filled with intrigue, wit, and suspense, the novel is in part an unadorned recollection of Rick, Magnus's father, who was based on Le Carré's own father.
Literature, not an action story. Nicely woven first person story of a complex life. Son of a troubled father and troubles carry on. British, of course.