‘I grew up thinking that spy stories were terribly passÃ© â€“derivative, obvious and crucially, lacking artistic merit. And what a terrible snob I was â€“only reading â€˜real literatureâ€™ to the detriment of anything else.
I cringe at the arrogance of my youth in dismissing the popular to pursue the avant garde, because as I approach middling years I am much more open minded in what I consume â€“and that has given me many new things to love.
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Top of that list is the work of John Le Carre. I would like to introduce you to â€˜The Spy Who Came in from the Coldâ€™
To indulge a little book reviewing clichÃ© it is a tense page-turner.
This book was written at the height of the cold war â€“the communist and nuclear threat was very real, and this insight, written by an active intelligence officer (Le Carre served in MI6) was as gritty and realistic as it got â€“in comparison to Flemingâ€™s misogynist vodka martini drinker.
The story hinges on Alex Leamas â€“an aging intelligence officer, working to infiltrate East German intelligence. I want to say more â€“but sharing anything else would be to betray the story and ruin your fun.
The joy is in the writing â€“Le Carre is spare in his use of language, but conveys a huge amount in what little is said, and also importantly what is not said. The characterisation is stunning, and real â€“the characters operate in grey areas and we are never truly sure of allegiance, action or thought.
An examination of faith in humanity, political conviction and loyalty, the book draws you in further and further â€“with intelligent twists, and a dramatic dÃ©nouement. A rereading throws up even more questions, and as you grow to care for Leamas you can see the bigger machinations and what he is walking into.
It is a truly stunning piece of writing, taut and well paced, rewarding at all the right points
I am excited when I meet someone that has not read it, as I know what enjoyment they have ahead of them. That, and an expensive Le Carre habit as the George Smiley stories are not far awayâ€¦’
Each monthly GD Bookworm winner will receive a prize as well as a pair of glasses and thisÂ April, the winner will receive one of our goody bags from this monthâ€™s press event. Like what you see below? It could be yours. All you need to do isÂ email us your review, along with a picture of yourself with the book your reviewing. Simples.
Email your entries to:Â firstname.lastname@example.org
And donâ€™t forget to include a pictureÂ of yourself with the book!
(If youâ€™re camera shy, just the book will do but weâ€™d rather see your lovely faces!)