A Legacy of Spies: A Novel Paperback – May 1, 2018
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“Le Carré’s prose remains brisk and lapidary. His wit is intact and rolls as if on casters... I might as well say it: to read this simmering novel is to come in from the cold.” —New York Times
“Le Carré is such a gifted storyteller that he interlaces the cards in his deck so they fit not simply with this book, but with the earlier ones as well.” —The Atlantic
"A kind of eulogy for the present as well as the past, A Legacy of Spies is haunting." —Chicago Tribune
"Swift and satisfying." —USA Today
“We wish for more complexity and logic in our politics, so we look to make political art that is logical and complex: a genre defined by John le Carré.” —New Republic
“The spy master’s latest Smiley novel entwines today’s world with a lost one... Ingenious."
"Intricately plotted and richly satisfying." —Star Tribune
"Gripping."—The Christian Science Monitor
"[Le Carré] can convey a character in a sentence, land an emotional insight in [a] phrase & demolish an ideology in a paragraph." —Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Any reader who knows le Carré's earlier work, and quite a few who don't, will assume that any attempt to second-guess the mandarins of the Service will backfire. The miracle is that the author can revisit his best-known story and discover layer upon layer of fresh deception beneath it.”
Praise for John le Carré
“One of our great writers of moral ambiguity, a tireless explorer of that darkly contradictory no-man’s land.”
—Los Angeles Times
“No other writer has charted—pitilessly for politicians but thrillingly for readers—the public and secret histories of his times.”
—The Guardian (UK)
“I would suggest immortality for John le Carré, who I believe one of the most intelligent and entertaining writers working today.”
—Alan Cheuse, Chicago Tribune
“The constant flow of emotion lifts le Carré not only above all modern suspense novelists, but above most novelists now practicing.”
“A writer of towering gifts.”
—The Independent (UK)
About the Author
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Paperback : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0735225133
- ISBN-13 : 978-0735225138
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
- Publisher : Penguin Books; Reprint Edition (May 1, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #179,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I have read some to the positive reviews of 'A Legacy of Spies' and could not understand how they could be so effusive.
Some of the reviews that did not like the novel point to a weak ending. That may be true, but the ending was the only part of the writing that I enjoyed even if it did not make up for the first couple of hundred pages.
This has left me with a book hangover that I fear only another le Carre novel can cure. Maybe it's time I reread the Smiley novels.
Top reviews from other countries
You need to be aware of some half-witted newspaper reviews of this book. They don't seem to have read closely and understood the chronology, and so you will read some disparaging comments about George Smiley making an appearance when he is over 100 years old. They have missed the point that the events in "A Legacy..." are not happening in the present day. The chronology is thus: the narrator Peter Guillam is at some point in the 2010s (perhaps even 2017) is reflecting back upon both events in the mid-1990s when he was required by the Service to revisit events of the late 1950s. There are clues to the 1990s setting through the book (e.g. the description of the Mi6 building in Vauxhall makes it seem relatively new; Guillam is asked if he has a mobile phone or an e-mail, which would be odd questions to ask someone nowadays). Then toward the end of the book, Le Carre drops in a line almost as a throw-away which indicates that the narration is reflecting historical events.
It is a lovely touch by Le Carre ; a bit of "circle-within- a-circle" misdirection befitting a novel about spies.
So, for your mental picture assume a Peter Guillam in his mid-eighties; reflecting on a time in the mid-1990s. In the mid-1990s, Guillam is in his early sixties and is recently retired and George Smiley is in his early eighties. Guillam is being required to revisit events of the late 1950s and early 1960s when he was in his late twenties to early thirties.
Not so difficult to get the head around. The critics in the newspaper book reviews should perhaps stick to Dan Brown books.
Smiley has appeared in a number of Le Carre's novels, sometimes as a principal protagonist as in the first two novels or "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy," in others as a minor character. He makes an appearance in this novel and his presence is felt. But the main character in "A Legacy of Spies" is another character who will be familiar to Le Carre readers namely Peter Guillam who is the narrator here.
Writing in the first person is to my knowledge is new to Le Carre. But it works well. The writing is pacy and lucid. The book makes for a good read. Guillam has been recalled to London in Smiley's absence to deal with a fall out from the events described in "the Spy." Firstly from children of Leamas and Liz, and secondly from political masters with different values to those of the Cold War looking to expose the "sins" of the past.
There has always been an element of Le Carre being a moralist in some of his novels, even if this is not worn on the sleeve. This usually concerns the morality of politics and spying, not to mention matters of loyalties and betrayal. At the end of it Smiley voices a commentary on this which might be that of the whole Cold War. But at the same time the novel progresses as a story. Those wanting just a good read will not be disappointed either.
The novel could be read in isolation. But at the same time what is given here is a tying up of threads in the novels where Smiley appears . Much of it adds background to the events and characters described in "The Spy" and links them into events and characters in the later novels. "A Legacy" makes for a very satisfying tie up of the Smiley/Circus sequence of novels. Perhaps not Le Carre's very greatest, but up near them