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Profile Image for Beata.
733 reviews1,112 followers
October 18, 2021
A definite winner for me.
The tale that connects the present with the distant and not so distant past, secrets and the ways the spy world operates. John le Carre knows how to uncover the truth in a most teasing way and how to make a reader speculate on the possible interconnections, subtleties and well-masked deeds.
The writing style, the language and the characters remind me a little of The Delicate Truth and The Constant Gardener which I could read non-stop. I always love the language, indiosyncratic for le Carre, and being a non-native speaker of English, I dive into it and learn, learn, learn ...
And let me just add that Mr Toby Jones does a terrific job with the interpretation of this book. His voice and diction match the story splendidly. You are the best, Mr Jones!
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,346 reviews4,864 followers
November 13, 2022

Stewart Proctor is in the upper echelons of the British Secret Service and - during and after the Cold War - oversaw the handlers who actually recruited and ran spies.

During the Bosnian war, a husband and wife team of handlers recruited a Polish polylinguist named Edward Avon, an avid anti-communist eager to help the British cause.

Avon was to integrate himself into Serbian and Bosnian communities, gather data, and report back to his handlers, who would pass the information to Proctor.

Edward was considered a prize acquisition, and when his spy career ended, he moved to a British seaside region called East Anglia and got married.

In the present day, Secret Service honcho Stewart Proctor gets a letter from a British agent, which leads him to launch an investigation into Edward Avon.

Meanwhile, back in East Anglia, Julian Lawndsley- who got rich in London's business world - recently quit the rat race and opened a bookstore.

Julian is happy to chat when (former spy) Edward Avon drops into the bookstore one evening, since the gentleman with the European accent is amiable and erudite. Julian learns that Edward and his wife Deborah live on a ritzy East Anglian estate called Silverview, and that Deborah has terminal cancer.

Before long Edward convinces Julian to create an annex in the bookstore's basement called the Republic of Literature, which will carry 'literary books.' Edward will select and order the books using Julian's computer.

Julian soon learns that Edward once had a business deal with a local bric-a-brac store, to sell his wife's blue and white porcelain. This endeavor also required using the shop's computer.

Julian thinks nothing of all this, but the reader gets suspicious....especially when Edward asks for additional favors from Julian.

Meanwhile, spymaster Stewart Proctor is traveling around England interviewing people who knew Avon in his espionage days, trying to re-create Edward's history with the Secret Service.

In the course of the story we get a peek into the lives of intelligence agents, who have spouses and children like the rest of society, but whose work takes a huge toll on their personal lives. We also learn the truth about Edward Avon, and it's an interesting revelation.

This is John le Carré's last novel, published after his death, and it's not the writer's best work (in my opinion). Still, for people who like stories about spies and spycraft, the book is worth reading.

Author John le Carré

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Profile Image for Woman Reading .
431 reviews270 followers
November 4, 2021
3.5 ☆
My only wise words of advice ... A radical's a radical. Doesn't matter whether he's an ex-Communist or an ex anything else. He's the same chap. You don't change your reasoning just because your conclusion's changed. Human nature.

Before succumbing to cancer, a worried wife performs one last act of duty to the Service and couriers a secret warning. As Head of Domestic Security, Stewart Proctor must decide whether it's nothing more than a private marital spat or a revelation of treason that requires follow-up.
No more air-conditioned treadmills, sunlamps and saunas for him, thank you; no more alcoholic revels to celebrate another dicey, socially useless financial coup, and the one-night stands that inevitably follow. London man is dead.

Julian Lawndsley has cast off the shackles of the rat race in the City's financial corridors for a simpler life in a small seaside town in East Anglia. Edward Avon pops up at Julian's new bookstore. In his rich and compelling voice, slightly tinged with a foreign cadence, Edward proclaims a friendship with Julian's father during their public school days. Edward is married to Deborah whose family estate Silverview is perched at the far side of town and which has a view of the sea. And in short order with subtle maneuvering, Edward soon entangles Julian into his schemes...
[Julian] was learning to see the entire Avon clan and its offshoots as being united, not in the secrets they shared, but in the secrets they kept from one another.

John le Carré died in December 2020, and he had left behind a slim unpublished manuscript, Silverview. In the afterword, the author's son stated that this draft had needed little editing as it had been repeatedly worked upon and then put aside since 2013. Compared with the complex plots of the George Smiley Karla trilogy, Silverview is a simpler, yet still oblique, tale of spies, thwarted foreign policies, and a frustrated Intelligence Service which may have further muddied the waters.
The truth is, old boy ... we didn't do much to alter the course of human history, did we? As one old spy to another, I reckon I'd have been more use running a boys' club.

After reading nearly a dozen le Carré novels, his touch is apparent in the cynicism and in the less than adulatory assessment of the Service which dissembles its goals from its own people. Silverview is just as polished as Agent Running in the Field, the last book published while le Carre was alive, though it lacks the passion that fueled the acerbic wit of the latter. Most of this story is viewed in the rearview mirror as key events had transpired during the Cold War and then in the Bosnian War. Silverview is far from le Carré's best but it's still an appreciated parting memento from the great espionage writer.

My review was published first at
Profile Image for Elizabeth George.
Author 114 books4,826 followers
February 20, 2022
I must preface this by saying that John Le Carre is the writer whose career trajectory I most admire and would most like to emulate. His earliest books were fairly simple, even The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. As he continued to write, he continued to grow artistically until he was writing such masterpieces as A Perfect Spy and The Constant Gardener. I always refer to him as "the incomparable John Le Carre" and I was very sad to hear of his death in December 2020. This, then is his final novel. Prior to passing away, he asked his youngest son to make sure it was published. It's vintage Le Carre. I think of his approach to novel writing as a take-no-prisoners affair in that he assumes readers are going to follow the plot no matter how convoluted it becomes and no matter how few times he's mentioned a character's name. This holds true for his final novel. It's very brief but as complicated as his longer works. There are spies, former spies, conflicted spies, and betraying spies. There are those who are duped and there are those that do the duping. Ultimately the book tells the story of how a terrible crime against a family during the war in Bosnia and Serbia turned a master spy into a master traitor. I truly loved it.
Profile Image for Melanie.
365 reviews5 followers
November 1, 2021
This book was disappointing for me. I generally like John le Carre, but found Silverview confusing and disjointed, and the pay-off in the end was meh. I just didn't know what was going on most of the time. The characters were shallow, every one an enigma of some sort. But as a result, I did not care about any of them.
Even the writing felt off. Lots of sentence fragments, dialogue that isn't dialogue, maybe it's in their heads, maybe it's said out loud, not sure who is speaking at times -- seriously, quotation marks were invented for a reason. I can see why he had not published it. The psychology of it and the (not-so-subtle) underlying criticism of British Intelligence and foreign policy are the high points.
October 16, 2021
Released 14th October 21, the last published book of the late John LeCarre, a literary giant.


“Who are you Edward?- you who have been so many people and pretended to be still others? Who do we find when we’ve pulled away the layers of disguise? Or were you only ever the sum of all your disguises?”

A chance encounter between Edward Avon, from the Bosnian intelligence force and Julian Lawndsley, a bookshop owner from East Anglia plus a letter that turns up at the door of a spy chief warning him of a dangerous leak, are all the ingredients needed to create a heightened level of suspense from the opening pages.

This chance encounter is in fact a meeting between the master and the novice as the somewhat naïve Lawndsley is persuaded to set up a new book venture in the unused basement of his shop to be called “Republic of Literature” and is furthermore manipulated into delivering a message to a woman in London that Edward claims to be having an affair with. In the meantime, Proctor, Head of domestic security, investigates Edwards’s days and involvement in the Bosnian war and with the hints of defection the story leads us through a path of deceit and lies, as more is revealed about all the characters and the plot in the book.

Whilst LeCarre draws the reader into playing their part and can sometimes leave the book endings with its own level of suspense, it begs the question if perhaps on this occasion he did not get round to finishing the book properly. But then again, this is what we know of Silverview. It was believed to be finished in 2016 only to be released posthumous on 14th October 21, at LeCarre’s request. No explanation was given by his family or his editor as to why LeCarre did not want the book published during his lifetime when he went on to write two more novels, but this is the last of LeCarre’s books to be published.

What we do get from the book is more insight into LeCarre’s view of the intelligence service and its monstrous bureaucracy, and the incongruity of the secret world of the intelligence services, in his view, in need of reform. Perhaps his timely release is to encourage the reflection on the relationship between the nation’s government and its people. When two old spies meet, the comment reflects not just the tone and view in the book but also of LeCaree’s own personal view

“We didn’t do much to alter the course of human history did we? Philip replies “.. as one old spy to another I would have been more use running a boys club”

No doubt this will become one of the best sellers in 2021, and one of the most anticipated novels this autumn since the death of the wonderfully talented legend that is John LeCarre. The popularity of John LeCarre’s body of work is enormous and has brought him world wide acclaim as the best spy novelist ever. I would certainly endorse that view having read so many of LeCarre’s books and enjoyed so many of the film adaptions of his novels. However, I wish the master of espionage had left us with one of the biggest achievements of his career and unfortunately Silverview did not achieve that in my opinion. Nevertheless, this is a novella at 200 pages, but it still possesses all the intrigue we come to expect from LeCarre, I adore his writing style, the multi-layered and complex nature of his plots and he will always remain one of my favourites authors of all time.
Profile Image for Daniel Shindler.
255 reviews75 followers
October 26, 2021
When I was much younger, I stumbled upon the novel “ Call for the Dead.” I became entranced by John LeCarre, eagerly looking forward to each new release. I awaited the posthumously published “ Silverview” with a sense of anticipation and wistfulness, knowing that I would never again be able to savor a newly published book by this author.

This final book is a fitting addition to LeCarre’s body of work.For me, it is not fruitful to evaluate where the book ranks within his prodigious output.It is satisfying enough that”Silverview” contains the elements that have made me an avid follower of this author.He once again constructs a plot that centers around the mendacity and betrayals that are rooted in the human predilection for self delusion and willingness to believe justifications that reduce subtly shaded problems into simply accepted clarion calls to action.He embeds his themes in sinuously crafted narratives that reflect on bureaucratic incompetence, geopolitical turbulence and the role of institutions in impacting individual lives.

We are immediately thrust into a level of intrigue when a young lady,pushing a pram on a rainswept morning, delivers a secret letter to a spymaster in London.On that same morning there is a seemingly chance encounter in East Anglia between Edward Avon,a figure with a shadowy past, and Julian Lawndsley.Julian is a bookseller with little knowledge of books who has eschewed the pressures of a City financial trader to pursue a more tranquil life in a small seaside town.It soon becomes apparent that this is a meeting between a seducer and a naïf.Edward has past ties to the secret world.Julian is struggling to find his way in his newly chosen career and is grateful for Edward’s offer to help in selecting stock for the bookshop and in organizing Julian’s computers.As this process unfolds, the spymaster in London has examined the secret letter and departs for East Anglia to investigate a serious security leak.

LeCarre’s sparse, subtle prose slowly unwinds the serpentine plot and reveals backstories, delusions and nuances of social interactions in a constricted yet shifting milieu.People are watched,monitored and hunted.The characters confront truths about themselves and the ways in which they deceive themselves and others.

Ultimately, LeCarre’s legacy goes beyond that of a spy novelist. He distinguishes himself by his portrayal of the romance of seduction.In the process he prompts the reader to consider the difference between the face we present to the world and the inner secret view of self that every one harbors within. “ Silverview” is a worthy creation that forces us to consider this eternal conundrum.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,690 followers
October 14, 2021
Hard to close the book on this one. I'll write more. Read it on a flight from Maine to DFW. Not quite a novel but a lovely novella by one of the greatest writers of the 20th Century.
Profile Image for George K..
2,369 reviews292 followers
February 1, 2022
Τρία χρόνια πέρασαν από την τελευταία φορά που διάβασα βιβλίο του Τζον Λε Καρέ, και πραγματικά απορώ με τον εαυτό μου, γιατί ενώ μου αρέσει σαν συγγραφέας, τον έχω παραμελήσει τόσο πολύ: Αυτό είναι μόλις το πέμπτο βιβλίο του που διαβάζω! Τέλος πάντων, θέλω να ελπίζω ότι θα επανορθώσω από εδώ και πέρα. Λοιπόν, το "Σίλβερβιου" είναι το τελευταίο δημοσιευμένο μυθιστόρημα του μαιτρ των κατασκοπευτικών ιστοριών και είναι ένα λιτό και απέριττο αλλά συνάμα οξυδερκές κατασκοπευτικό δράμα, που αναδεικνύει με ρεαλιστικό και ανθρώπινο τρόπο τον κόσμο των μυστικών υπηρεσιών, τον κόσμο των κατασκόπων, που και αυτοί άνθρωποι είναι, με προβλήματα και αδυναμίες, όπως όλοι. Μια κάποια προσοχή τη θέλει κατά την ανάγνωση, γίνεται λίγο περίπλοκο και αμφίσημο εδώ κι εκεί -όπως νομίζω όλες οι ιστορίες του συγγραφέα-, σίγουρα δεν τα δίνει όλα έτοιμα στο πιάτο ο Λε Καρέ, εξάλλου ο κόσμος των κατασκόπων είναι γεμάτος μπερδέματα, ψευδείς πληροφορίες, λάθη και παραλείψεις. Η γραφή είναι πολύ καλή, χωρίς φιοριτούρες και πολυλογίες, με λεπτή αίσθηση του χιούμορ και τον απαραίτητο κυνισμό. Γαμώτο, πρέπει να διαβάζω συχνότερα Τζον Λε Καρέ: Κάνει καλό.
Profile Image for Roman Clodia.
2,430 reviews2,511 followers
October 17, 2021
This has the feel of a valedictory book, suffused as it is with a backward-looking, retrospective narrative - all the real 'action' as such has already taken place during the Cold War and Bosnian conflict, and in the present there's both a piecing together of this past story and an understanding of the consequences which have ensued.

It's no surprise, then, that the spymasters are largely aged, ill, dying - and the Service itself feels a bit of a has-been, looking back to its glory days while struggling now with maintaining a place in the world which Britain has, largely, lost.

This isn't, for me, vintage le Carré but it's still astute in political terms.
Profile Image for Jill Mackin.
345 reviews158 followers
October 17, 2021
This was such a brilliant story! I think it ranks up there with his classic The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. All the moral ambiguities that are standard in
LeCarre’s characters are front and center in Silverview. Highly recommend. Sorry it’s his last novel.
103 reviews1 follower
October 13, 2021
At this time in the pandemic (October 2021) what I needed was a gripping tale that I could get lost in for about a week or so to escape the endless chatter about Covid or whether the Chinese were about to engulf the world - or at least eat Taiwan as an appetizer. Imagine my delight when I found a Le Carre book that I had not read, and his final book at that! So, oh great god Amazon, bring it forth for my reading pleasure, and the god obliged with it's usual speed, efficiency and disregard for cardboard.
After ripping off the cardboard and disposing of the inflatable bags, I was initially disappointed to see how thin the book was - less than 300 pages. This will not occupy a full week , I thought, and so it proved to be for I devoured it in two relatively short sittings, or rather lying downs. It was great, up to Le Carre's usual standard. Despite the initial or obvious lack of a adversary or an amiable foreign agent, I was hooked from the outset and read vocaciously to discover who was part of the Circus, who wasn't and what they were all up to. I loved the main characters, several of which had fascinating back stories ..... but you will have to read it to find out more. i think I will now go back and re-read all his books...
Profile Image for Martina.
1,130 reviews
October 23, 2021
Final novel from John le Carre who died during December 2020. I'll be reading it as I have all his books!

Started reading the book two days ago. Just enjoying the read. Sigh. Did not want to rush this. My only alternative after this book is to go back and reread his entire output! Now that's an idea.....

I finished the book and had to think about what I'd read for a bit. The afterword by the author's son, who had promised to see the book through publication after his father died, helped a great deal. I don't want to say much else as you need to just read the book and decide things for yourself. For me, it's 5 stars for a lifetime of pleasure reading!
Profile Image for Leslie Ray.
177 reviews95 followers
November 26, 2021
This manuscript was discovered by John le Carre's son and seemed a fitting finale to his previous works. There is a lot of discourse and insight based upon earlier Cold War events. Julian, the main character, is a former London hotshot who flees his life there to open a bookshop in a small English village. He befriends Edward and is drawn into his world of secrets and spies. The clues and mysteries unravel through the atmosphere and dialogue of all the players. The different plots eventually converge. The melancholy of the disenchanted intelligence officers was only enhanced by my own sadness that this was John Le Carre's last novel.
Profile Image for Kathy.
3,348 reviews177 followers
October 17, 2021
Having read Mick Herron's review in The Guardian from October 14 (2021), I would recommend anyone interested in reading this book to check that out before reading this book. I simply jumped into the book based on author's previous works after excitedly checking it out from my library. I found myself mightily confused through much of the book.
There were major characters and events to follow, but it seemed to me like observing stick figures being moved about atop a shoebox theatre. Yes, it's about spooks, but these spooks are unusually spooky.
The title comes from the name of a house featured in the book, but Herron explains better than I can. At first I liked the main character who had left a city career and opened a book shop, but things happen to him that are hard to swallow. If I could advise, I would have told him to just stay in London.
Rest in peace, dear author.

Library Loan
Profile Image for Matt Quann.
630 reviews382 followers
September 4, 2022
When I snagged this at the airport for a paltry $2 CAD, I'd hoped to get through it during my airport wait and a flight. Well, it ended up taking a bit longer due not to the quality of the writing, rather my inability to read when turbulence strikes. Nonetheless, my second le Carré novel--his last--was a poignant and taught spy novel.

When compared to The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, this novel/novella feels infinitely more provincial and narrowed in its focus. There's no grand attempt at espionage at the outset, and the reevaluation of past actions and loyalties reveals itself in alternating POV chapters. The opening chapter follows a proverbial bloodhound out to find the source of a leak from an esteemed and palliative colleague. The alternating chapters focus on former London banker, now real bookseller, Julian Lawndsley as he befriends the eccentric and charming Edward.

Where the book goes is half the excitement, but I found myself rather enamoured with le Carré's writing in this novel. He has a knack for a densely packed paragraph that brings a scene to life and stand-ins for dialogue that work quite well. Though the plot occasionally felt like it was evading me, a cursory examination of the ever-trustworthy Wikipedia article assures me I understood it all. It's a bit of a trick to get used to the writing in these novels, but one that pays dividends.

In the end, this was a welcome diversion from the thicker, more challenging piece of literature that's on my bedside table. I loved the ending and final line, which landed with much the same impact as The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. I suppose the man has a knack for endings and as far as final novels go, this is a fine send off.
Profile Image for Renata.
396 reviews89 followers
November 12, 2021
Well that was an unexpected pleasant surprise. Chose this on a whim as an add-on to my BOTM pick, and glad I did. I’ve never read le Carre before and remember not liking the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy movie, so this was a surprising choice. I liked the story and they way it unfolded. I do have a feeling that had he lived to “work” it some more and publish it when he was ready, it would have more “meat on the bones”. Alas, it is what it is. I enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Roving Book Review.
3 reviews1 follower
October 14, 2021
I read John Le Carré’s Silverview today and what a joy it was! Le Carré truly was a master of his art and Silverview - a brilliantly crafted spy novel, fine-tuned to the precision of a Swiss clockwork - is a farewell worthy of Le Carré’s literary genius.
Profile Image for Michael.
265 reviews24 followers
October 17, 2021
Masterful, gripping, thought-provoking and brilliant. As I read this I was both astounded and saddened knowing that it will be the last work that we receive from this, one of our greatest contemporary authors. Cheers to you and rest in peace David Cornwell!
Profile Image for Paula.
673 reviews131 followers
October 22, 2021
A magnificent final work,from an extraordinary author.
Profile Image for Fiona.
828 reviews437 followers
August 9, 2022
A relatively short le Carre, published after his death. There is a touching afterword by his son in which he muses that his father may not have wanted the book published in his lifetime because it is less than complimentary about the Service that he loved and to which he was always loyal. He stresses that this is his theory only and is without foundation but, having read the book, I suppose it is possible.

Julian leaves the City to open up a bookshop on the Suffolk coast. He meets Edward Avon who tells him he’s an old school friend of his late father, befriends Julian, supports his business and asks some favours of him. Julian is not of an inquisitive nature. We know he’s not a great reader, despite opening a bookshop, and clearly he hasn’t read any spy novels or he might have been less naive! Enjoyable, a quick read, and a fitting cheerio from the master of all spy novel authors.
Profile Image for Sid Nuncius.
1,128 reviews96 followers
December 5, 2021
I thought Silverview was very good. I’ve found le Carré’s non-Smiley books rather variable, but this was definitely one of the better ones; not an absolute classic, perhaps, but with much of le Carré’s real class in evidence.

It’s hard to say much about the plot without significant spoilers as apparently separate stories gradually merge. A new, somewhat naive bookseller in an East Anglian coastal town is befriended by a rather odd but knowledgeable local man. Meanwhile, there appears to be some near-panic in the Secret Intelligence Services, although it takes some time to piece together why. It gradually becomes clear how these things may be related and we get some vintage le Carré on the workings of the SIS, the psychology of those involved and the motivations of an agent.

It’s all done in beautifully restrained, poised prose which wastes no words but manages to imply so much, so an apparently spare and simple story is rich and involving. I found it engrossing and very readable, but slightly let down by a somewhat transparent ending with some over-explicit exposition at one point. Nonetheless, this is in a class above most contemporary espionage fiction and it stands as a worthy farewell from a genuine master of the genre.
Profile Image for Bill Keefe.
305 reviews4 followers
December 11, 2021
Vintage Carre. Nothing happens. Few things move. People are interviewed. Others pose, indecisive because they only have enough information to know that they don't know how to act. The sky is grey turning to night, the landscape bleak. The past is always in question. The answer elusive, eventually anticlimactic. You, the reader, implore the storyteller to go on forever, continue this murky, chilling ode to lost innocence, whose truths hover eternally ambivalent. Even more so now, knowing that the end came before the beginning of the book, before you opened the book jacket and said goodbye.
Profile Image for Lyn.
63 reviews29 followers
December 9, 2021
The last book from the master, John le Carre, who we lost last year on Dec 12. An excellent read - highly recommend if you are a le Carre fan.
Profile Image for Joy D.
1,900 reviews220 followers
December 29, 2021
Protagonist Julian has moved from the city to a small English town and opened a bookshop. He meets Edward and other former spies. Edward manipulates him into doing him favors” that are more than they appear at face value. Edward is under investigation by the home office. It slowly builds complex relationships among the characters and provides their backstories. It is more of a character study than an action-packed spy thriller. It has a melancholy tone. We see the impact of the spying life on the personal lives of the characters. There are quite a few literary references. This is the last novel by John le Carre’, published posthumously in 2021. It is not my favorite of his works, but I enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Phil Teves.
59 reviews2 followers
January 31, 2022
Should have left this in the drawer. Muddled, incoherent drivel. Sorry I wasted my time
Profile Image for Shane.
Author 11 books252 followers
December 30, 2021
I wondered whether this novel should have been titled The Spy Who Returned to the Cold, instead of the name of the innocuous estate that does not have much of a bearing on the story.

Le Carré’s final novel, somewhat incomplete in my mind, deals with the aging spy who turns against his masters after witnessing the horrors of war, and lives to tell the tale (we think) instead of getting shot at the dividing line between East and West.

Two story lines converge: (a) that of Proctor, a Service veteran investigating a leak alerted by one of his star operatives, Deborah, and (b) that of the foster parent-child relationship that springs up between the enigmatic ex-spy Edward (Deborah’s husband) and Julian, a hotshot investment banker who has given it all up to run a bookshop in a coastal town and further the cause of literature.

Both Edward and Julian are driven by causes, both had bad parents, both are outsiders in their respective worlds. Julian had unfulfilling experiences in London that made him retreat to a small town and invest in a fragile enterprise with indeterminate rewards; Edward, once anti-catholic, anti-Fascist, and anti-imperialist, becomes a Communist but reverts back when the Cold War exposes the underbelly of the East, and then in later years is completely disillusioned with his western masters when he is exposed to the horrors of Bosnia. From their first casual meeting in the bookshop, a symbiotic relationship develops between the two men, and Julian goes along with Edward’s plans for the expansion of his new venture, knowing that all is not as it is cracked out to be, but unable to get off the path he has embarked on with the older man.

Deborah, on the other hand, is an old empire loyalist, respected by her handlers and given special privileges like secure access to top secret networks. She is overtly racist, calling her mixed-race grandson a Sambo. She is also dying of cancer, which makes Proctor’s job that more urgent to uncover the leak that has emanated from her estate, Silverview. For this novel, Le Carré has decided to bring the Cold War from across the Berlin Wall and into the living room at Silverview.

In the course of Proctor’s investigations, we are exposed to the evolution of the Cold War spy and their oft repeated question “We didn’t do much to alter the course of human history, did we?” Disillusionment leads to betrayal and illness in the case of Edward and Deborah.

This book could have done with about fifty more pages of character buildup, particularly with Deborah, her daughter Lucy, and the two women who influenced Edward and “turned” him: Ania and Salma. Le Carré is known for his weak female characters and that is evident here. I also found the lack of quotes for dialogue in some lines and the presence of them in others, the arbitrary flipping between present and past tense (for effect? it had the opposite effect on me!) and the ruminations of some of the characters that would suddenly pop up on the page, to be all examples of sloppy writing—perhaps Le Carré had given up on being crowned a literary writer, was keen to get this one finished and out of the way, and used the shortest routes wherever possible.

I also found the afterword by Nick Cornwell unnecessary—sure this book was about some dark secrets in the service being outed, about dissention in the ranks, but weren’t all the Smiley books also about interdepartmental rivalry and skirmishing, and even sabotage? Perhaps the goings-on at a country estate like Silverview had really taken place, and this retelling was cutting closer to the bone?

I think this final Le Carré novel will carry through to best-sellerdom (I think it may have already arrived there even before the book was released) purely on the nostalgia of his fans wanting one last drag of this murky world of Cold War spies, a world that has now morphed into something more sinister and bloody.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,276 reviews558 followers
December 18, 2021
Exquisite swan song. Read it in two sittings and was engaged from the very first. He did character carving here. It became even further deepened by the voids. One of the few writers who could switch time periods or narrators too without doing 3 or 4 intro context pages each time. That I totally appreciate.

This is shorter, more distinct to the 4 to 6 prime characters and covering more time spans than most of his dense work. The people who seem to be the hugest le Carre' fans tend to like that immense detail of prisms' density. I am generally the opposite. So I liked this more than 2 or 3 of his others I've read in the past.

No plot reveals here. The technique of looking backwards, saying good-byes in formal and informal manners, and in pivotal times of great hierarchy change are the keys here.

The man sure could write. His legacy for Cold War eyes is so accurate too. This last work is absolutely worthy- all the way to its end. With all the moral ambiguities embedded too within the information "find and tell" business.

Dorothy was such an immensely interesting character. She "was" le Carre', the boss. Proctor non-withstanding. Le Carre' was brave to say goodbye this particular way.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,755 reviews