Guest Review: The Night Manager by John Le Carre

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Another brilliant review by Sarah H.! She’s been pushing Le Carré on me for years and now she’s going to do the same to you. Enjoy! 

Ever since Trump was elected, I’ve been longing to read John Le Carré. I put it down to the constant hints of Russian subterfuge on the news. It all seems so quaint (in the moments when you can forget it’s horrifying): Russian operatives in my mind are too closely connected with go-go dancers and bad hair.

Mr. Le Carré, for those not in the know, is the premier thriller novelist of the Cold War. He can plot but the man can also write. The well-read Hugh Laurie has admitted to fan-girling over Mr. Le Carré in his youth and that tells you a lot about the kind of novelist Mr. Le Carré is. High quality spy thrillers are the name of the game, but with an eye for character.

Of his many novels, I ended up reading the Night Manager which isn’t about the Cold War as it happens but is excellent anyway. It concerns a British ex-army turned luxury hotelier who comes face to face with the worst man in the world and decides to do something about it. It’s a story about what happens when ruthless evil is pursued by a morally minded bureaucracy. It was thought-provoking. It was also a blast.

My one complaint is that the Night Manager fails the Bechdel test hard. Every woman in the book is either the subject of a sexual conquest or somebody’s loving and supportive wife. Everyone interesting is male. I wish I thought Le Carré was doing this ironically to point out the gender biases of this world of high espionage, but I suspect he isn’t. That caveat aside, I enjoyed the book enormously. And because I think reading imperfect books is still a good thing, I would encourage others to do the same.

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