Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 14, 2018
The Secret Pilgrim is le Carre's 11th entry into the spy/espionage genre. It is a collection of short stories chronologically following some of the career high/low(?) points of an associate of George Smiley's, Ned, who Smiley mentored since Ned was a young, unworldly recruit. The various stories' plot lines frequently tip toe near the verge of boredom, but are saved by occasional bursts of le Carre's eloquent writing saving the day. Hard core fans such as me will find this a pleasant read in a low key sort of way, those readers not familiar with le Carre's body of work may be hard pressed to find any reason to persevere. A recurring theme in the stories seems to come back to a creeping malaise overtaking Ned and frequently expressed in a sequential cheating on his partner with other women(somewhat of a reversal of George Smiley's relationship with his wife, Ann). As with so much of le Carre's work it isn't a mad leap to assume the author writes so frequently on a subject because it is resonates with his own life and adds piquancy to the already poignant picture left by his other novels. It is not easy being David Cornwell(le Carre's nom de plume), but my world is richer for his gifting me with the work of what I consider one of the living masters of the English language. The Secret Pilgrim's last few pages drive home what will come to be a recurring theme in le Carre's shift from covert Cold War machinations to corporate/personal greed/gluttony in the world his books paint. The author wonders if materialism will triumph over the West where Communism failed and promises no easy amswers.
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