Monday, March 19, 2007

Book Review: The Honourable Schoolboy

Author: John le Carré

This is another le Carré book featuring George Smiley, which I always find interesting to read. (Smiley is an enigmatic character, and it’s always difficult to know what’s going on in his head, unless le Carré specifically tells you.) The “honourable schoolboy” of the title is a man named Jerry Westerby, a spy working for Smiley, but the book is really about Smiley. That being said, of course, Westerby is for more than a minor character, and to a certain extent, his actions drive the plot, especially near the end of the book.

The book takes place in 1975 or 1976, mostly in Hong Kong, and involves a very complex plot involving a Russian slush fund, that I wasn’t fully able to follow. (le Carré’s plots are always complex, and he’s never afraid of giving his characters more than two dimensions, which can make things even more complex.)

Actually, this isn’t much of a book review. I usually have a lot to say about any books I read—especially the ones that I like—but in this case, I don’t feel that I want to say much about the plot. If you’d like, you can read the summary on Wikipedia, although it’s got spoilers, so be aware. (You can tell it’s a complicated book by the fact that the Wikipedia summary is so long!)

I’ve mentioned le Carré before, in other book reviews, because I’m a big fan. If you enjoy spy novels, you’ll find that le Carré’s books have more depth than some of the the other books in the genre, and a number of his books are now considered classics, for this reason.