Absolute Friends by John Le Carre - Book Review


Absolute Friends by John Le Carré - Book Review


Ted Mundy was born on the Indian subcontinent just as the country was tearing itself apart at independence. The young Ted is happy in the shiny new state of Pakistan, with his cricket bat, ideal climate, and young female admirers, but his army father is cashiered and they return to a cold and grey Britain where food is still rationed, where Ted is never truly accepted at school, despite his exceptional ability at fast bowling.

Sasha is the son of a Lutheran pastor and the two first meet as bright-eyed idealistic young men in Berlin during the revolutionary sixties. Their relationship is destined to be long and complicated, their friendship sure to be tested to the limit.

So opens Absolute Friends, John Le Carré's nineteenth novel.

The book spans more than fifty years, through university, marriage, children, divorce, affairs, money worries, and that's just the simple things in life.

Workwise is something entirely different. Shadowy characters, weird assignments, invisible boundaries that occasionally both the characters and reader notices, and other times not. You know how it is with a John Le Carré book!

I liked Absolute Friends, despite the somewhat clunky messages hidden within. It just depends on whether you approved of the Gulf War, or not. Clearly Mister LC was four square again it, it's a free country after all, but somehow this heavy point of view detracted from the book. Was I reading fiction, or a sermon? Sometimes it was hard to tell.

Leaving that aside, I enjoyed the book. It seemed to me something of a throwback to his earlier works, generally regarded as some of his best. Is Ted working for us, or the other side? And who are the other side, anyway? And what about Sasha? Could he be a triple agent? Perhaps they both are. It isn't easy to tell. In the end you must decide.

The book builds to an interesting ending that can live in the memory, but I suspect it might reveal yet more of its secrets from a second reading, something I plan to do in the future. In the meantime, if you like the works of John Le Carré you will almost certainly like this one too. Superbly written as always, and whatever you say about it, it is never dull.


Some film of John le Carré


High time for some video, and here is the trailer for a newer book from the master of espionage, A Delicate Truth. The short video features the man himself.


  and here's another video of him talking about his life, both in writing and out of it.

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