Honourable Schoolboy (Coronet Books) Paperback – May 5 1994
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is also very much of its period. Do we really remember how DEPRESSING the early 1970's were? Once-treasured institutions were falling about our ears. And poor George Smiley is now at the head of one of them: the thoroughly disgraced British Secret Service. Captain of a sinking ship, as one of the characters says. His efforts to salvage some dignity for the organization are fascinating to observe: a display of sheer brain power.
It's typical LeCarre: extraordinarily developed characters, dense plot, intellectual rigor, vivid settings - and no one writing today strings words together so deliciously.
The Honourable Schoolboy contains a cast of fascinating characters. Smiley himself is the classic anti James Bond. He is middle-aged, plump and bespectacled. Unlike Bond he is not a ladies' man. In fact, his wife is serially unfaithful to him. In Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy his wife's infidelities were used by Karla to undermine him. Smiley has sacrificed whatever he had of a marriage to remove his vulnerability. Westerby is a stark contrast to Smiley; tall, athletic and a womanizer. In contrast to Smiley he lets his own torn emotions affect the way he does his work. There are also large assortments of supporting characters who are naive or scheming. It also features two of the most vicious characters ever employed in novels; Fawn and Tiu. Le Carre rarely showing any of their direct handiwork accentuates their viciousness.Read more ›
If that sounds like it has the makings for an involved and intricate espionage thriller then that's only part of the story. It's not the plots or the politics that are the gems in Le Carre novels - it's the characters. Character development is his forte'. No character is as well developed or more complex than the awkward and unlikely superspy George Smiley. On the other hand no character is as simple to get a grip on as the central character - Jerry Westerby, whose case name - "The Honourable Schoolboy" defines and contains him perfectly.
Smiley as head of the Service sends Westerby east to Hong Kong following the trail left by Haydon. The target - two Chinese brothers supposedly in the employ of his arch nemesis 'Karla'. Along the way Le Carre lets us peek at ex-colonial life in East Asia and he misses no opportunity to tweak the nose of the serious British Civil Service.
Most recent customer reviews
The novel has gained poignancy since China regained sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997. Instead of being outdated, what Hong Kong has become has added a layer of meaning to the... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Moss
JOHN LeCARRE is not just a spy-story narrator, he is a GREAT writer! His prose is tight, imaginative and beautiful. His imagery is majestic. Read morePublished on June 8 2011 by Ursula Hovey
As an addict of Le Carre, the Honourable Schoolboy is my favourite of his stories.
The intricate plotting of the chase, the utterly realistic and flawed geniuses that make up... Read more
The Honourable Schoolboy is superb. Forget the "spy" genre it's categorized against. Ignore the (for me anyway) vapid liner notes about the "thrills and terror" of spys and their... Read morePublished on Feb. 14 2002 by Bradford Carder
"The Honourable Schoolboy" is my first John Le Carre novel. It immediately brought to mind Graham Greene's, "The Quiet American" and the British miniseries, 'The Sandbaggers', by... Read morePublished on Oct. 28 2001 by Richard Cunningham
I HAD READ THIS ALOST EXACTLY 20 YEARS AGO AND RATED IT WELL, TODAY I CAN'T SEE WHAT I SAW OR WHAT ALL THE 5 STARS ARE ABOUT, THE END IS A CONFUSED MESS. Read morePublished on Sept. 14 2001 by DAVID N BLODGETT
Of all of Le Carre's books, this is by far my favorite. Like his others it dishes up his fascinating circus of characters and conversation. Read morePublished on Nov. 2 2000 by Earl Kulp