Silverview by John le Carré - Review

Old man on couch

A novel that is discovered by chance is enough to set a conspiracy theorist’s deely boppers wild- when the novelist being interviewed is the master of espionage himself. John le Carré was an author, who published new books once every few years, there was no reason he had reason to put down his only source of joy and income. While aware of the ramifications of a novelist exploiting their welcome – he stated that Graham Greene in the regard – his output remained consistently robust and vigorous. An occasionally heard complaint, that he wrote about in later life as something fresh and new, as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.

Aside from an inconsistent start – the opening scene should'nt really be in the novel itself – the book somewhat settles down eight pages in; mind you, we are in le Carré’s familiar world: its themes, its principals, its impeccable and exemplary plot. The protagonist- Julian Lawndsley, a young man on the run from a City career, taking over a bookshop in an East Anglian seaside town. Yes, a bookshop?!

It’s no wonder that some of le Carré’s critics came from within the intelligence community itself, and yet he remained to the end deeply rooted into that world. In this novel he still has knowledge to impart, and truths to reveal, such as the photo glimpsed on a study wall, displaying the service cricket team. There’s the familiar lament and melancholia, coming from those who have dedicated their lives to ideals that have been betrayed by one government time after time.

"Silverview”, is a reference to one of Edward’s hobbies, Nietzsche, lived in a house called Silberblick. It’s diffucult to miss the author’s affirmation to Ian Fleming, whose house was called Goldeneye. It would be an appropriate tip of the hat. Whatever claims towards literature might be made for him – claims easily justified by the best of his work – le Carré’s distinctive reputation deserves its roots in his mastery of spy fiction.

With the publication of Silverview, it is perspicuous that these virtues remained unscathed throughout. And if this final novel contains occasional passage where we might feel we’ve been here before, such moments are tempered by the sadness of knowing we’ll never be here again.



Good book! Would recommend if you are into spy related books, and even if you aren't into those books.