I got this as a free download from The Guardian when they did a Books Season, at the same time that the film of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was coming out in the cinema. I had heard the BBC’s radio adaptation and thought it was very well done, so I was up for reading (listening to) my first full John Le Carré book. Not a bad place to start, I suppose.
The reading style of the narrator is very dry , measured and deliberate. At first this is a little off-putting, but you soon realise that this complements the sparse, curt sentences of the text. This is good, as I think I would have read the book too quickly, and not given the text the correct “tone” in my head. This is the advantage of being read the story.
The book rightfully deserves all the praise it gets. Not a word is wasted.
• Rereading: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré (to be read once you have finished the book, as there are potential spoilers…)
I’d never heard of this until my wife added it to our LoveFilm list. It was very good indeed.
It’s for grown-ups, with some nice black humour – appeals to the True Blood fan in me. Some good twists, and at six episodes it can be watched in an evening. Kudos to the BBC for making this – my licence fee payment will be good for another year…
Charisma, chemistry and increasing desperation.
Robberies, gunfights and the final blaze of glory.
Funeral in Berlin is the second in the series of books by Len Deighton to feature a nameless spy, the first book being the Ipcress File. In film adaptations the character is called Harry Palmer and played by Michael Caine. I am not a particular fan of either the Ipress File book or film. I read Funeral in Berlin a long time ago and although I liked the dialogue and the 1960s vibe, I found the plot too confusing.
So I thought the film may clear up some of the story details that did not click the first time round…
Michael Caine is very good as the main character, showing a nonchalant cool and an eye for self preservation – an everyman’s James Bond. Seeing Berlin as it was at the time is fantastic. The music is great (surprisingly available on Spotify), in your face at the beginning and then put to one side in favour of silence at some key scenes.
But… although the plot is easier to follow in the film than in the book, the problem is that there is just too much of it. The funeral of the title is just one element amongst so much other stuff.
There is a lot to like here – but don’t expect to come out of the film with all your questions answered. And that’s what is so damn frustrating about the whole thing…
This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for years now, and I’ve finally found the time to sit down and read a (real / proper / non-electronic) fiction book. The Kindle has felt rather lonely of late, but I must say that it has been great to relax into a story again, holding paper pages.
This is well written and does require your full attention to keep track of all the murky dealings and altered allegiances. Sometimes I felt that the plot became a bit over the top, but later you find it is all fundamental to the story. I did find myself drawn into the dialogue and found pages would fly by, so overall this is a recommended read. You could do a lot worse, and I would read another by the same author – Brandenburg stands out.
PS: features the best line I have read in a long time:
“All of them good people, bubbling with brave initiatives, yet each in varying degrees mistaking furious animation for achievement.” (p23)