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THE NIGHT MANAGER, by John le Carré

Book review

The Night ManagerThe Night Manager by John le Carré
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I broke my own rule and saw the Amazon Prime mini-series (with Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie) before I read the book. Normally I don’t ever do that! But I’m a John le Carre neophyte, so the mini-series is what hooked me and then I decided I simply had to read the book to see the nuts and bolts of how such a fabulous storyteller actually engineered this tale. A little bit like buying a Ferrari and then deciding to get under the hood to try to understand how the creators made such an amazing thing.

I had some unexpected results! First of all, this book was written years ago, so the setting is a bit dated. That didn’t bother me, as I like reading and writing historicals. But the mini-series moved both the time period and the location of the story, so that threw me. I’m trying not to spoil the novel for people who haven’t seen the show, but the setting of the book is practically a character in the story, whereas it has been removed entirely from the show.

Second, the ending is completely different! Again, I won’t spoil it, but it’s absolutely, 100% a completely different ending, not only in fact but in sentiment, if that makes sense. The emotional journey is completely different.

Third, the two love stories play a radically different role in the novel. They are bigger, more important, but also a little bit less believable. The main character is hugely impacted by these relationships–they almost become a voice in his head–whereas in the mini-series, there is much less influence on the decisions he makes. And the female characters are completely different.

I found a lot of the book difficult to follow, and I think it may have been because I don’t normally read spy thrillers. I don’t mean that it was poorly written–yikes. It was BEAUTIFULLY written. But it is not a light read, and even some of the Britishisms were hard for me to follow.

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely, but the above is a fair warning–this is not a pot-boiler of a suspense novel. It’s long, dense, and it’s not the series. I enjoyed both, and I’ve bought two more le Carre novels that I can’t wait to get into!

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