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Old 02-23-2019, 09:37 AM   #91
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I don't have to like the characters but they have to support the illusion of reality; I have to believe they're real while I'm reading. Even in a fantasy context the characters must seem real in their context. But in this book none of these main characters were real to me, so come the end I didn't really care much what happened to any of them. The supporting cast did better mostly because I could fill in the blanks from a selections of movies where I'd seen the cast before. The problem was I was bored with this movie and so had far too much time to look around at the shaky sets and wet paint.

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Old 02-23-2019, 09:51 AM   #92
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I think you listened to the book, as did Catlady, and I suspect the complexities of the plot would be made harder by that, rather than having a book where you could flip back if necessary.
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No, I read it. The audible version was read by the author, and that's rarely a good thing. Plus I've had enough experience with le Carre's writing to know it can be a bit hard to follow, so eBook seemed like the right thing for the first pass. If I'd enjoyed it, the plan was to do a second pass with the Audible book, but I obviously never got that far.
As far as I'm concerned, it's up to the novelist to make things clear enough that one shouldn't have to be flipping pages back and forth, shouldn't have to refer to text when listening to the audiobook, to follow a story. This wasn't a textbook, after all.

The reading itself was fine. Le Carre didn't do a lot of differentiation of voices, but he read in a straightforward manner that seemed to fit the text. My issue with following the story wasn't that I didn't know who was speaking, but that I didn't have a sense of who those people were in context and how they fit together.

Something as simple as datelines indicating shifts in the timeline would have helped enormously.

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I think series always eventually go downhill; the ideas get played out, the characters get stale, the continued action gets increasingly absurd. I think standalones have more life to them, as in this case.

I don't have to like characters; that's a matter of indifference to me. I want them to be interesting and consistent. That's enough.
What I like in standalones is that there's the possibility of the protagonist(s) being killed off; once something's a series, that's removed, with a subsequent lessening of the danger and tension.

I don't have to like characters either, but I need to relate to them on some level. I didn't in this book.
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Old 02-23-2019, 06:35 PM   #93
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Also, frankly, it was rather too close to reality. Yes, I get it -- this was very autobiographical. But in this day and age, that's not really what I want out of a book.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I found none of the main characters appealing. That's really a non-starter for me. If I'm reading historical fact or fiction, there don't have to be characters I like -- there are just characters/people who are what they are. But if I'm reading fiction, I have to like at least SOMEONE in the book, or I give up.
I usually do too. My normal reading (non-bookclub) is character driven, or has good world building. I read for pleasure and usually pass on books that are too much like going to work, or watching CNN (background was in mental health / social services). I usually choose sci-fi, fantasy, period writing, or older mysteries.

I found the book eye-opening - that’s probably why it held my interest. I wasn’t aware of the scale of the private military industry. Or how connected British public servants would be with Egyptian military, before all hell broke loose there. Le Carré also helped explain some of the political tensions in Britain and the States. It was a depressing and stark portrayal, so it was a relief when some of the characters showed courage, and believed the general public would care if they knew.

So though I wouldn’t have read the book on my own - it broadened my perspective. But I do hope we pick some books that are a pleasure to read / aren’t so bleak and joyless.

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Old 02-23-2019, 08:51 PM   #94
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One of my favorite genres is espionage thrillers. I liked this book and found it entertaining. I hated the abrupt end. I also thought it was too heavy-handed and polemic. I think that he has made this book shout his own personal view too much.

I can understand why Charlie would not like this one as much as previous books. I prefer the Smiley books too. The moralizing here is front-and-center. The typical action scenes that one might find in this genre take place behind the scenes. This book is so much about the moral dilemma that once Toby makes his decision to be a whistle-blower the book simply ends and you don’t know his fate.

Another interesting observation about this book is that I think it’s his first novel that is Brit versus Brit. The bad guy in this case is the government. It’s not the past model of the British government is the good guy fighting outside ideologies as the bad guy like west versus east. I think he is disgusted with the US and UK governments and in his opinion the greed of capitalism left behind by the modern, post-Cold War world and wanted to make that clear.

I thought this interview was interesting. “There is anger [in the book], there is frustration, and there is impatience, particularly with the Brits,” he said.
https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-22452335
A bit belatedly, because I have only just found the time to read the article, thanks very much for this, Bookworm_Girl - I found it interesting.

An interesting thought about its being about Brit versus Brit.
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Old 02-23-2019, 09:09 PM   #95
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I'm sure we shall come up with some more light-hearted books for you in due course, Victoria.

I certainly find it's one of the really enjoyable things about the Club, that it gets me reading books that I wouldn't read otherwise. Having said that, le Carré is someone whose books I do read, for the very reasons you listed. I like his need to expose the murkier things which go on, supposedly in our name. And I think he is a good writer who keeps my attention.
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Old 02-23-2019, 09:46 PM   #96
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There were a few issues with the novel, but I was glad to have read it, and that the writer was doing something other than the usual spy vs spy Cold War story. I think it asks some questions that need to be asked.
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Old 02-24-2019, 04:15 PM   #97
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I'm sure we shall come up with some more light-hearted books for you in due course, Victoria.

I certainly find it's one of the really enjoyable things about the Club, that it gets me reading books that I wouldn't read otherwise. Having said that, le Carré is someone whose books I do read, for the very reasons you listed. I like his need to expose the murkier things which go on, supposedly in our name. And I think he is a good writer who keeps my attention.
I look forward to the Club stretching my reading habits. There were several interesting suggestions in the nomination thread, which is great as no-one in my non-digital circle seems to read anymore. Did any of Le Carre’s earlier books particularly stand out for you?
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Old 02-24-2019, 04:28 PM   #98
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I haven’t read them all, but I thought Absolute Friends was very good, and also The Tailor of Panama and The Constant Gardener. He’s someone I read every now and then, as I come across another of his books.
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Old 02-25-2019, 07:48 AM   #99
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I look forward to the Club stretching my reading habits. There were several interesting suggestions in the nomination thread, which is great as no-one in my non-digital circle seems to read anymore. Did any of Le Carre’s earlier books particularly stand out for you?
I haven't read a lot of him, but my favorite would have to be the classic The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. I'll go against public opinion here and say that I found the Smiley books a little on the turgid side, so I was quite pleased at how zippy and entertaining I found Delicate Truth.
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Old 02-25-2019, 09:55 AM   #100
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I haven’t read them all, but I thought Absolute Friends was very good, and also The Tailor of Panama and The Constant Gardener. He’s someone I read every now and then, as I come across another of his books.
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I haven't read a lot of him, but my favorite would have to be the classic The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. I'll go against public opinion here and say that I found the Smiley books a little on the turgid side, so I was quite pleased at how zippy and entertaining I found Delicate Truth.
Great! Thank you both for the recommendations!
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Old 02-25-2019, 11:53 AM   #101
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I'd agree with the classic The Spy Who Came in from the Cold as my favourite of the Smiley books, but I liked pretty much all of them. Though I admit, it's been a few years since I read any of them, so that opinion might be different now.
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Old 02-26-2019, 04:22 PM   #102
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I'd agree with the classic The Spy Who Came in from the Cold as my favourite of the Smiley books, but I liked pretty much all of them. Though I admit, it's been a few years since I read any of them, so that opinion might be different now.
I’ve been reading reviews of Le Carré on Amazon - his Smiley books seem to have the highest rating.
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Old 02-28-2019, 05:24 PM   #103
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Thanks!; Apologies; & Help?

Hi everyone

I don’t know which end to start with Today, I’ve been clicking Mobileread screen controls randomly and arrived at a screen which showed that several of you gave me reputation points, welcomed me to the bookclub, and / or offered best wishes about my neice who’s been very ill. Thank you very much!!

(She had surgery, contracted an infection from the surgery, and had to have 2 more surgeries to clean up the infection. It’s been a frightening month, but she’s finally doing much better, and all will be good. Thank you for your best wishes!).

I’m sorry I haven’t responded to your very thoughtful messages - which must have seemed quite rude. I didn’t know you’d sent them. Though I know how to give karma, it’s the first time I’ve ever been to a screen that shows I’ve received some. I don’t know how to go back to the screen, to answer you individually.

Truthfully, though embarrassing to admit, I’m extremely limited by my understanding of how to use the Mobileread controls. It’s the reason I haven’t joined the bookclub, though I’ve wanted to for years. For example, if the homescreen banner says I have an ‘unread private message’, and I click it, it shows me the message. I’ve leaned to answer immediately, because when I go back, the message is gone.

Over the years, I’ve searched the forum, read the faqs, help, and wiki, etc. on how to navigate. I find lots of information on ebooks, but I can’t seem to find anything on the basic controls. Have I overlooked something?

I’m an independent cuss, and I want to take responsibility for my own education, but I just can’t figure out how Does this darn softwear have a name, so I can buy a book and learn it? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. And again, I’m sorry I didn’t respond to your thoughtful, welcoming messages.

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Old 02-28-2019, 06:09 PM   #104
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I'll grab the lowest hanging fruit and say that you see your karma if you click on "User CP" just under where it says MobileRead near the top left of the page. That Control Panel page will also let you access tons of settings and controls.
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Old 02-28-2019, 07:55 PM   #105
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As issybird points out, the User Control Panel is a very useful place. It's always my starting point for a MobileRead session. It shows me any of my subscribed threads that have new messages in them, along with when the most recent message was posted to any subscribed fora. And, of course, you can see if anyone left you Karma.

ETA: You have a PM.

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