9780316000642 / 0316000647

Absolute Friends


Publisher:Little, Brown and Company



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About the book:

John le Carré's Absolute Friends is his best in years, capturing the verve and mastery of the magnificent early work. In fact, as a prelude to the book, you could do worse than reread The Spy Who Came in from the Cold again, and be forcibly reminded how le Carré transformed the spy thriller 40 or so years ago. And the consolidation of his achievement came with the George Smiley sequence (inaugurated with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy). As the Cold War came to an end, le Carré seemed to be in need of a new focus for his literary universe, but this was soon to come as the author explored newer social threats, with The Constant Gardener utilising the power of the pharmaceutical companies as nemesis, and producing yet another critical and popular success.

Absolute Friends, even before publication, had some of the best word of mouth any le Carré novel had enjoyed, and every word of it was justified. As a penetrating character study, it's nonpareil, with the (very different) friends of the title brilliantly realised.

Ted Mundy is the son of a British Infantry officer who left India under a cloud after partition, while Sasha is the crippled son of a religious German family who became a star of Far Left politics in the 1960s, at which point he encounters the ungainly Ted, taught by his father--and a committed girlfriend--to loathe British imperialism and all its current offshoots. In the present, Ted finds himself acting as an eccentric tour guide at Ludwig's palaces in Bavaria. When the two men meet again, they once more become involved in clandestine activities--with lethal results. If the author's own anti-Blair/Bush feelings are sometimes foregrounded, this is still le Carré at his considerable best, and a reminder of what a great talent the UK has in this writer. --Barry Forshaw

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