The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carre

The Honourable Schoolboy cover

I was pleased when I realised that I could read The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carre for The 1977 Club as we have all of his books in the overflow bookcases in the garage. Jack read them at that time. But I have only read A Small Town in Germany by le Carre previously. I was even happier when it dawned on me that this book won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, I have a bit of a personal project going on to read as many as those prize winners as I can get a hold of.

I loved this book although for me it was essential that I had the time to read it over quite a short period of time, it’s not a 30 pages at bedtime before you fall asleep sort of book. Also as I was reading it 41 years after it was published it has a distinct feeling of nostalgia and historical fiction now.

It begins with the British secret service (the Circus) being under a cloud as far as the American ‘Cousins’ are concerned as Bill Haydon has not long been unmasked by George Smiley as a spy for Russia, recruited when he was a student at Oxford 30 years previously. Haydon had so much influence he had been able to have good members of staff pensioned off or elbowed out, leaving a very much weakened Circus. George Smiley is in charge of putting together a team to investigate money laundering in Hong Kong which was still a British Crown Colony at that time. He manages to bring back some of those that Haydon had ousted. The investigations lead from Hong Kong to Cambodia and Thailand and drug smuggling comes into it too.

That’s all I’m going to say about the story, it’s quite convoluted as you would expect of a spy story, but I really enjoyed this one and the fact that I haven’t read any of the other Smiley books which were written before this one wasn’t a problem at all, although I had watched them on TV years ago. I must say that I think Alec Guinness was the perfect Smiley.

1977 Club

Some previous 1977 books that I’ve read are:

The Madonna of the Astrolabe by J.I.M. Stewart

A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor

I,Claudius by Robert Graves

7 thoughts on “The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carre

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with you about Sir Alec. Perfectly perfect for Smiley. An incomparable actor, wasn’t he? Just the finest.
    And that’s wonderful to tackle An Honourable Schoolboy. I am determined to read A Small Town in Germany and I have the book on my shelves. Just need to get to it after my Russian fix. Which will be a very long fix, as it’s going right now. It’s still madly snowing.

    • Judith,
      I think you’ll enjoy le Carre’s writing. I wonder if even you are getting tired of all that snow now! Mind you if the alternative is wildly hot temperatures even I might choose snow.

      • We had a friend visit who lives an hour to the south of us. He couldn’t believe the snow we still have, but today it really started melting. I think we’re on the upturn now.
        It snowed like crazy on Thursday and Friday, although it didn’t amount to much, but I find I like the snow falling very much but not the end result, at this point in the season. We had a sunny day for the first time in more than 2 weeks!
        I have no idea when our daffodils will make an appearance. I think everything will start to bloom all at once, very fast.
        But I totally agree with you that I don’t want a super-hot summer, which is, of course, totally possible.
        Will look forward to hearing what you’re reading next.

        • Judith,
          I hate that slushy stage which usually comes so quickly after a snowfall here. The snowdrops here bloomed for over two months as the snow coming and going for weeks stopped them from wilting, and they recovered very quickly from being snow flattened. It’s definitely not normal to have snowdrops out at the same time as daffodils and cherry blossom.

  2. Pingback: The 1977 Club starts today! – Stuck in a Book

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