Pondering Tinker Tailor


I’m counting down the days until the Australian release of the film adaptation of John Le Carre’s  Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, one of my favourite novels.

‘Tinker Tailor‘ (for the uninitiated) is a spy novel that follows the tracking down and unmasking of ‘Gerald the mole’, a double agent in the British secret service. Le Carre is a master of characterisation and Tinker Tailor is filled with captivating people and their stories: George Smiley, Jim Prideaux, Peter Guillam, Ricki Tarr, Connie Sachs, Bill Hayden, Toby Esterhase, and Jerry Westerby – to name a few. Le Carre has the knack of telling us much about each, through the careful selection of details. His narrative is rich with sensory information that enables us to live the events along with his characters, without being obtrusive.

George Smiley is a remarkable creation, the antithesis of the traditional spy hero. He is dull, rather than dashing; more chameleon than charismatic; not fit, but flabby; the jilted husband, not the gigolo lover. Smiley is so deeply drawn by Le Carre that he is real and, like real people, too complex to analyse with certainty. As a woman, I can understand how his wife, the delicious Ann, could love him profoundly in theory, but not in practice. He is certainly a character I love and return to for comfort.

The 1979 BBC Television adaptation of Tinker Tailor remains one of my favourite television series.

I’ll admit I was slightly nervous when a new film adaptation was announced, mainly because there have been a number of disappointing adaptations of great works in recent years (Dorian Gray, Pride & Prejudice), but Le Carre gives the latest film his seal of approval so I’m quietly excited.

Ohh….. and Le Carre is a Wodehouse fan as well.



5 thoughts on “Pondering Tinker Tailor

    1. I would recommend ‘A Murder of Quality’ or ‘Call for the Dead’ as a good starting point to Le Carre. He’s my favourite living writer, with Terry Pratchett a close second. Completely different, but both superb.


  1. Yes, I would have thought it would be practically impossible to improve on Alec Guiness.

    I have struggled with Le Carre, finding him labyrinthine, though I really enjoyed ‘The Constant Gardener’. My mother is a huge fan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I liked the early Le Carre but I’ve not kept up with his stuff. For me, he is one of the few descriptive writers I enjoy. His descriptions feel like a spy surveying his surroundings, looking for information in the smallest details and making judgements in a short amount of time. His early characters,the ones I’m familiar with, tug the heartstrings too.

      Liked by 1 person

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