Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy : Smiley

  • by John le Carré
  • Narrated by Michael Jayston
  • Series: Smiley
  • 12 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The inspiration for the major motion picture Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, starring Gary Oldman and Colin Firth.
The first novel in John le Carré's celebrated Karla trilogy, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a heart-stopping tale of international intrigue.
The man he knew as "Control" is dead, and the young Turks who forced him out now run the Circus. But George Smiley isn't quite ready for retirement - especially when a pretty, would-be defector surfaces with a shocking accusation: a Soviet mole has penetrated the highest level of British Intelligence. Relying only on his wits and a small, loyal cadre, Smiley recognizes the hand of Karla - his Moscow Centre nemesis - and sets a trap to catch the traitor.
The feature film adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) and features a cast that includes Gary Oldman as Smiley, Academy Award-winner Colin Firth (The King's Speech), and Tom Hardy (Inception).

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Le Carre remains the gold standard

I read this novel years ago, but when I saw the movie, I knew I would have to listen to the audiobook. I really liked the movie, but by the time I'd finished the audiobook, it was clear to me (once again) that movie-making is really an exercise in making compromises. As I listened to George Smiley slowling peeling back the many layers of deception, many of which the movie barely hinted at, I found myself completely drawn again into the story in that way that only a great novelist can do. As Smiley walks the cat back, the tension builds slowly but inexorably toward exposing the bane of all counterintelligence operations, the dreaded mole.

While the movie was excellent, two main characters, Percy Alleline and Toby Esterhaze, were completely miscast as simpering morons. That said, Gary Oldman and Colin Firth nailed Le Carre's main characters so completely that as the audiobook played, I did not have to imagine what George Smiley and Bill Haydon looked like. I already knew.

It's been said before, and I agree, that Le Carre is not a great spy novelist, but rather a great novelist who happens to write about spies. The reader did a superb job. His rendering of George Smiley's understated voice was spot on.
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- carl801

Deeply intriguing, well narrated espionage novel

Le Carre is the master of espionage novels, but his writing is unusual in "Tinker, Tailor"--the story is told mainly in past tense via interrogations by Smiley, though there are occasional scenes of action. But what you are reading is basically a very complex spy-vs-spy double agent scheme, laid out with exquisite logic. The revelation, however, is not a surprise, though I think it's not meant to be a surprise. We are supposed to get inside Smiley's head and literally BE him as he unravels the intrigue. What's left UNSAID is marvelous--the author trusts the reader always to be one step ahead or at least along side and leaves out the obvious.

The narration is excellent; Smiley's voice is a sort of Alec Guinness-like suavity, and other accents and voices are subtly but definitely dramatized by the narrator. One other reviewer remarks that this is not suitable for a commute and I rather agree--I found that the noise of the road plus the dense text made this easier to listen to at home. I wish that Jayston would narrate the rest of the Smiley books rather than have them dramatized as his reading is spot-on. Can't recommend it enough.
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- Bookoholics Anon

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-09-2011
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio