By John LeCarre
The Guardian ran an offer in conjunction with AudioGo slightly less than a year ago now, I think, which offered return visitors to the Gruniad’s website a code for downloading a number of LeCarre’s audiobooks, five in total, including the Smiley’s people saga.
It was so popular that AudioGo had trouble keeping up with the demand, by their own account. I was able to download them all no trouble though, and was pleased by the fact that, as the company appears to be the consumer arm of the BBC Audio department, all the files were in MP3 format. I’ve since used them for the Pilgrim ‘Afternoon Play’ series (they only have a few, but highly recommended), and they’re reasonably priced.
Anyway, the number of podcasts I listen to means I don’t always have much time left over for more audio books, but a combination of decorating, and starting to regularly cycle into work (11 miles each way, stopped over the winter but back in the saddle again now, one day a week) meant I was able to get some time for this.
When I started I thought it was a small paperback like his famous ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ that started the series, but realised at one point I’d been listening to it for a while; checked again and found 29 MP3 files varying from 30-45mins – the book is 700 pages long in paperback!
I’ve only read two of LeCarre’s works, this and ‘Tinker’, and while the first was good, this was better, partly because of the verisimilitude of the characters and the east Asia area the protagonist is in. As a colleague says, ‘its all meetings, and detail – you’ve got to pay attention!’, so it can be dry and hard going at times, but wonderfully evocative, and never lost my interest despite that – quite the feat.
The end of the book is clearly waiting for the followup (which I also have, thank you Guardian/AudioGo), as it more pauses than ends, in a very downbeat way. My audio player (the excellent MortPlayer ) automatically started the next one once I’d finished this, but I think I’ll listen to some of the HP Literary Podcast’s readings of Lovecraft’s stories in between for a break!