What makes a novel?

Taking a break from springtime French cooking (ha!) to enjoy this interview with John le Carré, done by the BBC in 1974.

One of my favorite writers, le Carré’s real name is David Cornwell. He’s now 86 and still going strong. His third George Smiley novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, published in 1963, established his worldwide reputation. The books were based on his own experiences in Britain’s intelligence service MI6. He’s never tried to hide his real name all these years and I don’t know if he ever explained why he chose a French name. [Carré in French can mean square, straight, or outspoken. Maybe that’s a clue.]

In his 2016 autobiography he dishes on all the “greats” he’s met, including film directors, prime ministers, and just the filthy rich. His father and mother don’t fare too well. His mother abandoned him at five; his father was a con man, often in prison. Some of his father’s characteristics no doubt served le Carré well in intelligence work.

His works have translated well into film and audiobooks. Many good memories of seeing the movie, The Constant Gardener, with Ralph Fiennes, then listening to the audiobook. Set in Kenya, it is a brutal love story, and vintage le Carré.


My last book of his to read is The Night Manager, about a man working in a Swiss hotel who is not exactly as he seems– ever.

What have you been reading? Love to hear your recommendations.


Happy April!


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