It’s his most famous novel but I just didn’t dig it. Too barren, too cold, too confusing. So I let his other novel The Secret Pilgrim gather dust on my shelf.
I’m glad I returned to le Carre because I loved The Secret Pilgrim. The Cold War has ended and a spy named Ned narrates what becomes of the British spy service. The Secret Pilgrim is actually a series of short stories about the agents that have fallen over the years — either turned traitor, had their cover blown or just plain gone missing.
Confession: I finally read this because I became hopelessly addicted to watching Homeland. This article sums up what it’s like to be a fan of this show. It’s a tad obsessive but it makes you want to read and watch anything and everything about spies. But I assure you, The Secret Pilgrim is not just about spies.
Loyalty is a fickle sport and you get to witness the mental anguish behind betrayal. We’re reminded that when it comes to war (and love, for that matter), there is no real clear divide between the good guys and the bad ones. And when you’re constantly caught between the two, it’s entirely possible to find yourself fighting on the losing side.
Le Carre also makes a political statement at the end of the book. I don’t want to give too much away but it’s a statement that’s very relevant today despite being written in 1990. Different war, same problems.
What’s the best spy novel you’ve read? And how anxious are you getting for the next season of Homeland?