This was one of my favorite movies from two years ago. I was drawn to it because of the cast, which included Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, William Hurt and Gary Oldman in the lead role. Honestly, they would have had me with just Gary Oldman in the lead role. I liked the movie a lot and so when I found out it was a book I immediately got it off Amazon.
Then I waited a year and a half to read it.
In my defense, I was reading Game of Thrones for awhile. The book I actually got is the Karla Trilogy of George Smiley novels which starts with Tinker Tailor. I may read a few more le Carre novels this year, as I’d known him by reputation a long time ago, someone gave me a copy of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and said it was the best spy book ever written. I don’t read many spy novels, but the opinions I have read on the matter generally agree with the assessment.
A thing that kept me from jumping into Tinker is also that I knew the twist, the question of the movie is “Who is the mole?” and I knew the answer. Now, movies do take license, and this one did, but the twist remained the same. It was actually refreshing that, though the book and movie went to the same place, the paths which they followed there really was very different, this kept things interesting while reading.
Thankfully, even if the movie had been a 100% faithful adaptation, I would have had the benefit of le Carre’s very enjoyable writing to get me through. He renders George Smiley such a sad genius, a man whose failed at marriage and even his career, but he is still called in and tries to sort things out for people who he owes nothing to. The simple reason is boredom, self preservation, he is at home alone and needs something to take his mind off being left with only the things he formerly used to take his mind off his work. He is self conscious, a scene towards the end of the books sums him up: He was an overweight spy in bare feet trying to figure out which way the lever needed to be turned to turn the safety off on his gun.