Book 20 – Smiley’s People

“but Enderby was an English gentleman, and while God’s rain might be falling on the rest of mankind, he was damned if it was going to fall on him.”

The wild hair book purchase of The Karla Trilogy has now come to its final fruition.  What began with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy has now ended with Smiley’s People.  Really and truly I feel like The Honorable Schoolboy didn’t have much to do with the Smiley vs Karla war.  It was more like an interlude.  Le Carre himself admitted that The Honorable Schoolboy would probably have been a stronger novel without the overreaching presence of Karla and Smiley.  I didn’t much care for Jerry Westerby as the protagonist and all I wanted was to get back to the game between Smiley and Karla.

Smiley’s People rang out the battle of wits satisfactorily.  It had a good flow, the language was exceptional and George Smiley, for all his faults, was the star.  As the story builds and George tracks down the pieces of the puzzle I was being pulled in, waiting for something to go wrong.  

Le Carre leaves clues in the latter part of the text that maybe Smiley let the fox escape the noose, that he’d been outwitted yet again.  Evil triumphs, or at least gets to flip you the bird as it gets away largely unscathed, that was the feeling I got from most of the rest of the series, but as it winds down and the two rivals come to their final resting place I can’t help but think that the times have passed them by.  That was ultimately what Le Carre said about Smiley, he’d outgrown him as he got older.  Smiley couldn’t be the character that the author wanted to write about anymore and it’s a testament to the craftsmanship of the author that he put together such a good read with a character he was mostly done with.

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