Sunday, October 27, 2013

constant gardener

You may remember The Constant Gardener as a film from 2005 with Ralph Fiennes. I don't, I never saw it. The movie did pretty well I guess, and I would bet that its because a 2 hour film can eliminate a lot of the slowness in this story and ratchet up the tension. That would have helped this story immensely. I also can imagine some reorganization of the timeline to give us some idea of what is actually going on. After 100 pages I had no idea what kind of story I was reading, after 200 pages I had a good idea what kind of story this is, but I don't understand what's going on, that really happens in the last hundred pages.*

I've read a few of John le Carré's books over the years, but I ending reading the ones I find at book sales and yard sales, so I guess I'm not getting to the great ones, the ones that people keep on the bookshelves to re-read. That, unfortunately, may be a problem with most of the books I read, and most (but not all) of them come from sources like that. I enjoyed the last le Carré book I read though.

The Constant Gardener follows the story of Justin Quayle and his beautiful, young wife Tessa in their temporary home in Nairobi, Kenya. Justin is with the British Foreign Service and his wife keeps herself busy doing what she can to help the local people, which means getting down in the trenches and looking into places that most foreign visitors don't bother to see. Husband Justin however, keeps his nose dutifully out of his wife's affairs, his head in the clouds, and his hands busy in his garden.

That is, until Justin is rudely awakened to just how serious some of the problems in Africa are, and has to set out against his very nature, to follow the same evidence his wife has. I don't think this is a spoiler, but it may help you to understand what you're reading in the beginning, is that spoilerish? Is it moot to ask about spoilerisms post spoilage?

le Carré has woven a pretty intricate web in this story, and many of the subjects and discoveries are pretty powerful, I think the problem in this one is the web was woven to loosely. I wonder again how the movie is.

* the hardcover is 492 pages.

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