Well, I’ve finished it. And I seem to have devised a new insult: “He deserves to be a character in a John le Carre novel”. Yes, the characters in The Night Manager really are that bad.
Strangely, despite what I said in my previous post, Major Corkoran does have some redeeming features after all, he’s simply a caricature. As is everyone else, when it comes to it, the only exceptions really being Burr and perhaps Pine, who is a cypher more than anything. The happy ending I wasn’t expecting didn’t happen in an even more unexpected way (sorry if this sounds convoluted, but I’m trying not to spoil it for anyone) and it is all horribly, horribly plausible.
The best thing about the novel by far is the quality of the writing. The prose is absolutely gorgeous; brutal where it needs to be, lyrical where it gets away with it, and utterly exquisite throughout. It’s easily the best written book I’ve read in a VERY long time. I can’t praise the quality enough, and it’s lovely that even so late in his career, le Carre is capable of such beautiful writing.
Happily, my copy of the novel has now found a new home with someone keen to read it. I’m not sure I would recommend it outside of fans of the genre; it’s not really got a lot else going for it and the plot can be quite “blokey”; the women, such as there are, do not get a very good showing at all. But it’s a good read, educational and darkly cynical about the realpolitik of business, even when that business is illicit arms trading. Fascinating stuff, but don’t expect a happy ending.