A Delicate Truth - John le Carré

I had to have at least one Le Carré in my Summer of Spies reading. I picked this one because Le Carré is narrating it himself.

 

The start of the story is slow but satisfying, establishing the point of view of a mature senior Civil Servant in the FCO, pulled in over his head by an ambitious Minister, to oversee a covert operation in Gibraltar.

 

As I watched the stolidly upper-middle class civil servant, son of a general, married to money, well-educated but only moderately accomplished, thrill, in an appropriately low-key it-wouldn't-be-good-form-to-express-my-feelings kind of way, to the opportunity to serve his country, even if that meant obeying a bullying, egocentric, self-serving Minister, I understood that Le Carré's England is not mine.

 

I recognise that it's real enough. It's the kind of England the odious Boris Johnson and the surprisingly dangerous Jacob Rees-Mogg want to drag us all back into so that they can live the Eton dream while the rest of us touch our forelocks and hope to keep our jobs.

 

Le Carré describes the people of this world with great precision and insight without ever once straying into empathy. I admire that.

 

As a novel, if's very satisfying so far. As a reminder of part of English society that is bullying its way to the front, it's a strong incentive to deny anyone who graduates from Eton or Harrow the opportunity to hold public office.