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Monaghan, David.

London (Eng.), Orbis, c1986. 207pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-85613-916-5. Distributed by Collins.

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Ted Monkhouse

Volume 15 Number 3
1987 May

David Monaghan, professor of English at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, presents us with his second book on le Carre. His definitive work. The Novels of John le Carre: The An of Survival (Blackwell, 1985), is an excellent precursor to this guide, which stands on its own.

It is not unreasonable to assume that le Carre will come to be recognized as a leading fictional writer in the spy genre. Le Carre will undoubtedly be read for decades and Smiley may endure as does Sherlock Holmes. As such, Smiley's Circus serves as a valuable aid to serious study, as well as being helpful for a le Carre buff. The book, after a suitable introduction to the "Circus" novels, gives a chronological breakdown of the various major operations in each. This in itself is valuable, as every le Carre reader knows when trying to unravel Call for the Dead, The Honourable Schoolboy, The Looking Glass War, A Murder of Quality, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, Smiley's People and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Then follows "Who's Who, Biographies of People, Places and Particularities in the Secret World of John le Carre," a veritable mine of information, including the jargon we have all learned and used in our discussions of any spy novel. Tucked in amongst this 142 page dictionary are photos of places mentioned in the novels, giving them a reality despite the fiction. Some maps are also included.

An appendix, "Notes on the 'Circus' Series of Novels," and then an "Index to the Circus Chapter" rounds out this handy book. Having been an avid le Carre reader, I was finally able to unscramble some of the details hither to unclear in my mind. For the uninitiated, this book will prompt an immediate spate of reading.

All libraries stock the novels and cannot now do without this guide. As an author worthy of study, this guide to le Carre's works will help the student. For rainy day readers, this book is a lot of fun, and enlightening. For a peek at what to expect before reading one of the novels—it intrigues. Highly recommended.

Ted Monkhouse, Wellington County Board of Education, Guelph, Ont.
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