Benjamin Eskola



One advantage of the weather being rubbish (and, admittedly, of me being lazy) is that I have plenty of time to read on the train: thirty or forty minutes in each direction, although it tends to be interrupted by changing trains and so on. So, this year I’m aiming to work through some of the books I’ve been meaning to read for a while; an ebook reader makes that rather convenient. —

I started off by reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, after seeing the new film (I’d already seen the earlier Swedish film). I’d have to say that in some ways it’s better than the films; I quite enjoyed the slight tangential subplots every so often, which wouldn’t really have translated well to film and so were replaced. I did find his habit of adding irrelevant technical details quite annoying. I don’t care about the specifications of the protagonist’s iBook; I’m not even sure I care that it’s an iBook unless it’s relevant to the plot or the character.

After that I read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, once again after seeing the film. Although I did love the film, again I have to say I preferred the book. In the film, it was at times hard to follow the subterfuge, and particularly the reasoning that lead the protagonist to uncover it. Perhaps it’s just because I’d already seen the film, but I didn’t have any such issue with the book. On the other hand, Le Carré has a nice way of not spelling out the conclusions; when the protagonist receives information, which obviously relates back to an earlier event, the reader can work out this connection without the author having to add “it were the butler what done it!”.

There were noticable differences between the book and the film, mostly in terms of the order in which events were explained (the film, for example, starts with an operation that goes badly wrong, whereas in the book the details of this are kept secret and only uncovered later). There were also additional scenes of a Christmas party at MI6, apparently as a device to establish the relationships between some of the characters. Either way, both were thoroughly enjoyable.

After that, I decided to go for some more le Carré: The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. Another enjoyable read, though it felt somewhat lighter than Tinker Tailor (at least, I finished it in half the time; a disadvantage of the Kindle is that it’s hard to judge how long a book is in absolute terms). Interesting perspectives on the Cold War and early-Sixties Berlin, and multiple layers of plotting and secrecy. It was quite fun during the last few chapters, when everything was going wrong, to try to work out why it was going wrong (I think I got it about half a page before the reveal). My only complaint is that the ending is a little abrupt.

So far I’ve been averaging a book every two weeks; I want to see if I can improve that average by the end of the year.