Wait, you didn’t think I’d read this novel for any reason other than these two dudes, right? LOL.
The Night Manager
Written by John le Carré; Published 1991
This is not the first book by John le Carré I’ve read because of one or more delightfully British actors starring in an adaptation. The love I carry for Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, and Mark Strong lead me to (try to) read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy before I saw the film. I hated the book but I liked the adaptation well enough. My reaction to the source material and adaptation of The Night Manager is along the same lines. What follows is a review of the book, but since I’m really enjoying the BBC production I may write
more favorably about it.
I went into The Night Manager with exceptionally little hope. To be fair I will say that over the years le Carré’s style has got marginally less annoying. I believe I was on page twenty-one before the novel lost credibility with me.
It happened when Pine, Roper, and Jed were in the elevator. Pine was—understandably, of course—in a wild jumble over meeting the man whom he knew was an international arms dealer and indirectly responsible for the death of Sophie, (probably, maybe, kinda?) the love of his life. But Pine’s biggest issue wasn’t Roper, it was Jed. She was distracting him, with her beauty and her outfit. Very irresponsible and malicious of her. He thinks to himself, “How dare she be so beautiful at a time like this?”
Oh for Christ’s sake.
The vast empty ocean between le Carré and I is, I think, that his books are simply not meant for me. I am a young-ish, idealistic, over-educated, underpaid, American feminist. I can feel his delicate shudder from here.
Because his books are for Men, you see, and more than that, for English Men. Which is why all of his male characters, despite whatever complexities and intricacies they may have, fall into one of three categories: the Bad Man, the Once-Hopeful-But-Now-Jaded Man, or the Main Character/Hero. The work of the novel is to determine whether the Hero is going to turn into either the Jaded Man or the Bad Man.
I’m afraid the women have an even worse set of options. They are either The Woman (reference intentional), who is set on a hopelessly high pedestal and casts her unattainable shadow over every movement in the Hero’s life. Or they are Not the Woman, in which case they can expect to be stupid, invisible, vulgar in the Austenian sense, cheap, unattractive, dispensable, and valuable only in the ways they remind the Hero of The Woman. Yikes.
In The Night Manager Jonathan Pine is the Hero, Roper is the Bad Man, the lovely and dead Sophie is The Woman, Jed holds an especially high rank among the Not the Woman women, and Burr (who is a man in the book) is the Jaded Man. I read through the first hundred pages, mostly so that I’d have an idea of what had been changed when I watched the series. After that I had to give up. The (male) characters were interesting, but the women and the impenetrable pretense of it all was just too much. I shall put on my tweed, pour a Scotch, and contemplate the bleak hopelessness of civilization. Or I’ll just read Outlander, like the Not the Woman I am.
Final Verdict: Watch the miniseries. It’s quite good, and it’s got Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie.