“The Little Drummer Girl” by John le Carré – abandoned at 33%

“The Little Drummer Girl” is the third book that I’ve abandoned in my “20 for 20 Reading Challenge” to read twenty books that are more than twenty hours long.

I’ve really enjoyed the Le Carré books that I’ve read so far, all of which post-date “The Little Drummer Girl”. This book didn’t work for me. I listened to the first six and a half hours of the book and found myself increasingly reluctant to return to it, so I’ve pressed the life’s-too-short button and abandoned it,

The book is well written and well-narrated. It has some very powerful scenes in it. The characters are well-drawn and the places are well-described. My problem started with the pace, which is slow and evolved into the characters, none of whom I care about.

After six and a half hours we’ve finally reached the point where our young British actress has been successfully recruited to work with the Israelis to help them (somehow) take down a Palestinian terrorist cell. I know every detail of the process used to recruit her and it seems to me to be as credible as it is frightening. Reading it was like watching a craftsman build a brick wall with a complex pattern embedded in it or watching a wrangler tame a wild horse. It’s fascinating in its own way but you have to care about the craftsman or the horse. I found I didn’t care for either.

So I’ll never know what Charlie’s mission was or whether she succeeded in it or how many people died along the way. I’m OK with that.

I’ll be back for other Le Carré books but I’m saying good-bye to this one.

2 thoughts on ““The Little Drummer Girl” by John le Carré – abandoned at 33%

  1. Pity,because this a very good and also very frightening story. I remember when I read it (early twenties)it was an eye opener. This little idiot could not(and sill does not )grasp how vile ,warped ,twisted and totally sick humans are.


    • I think the moral ambiguity is beautifully done. The process of enrollment is scarily plausible. I can imagine that this goes nowhere nice. It’s not a good guys vs bad guys kind of thing. It’s ruthless throughout.

      Liked by 1 person

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