It has been some time since I wrote about books I am reading, recently during our seaside vacation we went to a second hand bookstore in Summerside on Water street called Seaside bookstore and the owner is Nancy. A very nice place and a good selection of books.
We bought several books and I discovered one not so well known book by John LeCarré, entitled A small town in Germany. The book was published around 1968, so one of his earlier books. The story is centered around the town of Bonn, Germany, the Capital of the Federal Republic at the time of the Cold War, the great divide between East and West. The occupying forces of Britain, France and USA are slowly withdrawing and handing over more control to the German Federal Government. There was then a climate of espionage and complex spy networks that every country operated and it was duplicitous. In this novel the British Embassy and Government and its spy agencies are the main actors. It is also a time when Britain is actively involved in joining the European Common Market with stiff opposition from France under General De Gaulle who opposed such a move. A Second Secretary has vanished with important secret documents, an investigator arrives from London from MI6 to find an embassy in disarray, security breaches, budget cut backs and many more problems with its diplomatic staff. I have to say that a lot of what LeCarré writes about reminds me of my time in the Foreign Service, similar problems and circumstances.
The first chapter of the book is somewhat confusing and found it difficult to follow, however by the second chapter it all became clear and this was a device LeCarré used to draw in his readers. Also the 1960’s is far from us nowadays, the events depicted and discussed no longer exist, the world in 1989 was transformed with the fall of the Wall and the dissolution of the East Bloc countries and its communist regimes. The German Federal Government moved from Bonn to Berlin the capital of a re-united Germany in 1990. It is nonetheless a great book and a fast moving story. I had never heard of this book and I am glad I found it in a second hand book store in Summerside.
The other book I am reading is The Tailor of Panama by John LeCarré published in 1996. This copy of the book is a first edition. This book is well known and amongst the more popular of LeCarré’s books. The story as the title indicates is in Panama City and is centred on the character of Harry Pendel, a tailor from Saville Row in London who relocated to Panama City. His tailor shop is apparently from a famous address on Saville Row, the book is about who Harry Pendel is and how he came about living in Panama, marrying and having a family. That is until Andrew Osnard walks into his shop one afternoon and the plot goes from there. LeCarré is very good at describing the people and there are lots of unsavoury characters in this book, where money, booze, sex, greed and politics is all mixed in with spies and Central American dictators and the transfer of the Canal Zone from the USA to Panamanian control.
The third book I bought is Hidden in Plain Sight by Lord Jeffrey Archer. This book I abandoned, I do not like the writing style which reads almost as a TV script and the characters appear flat. So, no, not for me.
I am also trying to read a book by Gary Lachman on Carl Jung, who is called the founding father of the New Age, the Swiss Psychiatrist who developed concept like collective unconscious, archetype theory, etc. It is challenging and the other problem is that Jung denied being involved in mystical thought or the occult. The book is called Jung the Mystic, examining the esoteric dimensions of Carl Jung’s Life and Teachings. Not something you read at the beach maybe on a snowy night at home.
So there you have it, my Summer reading.