The last of John le Carré's espionage novels to feature his most enduring and well-loved character, George Smiley, and a gripping feat of narrative brilliance, The Secret Pilgrim is published in Penguin Modern Classics with an afterword by the author.
The Cold War is over and Ned has been demoted to the training academy. He asks his old mentor, George Smiley, to address his passing-out class. There are no laundered reminiscences; Smiley speaks the truth - perhaps the last the students will ever hear. As they listen, Ned recalls his own painful triumphs and inglorious failures, in a career that took him from the Western Isles of Scotland to Hamburg and from Israel to Cambodia. He asks himself: Did it do any good? What did it do to me? And what will happen to us now? In this final Smiley novel, the great spy gives his own humane and unexpected answers.
If you enjoyed The Secret Pilgrim, you might like le Carré's The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
'Consummate and enthralling'
%%%The Berlin Wall has come down. The Cold War is over.
Ned, who learned his tradecraft at Smiley's feet, has been put out to grass at Sarratt, known otherwise as the Nursery, the training school for young entrants to the British Secret Service. Haunted by what he did in his own career, but wanting to impart wisdom to the latest intake of trainees, he invites Smiley to speak to this year's class.
To Ned's surprise, Smiley, long retired, accepts.
As Smiley recalls some of the key events of his career, so Ned examines the cost in human lives in the course of his own. Ned's reflections - stretching from Scotland's Western Isles to Israel and Hamburg and Cambodia - and superimposed on Smiley's recollections, provide a rare glimpse into the hearts and minds of a generation of spies made obselete by the passing of the Cold War.