As much as I enjoyed le Carré stories I shared in my first post, I have to say that I have very mixed feelings about “The Night Manager”. It started well and I had high hopes that I was about to be entertained with a masterpiece of observational writing. I have stayed at many hotels over the years, often arriving late after a long journey. This description of a Night Manager really resonated with my experience of late night check-ins:
“Jonathan Pine… took up his position in the lobby as a prelude to extending his hotel’s welcome to a distinguished late arrival… His gaze as he watched the door was steady as a maksman’s. He wore a carnation. At night he always did… [his] Smile of Gracious Welcome that he had worked up during his years in the profession: a sympathetic smile but a prudently restrained one, for he had learned by experience that guests, particularly very rich ones, could be tetchy after a demanding journey, and the last thing they needed on arrival was a night manager grinning at them like a chimpanzee.”
I would definitely classify myself as a tetchy late night traveller and that exposition is spot on. The problem is that we learn all of this within the first six pages, and not a lot of action happens after that. On reflection, why did it even take le Carré six pages to give us that much?
I found the book to be ponderous with rare pieces of interesting character observation. In the end I didn’t care about Pine, his past and regrets, his mission, how bad ‘Roper’ was, or indeed anything else in the story. It was all too slow with too little happening.
I don’t often do this, but I eventually gave up halfway through “The Night Manager”, which for me only scores 0.5 / 5 on the ‘Cloak & Dagger’ scale.