The Little Drummer Girl

The Little Drummer Girl by John Le Carré

(This review contains spoilers!)

I first watched this on an overnight flight from Hong Kong. I planned to sleep, but had the box-set on in the background. It was fascinating, but there was lots which I didn’t understand, so I think I drifted off to sleep for chunks of it. When I got home, I ordered the book on my Kindle, and tried to untangle the confusion. It really is, an excellent book, with a complicated plot.

The story basically charts the training of a spy. She is a young actress, and therefore unknown in the spying world. She is seduced by Zionists, and persuaded that spying is simply acting, with the real world as your stage. The idea is a good one, and probably close to the truth—I guess to spy you are pretending to be someone else.

A cover story is created, which the actress has to ‘live’, so that if she is ever questioned, she will be relying on real memories in her answers. She falls in love with her trainer (so did I, a little, he is the absolute tall dark stranger, a silent strong type).

However, the real interest for me was the exploration of the whole Zionist issue. While the actress is being prepared for her role, she needs to absorb the teachings and propaganda of the Palestinians. Gradually, they change from being simply terrorists willing to kill and maim innocent bystanders, and become real people with a cause. The reader is gradually shown that neither side in the debate is without blame, and that the issue is much more complicated than it first appears.

For example, there is some discussion about the Jews, who were made a faceless non-human by the Nazis, and therefore able to be exterminated. When they then went to Israel, after the war, their view of the Palestinians was not so different. They also considered them as lesser humans, people who had no right to live in the land promised to the Jews. In their minds, they exterminated them. In reality, they took their homes and land, places they had been settled in for generations. The book also talked of the unprovoked violence that peaceful Palestinians encountered, and how it had forced them to become an army, so the rest of the world listened to them.

Now, this is a work of fiction, and therefore one assumes that both the characters and the situations have been romanticised. But it does also ask some real questions, and encourages the reader to look at the issues in the Middle East from both sides. When the actress finally joins the Palestinians, she bonds with them, loves some of them, watches children being killed by the Zionist army. We, the reader, wonder whether she will turn, and instead of spying for the Zionists, will join the Palestinians, and there is a moment of tension when you are unsure which way she will turn (as are her handlers).

I loved this book, even though sometimes I got a little lost and found it difficult to keep each character clear in my head. The issues explored are fascinating, the idea that neither side is perfect, that there is real hurt and despair inflicted on both peoples, and there are no easy answers. Of course, because this is a John Le Carré book, there are also beautiful descriptions, and moments of real humour, and the characters are so real you start to look for them in the street. It is the timeless sort of book that you can read and enjoy more than once.

Thank you for reading. Use your time wisely today.
Take care.
Love, Anne x


Anne E Thompson has written several novels and writes a regular blog each week. You can follow her blog at:

Have you read my latest novel: Ploughing Through Rainbows? It’s a great holiday read. Available from an Amazon near you as both a Kindle book and a paperback.

A hilarious family saga set on a farm. Being a parent has no end-date, as Susan discovers when her adult sons begin to make unexpected choices in life.
A warm-hearted, feel good novel that will make you smile.

German Amazon link here

UK link here

U.S. link here

Book Review….

Book Review (No spoilers!)
The Night Manager by John leCarre

Now, this is quite funny. I decided to read something different. I had finished The Night Manager (review below) and I wanted to read something easy and light. Usually I read spy/crime/thrillers. I thought I would try something completely different. So, there is a woman, who uses Twitter a LOT. Honestly, her face is always on there! So, I thought, okay, she seems to have written several books, and is clearly trying very hard to market them (she has my sympathy) I will try one.

Well, then it gets to the funny bit. You see, I went on to my Twitter account, to find the link to her latest book so I could buy it and…..she had blocked me! I didn’t even know you could block people on Twitter. I am not completely sure why she did this, possibly it was a mistake, or it might be because a while ago, I posted something on Twitter and she commented. I then reposted it, and she sent me a message, complaining I had deleted her comments. I had not – at least not intentionally – I wouldn’t know how to even if I wanted to, in fact, I hadn’t even seen her comments. But my IT skills are fairly basic, so I replied, apologising and saying it was in error, not to be nasty. Perhaps she didn’t believe me. Perhaps there was another reason. But she has blocked me.

So, what to do? At first I was rather put out, decided I would buy someone else’s book. Then I decided that was silly, why should I change my mind just because I had been blocked from her Twitter feed? It might have been a mistake, or maybe she has an ill mother or some other stress in her life that I don’t know about, and had over reacted. I am not perfect myself. Sometimes I react wrongly. Sometimes I need people to cut me some slack and ignore a sharp tone or a statement that came out wrong. So, I bought her book. If I like it, I’ll write a review (if I don’t like it, I won’t. No need to write a bad review, there is enough negativity in the world.) I haven’t had time to read it yet, so watch this space…
So, on to The Night Manager.

My brother told me I should buy The Night Manager DVD. His recommendations are usually good, so I did. The DVD shows all the episodes from the television series. I didn’t even know it had been a television series (I don’t watch telly much.) So, Son 2 was home, and after dinner each evening, we sat and watched one, or sometimes two, episodes. It was brilliant (hence the rather indulgent two episodes some evenings!) A good mix of brilliant acting, a great script and that fine balance between not being confused while watching but also not being able to guess quite HOW it was going to end. Worth investing a few hours of relaxation.

When we had watched the last episode, I decided to buy the book for when we went on holiday. John leCarre is one of my favourite authors – in fact, he is the person in the world who I would most like to meet for coffee. I’ve seen him interviewed a couple of times, plus I love his writing, I think his brain is amazing and that he would make for a very interesting person to chat to. But anyway, back to the book. Although I have read quite a lot of his work, I had missed The Night Manager, so downloaded the Kindle version and read it on holiday. It did not disappoint.

I would definitely recommend that you watch the televised version first, and then read the book. The characters in the drama are excellent, and when I read the book, I could still hear their voices in my head. Even though one of the characters actually changes gender between the telly version and the book, it doesn’t spoil the enjoyment at all. In fact, a lot about the book was different. There are huge differences in plot, places and finale. But the essence of the characters and the main themes in the story, remain true in both.

At the end of the book, there is a short conclusion by John leCarre. He also comments on the differences, saying that when he heard they were going to change so much in the filmed version, his thought was to tell them to “write your own bloody book”. I’m so glad he didn’t, that he was wise enough to trust the people who made the televised version. We can enjoy both of them.


Amazon link:é/dp/0340597658/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1474219070&sr=8-5&keywords=the+night+manager


Thank you for reading.

If you enjoy good books, why not try Hidden Faces?

Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016


Next week I write about our church, which also tends to have things go unexpectedly wrong.