The Night Manager and Signed Copy Giveaway
Adaptations are funny things. When you read a book, the only budget limitations are those of the author’s, and the reader’s, imaginations. Sometimes, either side of that deal can be lacking, but for the most part, the words on the page; the people, places, incidences and minutiae, all explode into life in your imagination. You cast as you see fit, create whole worlds and run riot with the author leading the way. You may not always see eye to eye with the writer, but your mind’s eye runs away and you get lost in the text. But for every good adaptation, there are a thousand which fall short of the mark, for reasons ranging from budget to plain incompetence. But, to be fair, it was a TV adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe books that led me to properly picking up a book and truly reading it, loving every single line and grabbing for the next. John Le Carre has been writing and thrilling us for over half a century. The adaptations of his books usually fall in the “worthy, but flawed” category. There are notable high points, Richard Burton in The Spy Who Came In from The Cold, Alec Guinness’ take on George Smiley in the BBC’s versions of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and, in my opinion, the better Smiley’s People. Well, Aunty is back with a John Le Carre adaptation and they have liberty thrown the licence fee payer’s money at The Night Manager. Written originally in 1993 and the first of Le Carre’s novels set in the post cold war world, he looked at the dark world of the international arm dealer, a timely subject in a time when arms were flooding out of the former Soviet Union and Balkan wars and we sold, in some cases, by weight rather than unit. Le Carre created a hero, rather along the lines of his Honourable Schoolboy Jerry Westerby. Jonathan Pine is an ex-soldier, with a calling to duty a mile wide, that has left scars at the lengths he went to during The Troubles. He escapes into the world of the hotelier, being the charming English face of the high end of the world. But his duty and desire to save leads to disaster in Egypt with the death of Sophie, a woman he thinks he loves and into the world of playboy arms deal Richard Roper. When they meet again in Switzerland, he is drawn to Roper’s woman, Jed, and a desire to avenge his now, almost mythical, Sophie. Contacted by a rough MI6 agent, Burr, Pine cuts all ties and goes deep undercover in an attempt to be taken in by Roper and his “family”.
The book is in what I call Le Carre’s “happy period”, before his anger at the injustice of the world dooms everyone in his imagination. The Night Manager is a wonderful, almost glacially paced novel. Pine slowly builds his legend and slowly gets closer and closer to Roper before he finally gets in, by way of saving Roper’s son on a Caribbean island. From there, Le Carre goes through the gears, weaving the plot threads back together and looking at the confluence of drugs and guns, and the people making fortunes out of it all. As a movie, it probably wouldn't work, the skill of the tale is in the pacing, of which Le Carre is a master. Everything is deliberate, perfectly positioned and never wasted. As a six part miniseries, we should have the space to allow the pace to flow as beautifully as did on the page. They've nailed the casting and in Susanne Bier, they have a director of consummate skill, After The Wedding is a masterpiece and I highly recommend it.. Pine is the personification of the English gentleman, but with a dark soul. Casting Tom Hiddleston is a dream come true. He is Pine and in the version in my head, without thinking about it, Hiddleston was my Pine. My Roper was somewhat different, but Hugh Laurie is a brilliant choice. Throw in a gender change for Burr in the always wonderful Olivia Coleman and we’re onto a winner. My Mum is happy Tom Hollander is in it, she is a fan. The pieces look good, and while I’m not a huge admirer of Elizabeth Debicki, she at least does look the part of Jed. This has all the elements of being rather fun. As the series goes on, I’ll return and either review each episode or maybe just do a wrap up at the end of six weeks. My excitement only grows, Sunday looms.
So to share my excitement, I’m going to throw a little competition. I have managed to obtain a Penguin Modern Classics edition of The Night Manager signed by John Le Carre himself. I am running the giveaway via my Twitter account, @BoneyAbroad, also liking the Facebook page will get you a double mention in the random stakes. So please see the tweet below or the Facebook page and get following, retweeting and liking. This is certainly shameless self promotion, but hey, what else is there to do in February? I shall pick the winner at random on Tuesday 23rd of February and get it to you in time for the second episode. Best of luck and thanks for having a read of the site!