Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré – Book Review

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré – Book Review

As of the 27th September 2018, Penguin Modern Classics have published the entire works of John Le Carré, making him the living author with the greatest body of work to be awarded classic status. The project took nine years to compete.

To celebrate this and the new six-part BBC adaptation of The Little Drummer Girl coming soon starring Alexander Skarsgard and Florence Pugh, Penguin have organised a three week blog tour with bloggers each reviewing a different John Le Carré book. There is also a fab giveaway to enter at the bottom of this page too.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Author – John Le Carré
Publisher – Penguin Classics
Pages – 432
Released – 27th September 2018 (re-issued)
ISBN-13 – 978-1473674134
Format – ebook, paperback, audio
Reviewer – Stacey
Rating – 4 Stars
I received a free copy of this book
Post contains affiliate links.


The enduring novel by one of our greatest storytellers.

George Smiley, who is a troubled man of infinite compassion, is also a single-mindedly ruthless adversary as a spy.

The scene which he enters is a Cold War landscape of moles and lamplighters, scalp-hunters and pavement artists, where men are turned, burned or bought for stock. Smiley’s mission is to catch a Moscow Centre mole burrowed thirty years deep into the Circus itself.

New one review witch 2017

This is the first John Le Carré book that I have ever read. When I mentioned it to a few people that I would be reading it they all said the same thing, ‘it is a great book to get me introduced to the author’s work’. I will admit that I know of the book and that a few years ago there was a BBC adaptation of it and a recent movie. Alas, I have seen none, so apart from the synopsis and little snippets people were telling me, I knew nothing about the book.

My first impressions of Le Carré’s work is how rich in vocabulary it is, you can certainly tell it was written a few decades ago from the carefully chosen descriptive words. Whilst this is a spy story set during the Cold War, there is no James Bond bling to it.

George Smiley is a fascinating character. He has been brought back from retirement (this is the fifth George Smiley book), and give the task of searching for a mole high up in the ranks of the MI6. As well as George there is a vast array of characters, too many to mention and at times I did feel a little confused as to who was who. This is most definitely a book you need to concentrate on.

It did take me a while to read and at times I re-read pages just to make sure I had the story straight. I feel this is more down to the fact I rarely read older books, so the language and the tone took some getting used to.

Overall I found the book absorbing. I was expecting the plot to jump right into the thick of it, so I was a little confused by the opening scenes in a school, but everything came together nicely.

I have now been compelled to read more by John Le Carré, including ‘The Little Drummer Girl’, though I might watch the BBC adaptation coming soon first this time.

Reviewed by Stacey

Purchase online from:


About the Author

John Le Carre

John le Carré was born in 1931 and attended the universities of Bern and Oxford. He taught at Eton and served briefly in British Intelligence during the Cold War. For more than fifty years he has lived by his pen. He divides his time between London and Cornwall.

tinker tailor soldier spy

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20 Responses

  1. Shohinee Deb says:

    Good review. I feel I should read this book now

  2. Jo Linsdell says:

    I’ve never read a John Le Carré book. This one sounds good.

  3. Great review. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Robin Taylor says:

    Oh wow! I may have to put this in my TBR.

  5. I think it is one of those books that everyone should try.

  6. I know most of his work, but like you this was my first read.

  7. Thanks for reading.

  8. Great, I hope you enjoy it.

  9. Leslie says:

    I’ve never read one of his books and that is amazing that he is still alive and has the most books as classics!

  10. Pretty special achievement.

  11. Vidya Tiru says:

    I don’t think I have read Carre before but I have seen many of his books on the blogosphere often enough that I am tempted to read them; and you review makes this one so much more interesting.

  12. Awe, thank you. I’m glad that you like the review.

  13. DJ Sakata says:

    I tried to read one of his books once, I was quickly and horribly lost…

  14. I never read nor heard of John Le Carré before your post, is that bad?!

    I will have to have a look at that list and check one out.

  15. I remember this book coming out as a movie recently and thought it sounded good — didn’t know it was based on a novel, and I know John Le Carre’s works are considered excellent, so I think I might give him a try based on your review. Thanks!

  16. Eline says:

    Great review! I admire that you can sit down and read older books. I can never push myself to actually do it.

  17. Tasha says:

    Great review. I don’t tend to read spy novels.

  18. Great review, I haven’t heard about this book until now and it looks and sounds absolutely amazing, I am really glad you enjoy reading it fully. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.

  19. This sounds like a good book.

  20. Great review!