The Russia House

The Russia House

Summary

John le Carré's first post-glasnost spy novel, The Russia House captures the effect of a slow and uncertain thaw on ordinary people and on the shadowy puppet-masters who command them

Barley Blair is not a Service man: he is a small-time publisher, a self-destructive soul whose only loves are whisky and jazz. But it was Barley who, one drunken night at a dacha in Peredelkino during the Moscow Book Fair, was befriended by a high-ranking Soviet scientist who could be the greatest asset to the West since perestroika began, and made a promise. Nearly a year later, his drunken promise returns to haunt him. A reluctant Barley is quickly trained by British Intelligence and sent to Moscow to liaise with a go-between, the beautiful Katya. Both are lonely and disillusioned. Each is increasingly certain that if the human race is to have any future, all must betray their countries ...

If you enjoyed The Russia House, you might like le Carré's The Secret Pilgrim, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Classic le Carré'
Sunday Times

Reviews

  • Classic le Carré
    Sunday Times

About the author

John le Carré

John le Carré was born in 1931. For six decades, he wrote novels that came to define our age. The son of a confidence trickster, he spent his childhood between boarding school and the London underworld. At sixteen he found refuge at the university of Bern, then later at Oxford. A spell of teaching at Eton led him to a short career in British Intelligence (MI5&6). He published his debut novel, Call for the Dead, in 1961 while still a secret servant. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, secured him a worldwide reputation, which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People. At the end of the Cold War, le Carré widened his scope to explore an international landscape including the arms trade and the War on Terror. His memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel, was published in 2016 and the last George Smiley novel, A Legacy of Spies, appeared in 2017. He died on 12 December 2020. His posthumous novel Silverview was published in 2021.
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