Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Il giardiniere tenace by John Le Carré

Il giardiniere tenace (original 2001; edition 2001)

by John Le Carré

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,522601,503 (3.59)97
Title:Il giardiniere tenace
Authors:John Le Carré
Collections:Your library
Tags:Diplomacy, Detective Story, Pharmaceutical Industry, Africa, Multinational companies

Work details

The Constant Gardener by John le Carré (Author) (2001)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 97 mentions

English (52)  French (3)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (60)
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
I remember first reading this and thinking it not le Carré’s best but I was pleasantly surprised by this rereading.

I guess the structure is typical of the mystery genre into which this, at least, superficially fits. We have the report of the crime and then the investigation revealing a series of flashbacks as those questioned remember (and to an extent repress) what happened earlier. I find this a little frustrating, this artificial creation of suspense. I prefer it to be created by perhaps following one investigator and learning, as he does, what has happened.

Still, this book has so much more in it, content-wise, with le Carré’s sights firmly set on the ‘bad Samaritans’ to quote the dead Tessa – those who watch and do nothing as is the case with the British diplomatic corps in this case. I think this is something worth thinking about and in the fourteen odd years since le Carré wrote this book, the way the multi-nationals wreck the lives of others for their own corporate greed has become all the more pervasive and destructive, stopping mankind from fighting climate change, for example, as those with entrenched interests in fossil fuel prevent the growth of carbon-neutral technology. All very depressing and here I’m with the earlier Justin in seeing the way there’s so little one can do about it.

In a way, though, I find Justin as culpable, if not more so, than Woodrow who’s portrayed by le Carré as one of the main villains in the piece. Both these diplomats do nothing but I think we’re meant to feel sympathetic towards Justin even though he too withholds information from the police. Married to Tessa, he also should have actively supported her. As Woodrow tells Justin ‘We all betrayed her . . . How about you, sitting on your arse and growing flowers while she was out there being a saint?’ Perhaps this comes back to a flaw in the plot – the marriage of an idealist to a pragmatist, something that, given Tessa’s political activism, was unlikely to happen. That Justin does later take up the fight doesn’t elevate him to me.

In order to have punch and credibility, the novel has to end with the bad guys winning and there’s that sense of inevitability all the way through. Lorbeer’s dual personality, though, doesn’t seem convincing to me – just too overdrawn – and maybe the novel gets a bit drawn out, especially in the second part. Still, at nearly 600 pages, it is an achievement to keep the reader engaged to the end. ( )
  evening | Jul 18, 2015 |
John Le Carre is known for his intense character development, notably cynical, ironic portrayals of those in Britain's intelligence community. Character development is certainly evident in this work, and Le Carre manages this as well as he does in any of his other books. Yet this novel differs in one important aspect. Rather than taking a cold detached stance, Le Carre gets deeply personal. In fact one can feel the anger he himself felt while typing away at the manuscript. For that reason alone, I feel that this is one of his best.

The story is about Justin Quayle, a mid-range bureaucrat in the British foreign service whose young wife Tessa is heavily involved in relief work. Tessa is horribly murdered and the respected African doctor she was traveling with disappears. Bits of information fall into Justin's lap about a so-called wonder drug for TB, and Tessa's research into its ultimate side effect - death. The practices of pharmaceutical companies in the Third World, the business of humanitarian aid, and roles governments play in regards to both are probed by interesting characters.

The Constant Gardener is at its heart a whodunit and a love story. It is also a moving study of personal transformation. As Justin seeks answers to his wife's murder, he metamorphoses from a bland, indifferent bureaucrat into an impassioned and valiant crusader.

On a personal level, I found it interesting that the story has the same villain, Big Pharma, as in my own novel [b:Journey Towards a Falling Sun|21956215|Journey Towards a Falling Sun|N. Lombardi Jr.|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1398080584s/21956215.jpg|41263855]. I wrote that book back in 1985,(although it was published this year, 2014). Le Carre wrote The Constant Gardener in 2000, which means we both derived that theme independently, giving support to the notion of Africa's vulnerability to the unscrupulous practices of the drug industry. With the current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, it certainly makes one wonder. ( )
  BBcummings | Dec 24, 2014 |
Read during Summer 2002

It's a good sign when you can't put it down about 30 pages into it. Even though this is many years after Our Game, it was a good followup about discovering a person you thought you knew already. Here it is the violent death of Tessa Quayle that sets her husband Justin on a personal voyage to learn who she really was. It was hard to get over my distrust of Tessa, who is someone who protests about EVERYTHING and, after readin many spy novels, I was amazed at how open she was about her information but the story became more and more compelling as Justin follows her trail to find out why she died.
  amyem58 | Jul 14, 2014 |
The wife of a British diplomat in Nairobi is found brutally murdered, and her husband pieces together the events of the last months and days of her life to try to find out who did it. Meanwhile, those involved in the conspiracy around her murder thwart his efforts.

If Carre were not a master writer, this would be a pretty uninteresting book... But Carre is a master writer, and the characters are vivid and the suspense is well-crafted. There is nothing profound or earth-shattering about this book, but it is an engaging page-turner. ( )
  Gwendydd | Nov 30, 2013 |
One of the reviewers on Amazon complained that this book had little to do with gardening. Good grief!

I think Le Carre has made the transition from Cold War spy novels to contemporary issue thrillers quite handsomely. In this book, he really goes after the pharmaceutical companies, accusing them not only of unethical practices using Africans as guinea pigs, but also suggests they would kill anyone whom might deign to challenge their unholy hegemony.

It's also truly a great love story. The relationship of trust and reliance that emerges gradually through the course of the novel between Tessa and Justin is really wonderful. Unusual perhaps; striking, nevertheless.

This is a tale of grand corruption on an international scale but also a celebration (albeit tragic) of the idealistic individual. But I warn you, it's a dark tale. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
le Carré, JohnAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moppes, Rob vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wit, J.J. deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?
--"Andrea del Sarto" by Robert Browning
For Yvette Pierpaoli who lived and died giving a damn
First words
The news hit the British High Commission in Nairobi at nine-thirty on a Monday Morning.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743287207, Paperback)

British diplomat Justin Quayle, complacent raiser of freesias and doting husband of the stunning, much younger Tessa, has tended his own garden in Nairobi too long. Tessa is Justin's opposite, a fiery reformer, "that rarest thing, a lawyer who believes in justice," whose campaigns have earned her a nickname: "the Princess Diana of the African poor." But now Tessa has turned up naked, raped, and dead on a mysterious visit to remote Lake Turkana in Kenya. Her traveling companion (and lover?), the handsome Congolese-Belgian doctor Arnold Bluhm, has vanished. So has Quayle's complacency.

Tessa had been compiling data against a multinational drug company that uses helpless Africans as guinea pigs to test a tuberculosis remedy with unfortunately fatal side effects. Her report was destroyed by her husband's superiors; was she? It's all somehow connected to the sinister British firm House of ThreeBees, whose ad boasts that it's "buzzy for the health of Africa!" John le Carré symbolically associates ThreeBees with an ominous buzz in the Nairobi morgue: "Over [the corpses], in a swaying, muddy mist, hung the flies, snoring on a single note."

The home office tries to take Quayle in out of the cold. He cleverly eludes their clammy embrace, turns spy, and takes off on a global chase to avenge Tessa and solve her murder. Le Carré has lost none of his gift for setting vivid scenes in far-flung places expertly described: London, Germany, Saskatchewan, Kenya. His sprinting thriller prose remains in great shape. And thanks to his 16 years in the British Foreign Office, his merciless send-up of its cutthroat intrigues and petty self-delusions is unbelievably good--or rather, believably so. This is global do-gooder satire on a literary par with Doris Lessing's The Summer Before the Dark.

But you want to know if The Constant Gardener is as good as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Very nearly. Africa's nightmare is more complex than the cold war chess match, and the world pharmaceutical circus is tougher to dramatize than the old spy-versus-spy-versus-spymaster game. Still, le Carré can write a smart, melancholy page-turner, and his moral outrage (the real subject of his books) burns as brightly as ever. --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:03 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

When the young and beautiful wife of a much older embassy worker and amateur gardener is found murdered near northern Kenya's Lake Turkana, his personal pursuit of the killers not only sets him up as their next target, but as a suspect among his embassy colleagues.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 10 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
402 avail.
2 wanted
6 pay8 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.59)
0.5 2
1 24
1.5 4
2 47
2.5 17
3 187
3.5 53
4 272
4.5 29
5 106


An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 99,669,315 books! | Top bar: Always visible