This latest novel by the great spymaster le Carre´ is a “must read” for every Germanophile British person, which, I admit, needn´t necessarily mean a lot.
Anyway, it starts out very p.c. We meet Ted Mundy, an Englishman in his fifties, who lives in Munich together with his Turkish common law wife, a former prostitute, and her son. He earns his living as a guide to English-speaking tourists in Linderhof Castle. We listen in to one of his tours and are given a precious little masterpiece, a tour d´ horizon of Bavarian history by le Carre´.
He then guides us back in time to the Berlin of the 70s and we meet Mundy again right where the action is, in a students´community. His love for German literature brought him there, but now he follows his friend Sasha and lover Judith, who fight against fascist pigs et al. He is arrested during a demonstration and sent back to Britain, where he becomes a third rate teacher at a likewise school. It all sounds very autobiographic. In due course Mundy joins the British Council, i. e. the Secret Service and Sasha is his counterpart in East Germany. All this is really splendid reading.
Well, the last bit is just as p.c. as the beginning, naturally, as we follow Mundy to the year 2003. Le Carre´uses his protagonist as a storefront for his own frustration with and hate for everything American. Like a good German he loudly proclaims his furor about the Iraq War and poor Mundy has to pay for it with his life.