Thursday, March 15, 2012

Top ten romans-fleuves

"Roman-fleuve sounds a very French sort of thing," writes Jeffrey Archer at the Guardian. "Britannica defines it as 'a series of novels, each one complete in itself, that deals with an era of national life, or successive generations of a family'."

Archer, who is the author of his own five-book series, The Clifton Chronicles, named his top ten romans-fleuves, including:
The Smiley trilogy by John le Carré

In Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People, Le Carré achieves a perfect blend between the novel of manners and the sophisticated spy story. Future generations will be able to learn all they need to know about the attitudes and obsessions of a certain part of British society in the 1960s and 1970s from these novels. At the centre stands the unforgettable character of George Smiley – decent, intelligent, thoughtful, relentless, self-questioning – who uncovers a mole in the secret service, attempts to restore the service's prestige and takes on the great Soviet spymaster Karla. When it comes to spies, Le Carré has no equal.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is on John Mullan's list of ten of the best pairs of glasses in literature and among Robert Baer's five best books on being a spy and Stella Rimington's six favorite secret agent novels; Peter Millar includes it among John le Carré's best books.

--Marshal Zeringue