March 2017: Book Club Review

Theme - Spy Novels: ‘Our Man in Havana’ by Graham Greene

They may share a first name, but James Wormold is no James Bond. An unremarkable vacuum cleaner salesman, Wormold navigates pre-revolutionary Cuba and the interests of MI6 with his devoutly Catholic teenage daughter; Dr. Hasselbacher, his only friend; and Beatrice, a radio assistant.

Talking through each set piece within this black comedy's critique of the intelligence services, we tried to decide which part we enjoyed more: the man with 'women-trouble' and seemingly endless wives and girlfriends, the trade association luncheon, or the final game of draughts using miniature whiskey bottles.

We discussed the motivations of Dr Hasselbacher and the veracity of his friendship with Wormold, especially in relation to the conclusion of his narrative However, the biggest emotions drawn were the sympathies and expressions of outrage that went out to the unsuspecting dog; an unwitting victim in the almost farcical climax of the novel.

All agreed that the novel was an unexpectedly humorous take on the genre. With a mixture of threes and twos, our odd number came to a majority vote with a score of 2/3.

Recommended further reading:

If you enjoyed our choice, you could also read 'The Tailor of Panama' by John le Carre, which was inspired by ‘Our Man in Havana’.

If you liked our theme, but wanted to try a different author, why not check out the offerings from John le Carre, Ian Fleming or Tom Clancy.

If you were not interested by the theme 'Spy novels', but are curious about Graham Greene novels, you could try:

  • 'The End of the Affair'

  • 'Power and the Glory'

  • 'Brighton Rock'

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