In previous rounds of these "joint readings" (Sandman 1-20 and On Beauty), we have gone back and forth with our book chatter here as we read the book. But I think I speak for both of us when I say... we are done talking about this book. [In fact, we were truly done
This time around, we divided the book in quarters and met via Facetime every Friday for 3 weeks (which was super fun!) and then our final "discussion" was in person (I put that in quotes because it was more like us rolling around on your couch saying, "So glad that's done -- this book was not for usssss.")
But! I did take a few notes during our chats, so if we ever want to come back here and say, "Wait... what did we say about that book?" we'll have it.
[Ok -- I was going to include more from our notes/conversations here, but I've stalled out at the
The plot was overly convoluted. As we stumbled through this book, we kept saying, "Oh, this will all become clear as the book goes on," but... it didn't.
Too many f*cking characters. I don't read spy novels and you do -- you said this is common in spy novels but sheesh... it was really hard to keep up with everyone (in fact, we did not!)
The actual *writing* was quite good [which, you observed, is unusual for a spy novel] and there was quite a bit of comedy. We especially enjoyed the personal asides of the main character, Jonathan Pine. Here's one -- in the heat of a moment, he grabs a knife to defend himself, which is maybe not the best weapon:
Why the knife? He wondered as he ran. Why the knife? Who am I going to slice up with a knife? But he didn't throw it away. He was glad he had the knife, because a man with a weapon; any weapon, is twice the man he is without one: read the manual. "Read the manual." Hee hee.
And there was the dude in the hotel who was super-committed to his wig (I'm not even going to look up more details about that. We'll see if that story stands the test of time and we remember it later...)
But basically, the book was only really interesting when we were reading about Pine.
Theories we had along the way about why we struggled:
- Main character does not know his own motivation.
- Published in 1991, so there isn't a "clear" bad guy in a post-Cold War world.
- Like the TV shows X-files and Alias... the underground/spy story is the boring part. And that was a lot of this book.
- The henchmen were named "Frisky" and "Tabby," which is hilarious.
- Tess of the d'Urbervilles made an appearance! (Oh, Tess.)
- Why was this called The Night Manager? Seems like such a small part of the novel. Perhaps that was intentional? To throw us off the larger plot?