Monday, October 5, 2015

Completed: The Night Manager

Dear Jenny,

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 last month two THREE months ago! when we finished the book and I started this post!]

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 two THREE month mark and hey... we didn't really like this flipping book anyway. So here are some random jottings... feel free to add more if you're so inclined...]

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. [185] 
"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. 
Perhaps, in the end, the book was just not written "for us" (this is part of a larger discussion about audience, which you are welcome to pick up below but I am dying to hit "Publish" on this bad boy.)
And here are some other random observations we had along the way:
  • 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? 
In conclusion, I just killered this book review.



  1. Actual LOL at the "killered" this book, which I think is really going to stick with me even though the book itself was such a dud!

    Even though we decided that we weren't the audience for this book, I actually don't want to dredge it all up again. Looking back, it was QUITE FORTUITOUS that we decided to skype this one. Can you even imagine how tortured we would have been if we had written it all out? Writing about something you dislike can be fun at first, but then it really begins to hurt.

    Because I did like Jonathan Pine so much, I would watch the mini-series they are filming. Mostly because Pine is played by Tom Hiddleson, an actor I really like. In fact, once I heard he was playing PIne, I started to imagine him in the book.


    Actually, I guess we could skype that, too. I mean, Darius does that with his friends. He plays video games on one end and his buddy watches him via Facetime. Honestly, it's totally fucking weird. Kids these days.

    1. In one breath, you recall *us* watching TV together on the phone and in the next, you call it "totally fucking weird" when kids do the same thing with Facetime and video games... seems like a totally logical evolution of teenage communication to me. ;)

      Yes -- we should watch it together via Facetime. Just like the weird kids do.

  2. Replies
    1. Don't be a square, Mom!

      Oh wait... the kids probably aren't saying that... ;)

  3. month, and by the time I remember to set the DVR, I only caught the last 3 of the 6 episodes. BUT THEN, through the magic of DVRs, it recorded the first 3 when they replayed them last week.'s the deal. I've been watching and THE ACTION translates way better into a TV show. Like, all that convoluted plotting makes total sense when you're watching. They did do a fair amount of updating, so the technology is up to day and it's taking place now instead of in 1991.

    All in all, it's pretty good viewing while I'm on the exercise bike. I'm not going to even lie to you, though. This is a BIG part of why I'm planning to finish...watching Tom Hiddleston is a real pleasure. Obviously, he's a babe...

    But, Hiddleston was a great choice, and the show really reminds me of why I liked Pine as a character so much. I'm enjoying it!


    PS I have not yet reached the episode with the butt shot in the above link. But it has inspired me to keep watching!

    1. However. Sadly. No one has Killered anyone yet, or uttered that phrase. I will keep an ear out to see if it appears.

      I had to reread our review to see why we didn't like it. The mysterious character in the book with the wig? Not in the show. Not in my memory.