The Tiger Who Came to Tea
by Judith Kerr
This is a glorious book. It was read to me when I was a child and now I read it to my children, so it has a special place in the circularity of my life. How exciting to have a tiger to tea! It wasn’t scary but magical; a normal day becomes extraordinary thanks to the simple brilliance of Judith Kerr’s story and wonderful drawings. Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, so it really has stood the test of time.
The Human Factor
by Graham Greene
Until I read this aged 17, my exposure to the world of espionage had been through action heroes doing daring deeds. How differently Greene paints the world of the British Secret Intelligence Service and politics. The protagonist, Castle, lives a seemingly dry and mundane life working in the MI6 offices, getting the same train and having his lunch in the same pub every day. There’s so much more beneath Greene’s characters than you anticipate. I started to look a bit differently at the people around me…
The Constant Gardener
by John le Carré
I read this when it was first published in 2001, and I thought it was astonishing how le Carré could write about such complex times and political situations with absolute success. This is based on a real-life case of murder and corruption in Africa, and most chilling of all is the note le Carré writes in the afterword: “By comparison with the reality, my story is as tame as a holiday postcard”.
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