Silverview: A Novel - book cover
History & Criticism
  • Publisher : Viking
  • Published : 12 Oct 2021
  • Pages : 224
  • ISBN-10 : 0593490592
  • ISBN-13 : 9780593490594
  • Language : English

Silverview: A Novel

An instant New York Times bestseller!

In his last completed novel, John le Carré turns his focus to the world that occupied his writing for the past sixty years—the secret world itself.

Named a most anticipated book of the fall by the Associated Press, TIME, People, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Post, AARP, The Millions, Lit Hub, Thrillist, and more

Julian Lawndsley has renounced his high-flying job in the city for a simpler life running a bookshop in a small English seaside town. But only a couple of months into his new career, Julian’s evening is disrupted by a visitor. Edward, a Polish émigré living in Silverview, the big house on the edge of town, seems to know a lot about Julian’s family and is rather too interested in the inner workings of his modest new enterprise.
When a letter turns up at the door of a spy chief in London warning him of a dangerous leak, the investigations lead him to this quiet town by the sea . . .
Silverview is the mesmerizing story of an encounter between innocence and experience and between public duty and private morals. In his inimitable voice John le Carré, the greatest chronicler of our age, seeks to answer the question of what we truly owe to the people we love.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Silverview:

"[le Carré] was often considered one of the finest novelists, period, since World War II. It's not that he 'transcended the genre,' as the tired saying goes; it's that he elevated the level of play… [Silverview's] sense of moral ambivalence remains exquisitely calibrated." -The New York Times Book Review

"The plot unfolds with as much cryptic cunning as a reader could want...enjoyable throughout, written with grace, and a welcome gift from the past."" -The Wall Street Journal

"A thoroughly enjoyable book...a clarion call that slices straight to the bone, and hurts. John le Carré did not just leave the world an engaging novel, he also left us with a warning." -The Washinton Post

"This is an intelligent, mournful, wry delight… a suitable end to a storied career, a low-key thriller with a brain and a conscience." -Minneapolis Star Tribune

"What a gift to have a posthumous novel by John le Carré, a writer who gave us a world of intricate spycraft, government mendacity and corrupt capitalist overlords that was as unromantic as it was immersive and transporting. Silverview is… an enjoyable coda to a unforgettable career." -Vogue

"John le Carré fans can exhale. Silverview, the master storyteller's 26th and final novel, has arrived and it's cause for celebration… Silverview is a propulsive and elegantly written tale… a fully formed thriller that provides a stinging look at the British Secret Service operating under crisis. Less labyrinthine than some of le Carré's early work, it has all the grand themes of his best novels - love and betrayal, loyalty and morality - fully on display." -AARP

"A well-aimed parting shot." -The New Republic

"One of [le Carré's] most touching and satisfying [novels] – for putting into high relief this beloved author's vision for his country and his disappointments, and perhaps most of all, the elegance and coloristic palette of his unique and incomparable prose." -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Silverview is a fine book centered on the lonely lives of spies and difficult choices they make when experience redefines the parameters of their mission for Queen and country… John Le Carré at the top of his game – smart, candid, stylish, relevant." -Valdosta Daily Times

"First-rate prose and a fascinating plot distinguish the final novel from MWA Grand Master le Carré ... This is a fitting coda to a remarkable career." -Publishers Weekly

Praise for John le Carré:

"The premier spy novelist of his time. Perhaps of all time."-TIME

"[Le Carré's] novels are so brilliant beca...

Readers Top Reviews

Knowing that Le Carré wrote this late in life, and that it was published posthumously, I did what I often do, I ordered a sample to check out Silverview’s vibe. Opening chapter, hmmm, his prose is less ornate and nuanced but a cool mystery immediately introduces itself. Next chapter, wow his dialogue is still brilliant and full of elaborate gamesmanship. Next chapter, yikes this is good stuff, better buy the book! Fellow Le Carré fans, I wasn’t particularly keen on his last two novels but this really is a return to form. Highly recommended. Five stars!
In it’s own way the equal to George Smiley books. I loved the Smiley books and had difficulty appreciating any of the author’s later books which I thought were lesser efforts. This one stands on its own as at least the equal to the early books. One should not compare the two. This one has small characters which keep growing in importance. The books have large characters how do even Smikey was large in a shirt and said he was a master spy. This one has a flawed bookseller as a main character. Subtle character and plot development here . Masterful prose.
Dennis E. Henley
I was 30% into Joe Abercrombie's The Wisdom of Crowds when John Le Carré's Silverview popped up on my Kindle. Do I switch books now or finish the excellent "Age of Madness" series? Sorry, Joe. I love your books, but this is Le Carré. And I'll return. I promise. Silverview is billed as Le Carré's last completed novel and it definitely has a beginning, middle and end. It's a fast-paced read, filled with the author's expected obsessions communicated with his outrageous literary skill. In no way did I feel that is was incomplete. There were times, though, when I thought that, although finished, the middle section could be developed more fully. I would like to have spent more time with the character's early secret service years. As published, some of the chapters seem compressed, as if the author wanted to get the gist down and fill in the details later. But don't get me wrong. The story is complete and it really packs a wallop. Le Carré's son Nick adds an afterword about the novel and he explains why he thinks his father was reluctant to publish it. Don't be reluctant to read it. Silverview does not disappoint.
Traveller Jim
A fitting finale. I read it over 24 hours, picking it up each time because it was vintage Le Carre - a joy to read. And putting it down because I didn’t want to finish it - knowing this was the last read. Now it is over. A joy to remember.
A. T. Lawrence
I've just read chapter 1. I can tell it's going to be brilliant. John le Carré hasn't lost a beat. Only he has the ability to craft a mesmerizing atmosphere of British Intelligence that keeps you on the edge of your seat, yet still compelling you to linger over his wonderful use of words and detailed application of adjectives. I'm thrilled to journey into this novel.

Short Excerpt Teaser



At ten o'clock of a rainswept morning in London's West End, a young woman in a baggy anorak, a woollen scarf pulled up around her head, strode resolutely into the storm that was roaring down South Audley Street. Her name was Lily and she was in a state of emotional anxiety which at moments turned to outrage. With one mittened hand she shielded her eyes from the rain while she glowered at door numbers, and with the other steered a plastic-covered pushchair that contained Sam, her two-year-old son. Some houses were so grand they had no numbers at all. Others had numbers but belonged to the wrong street.


Arriving at a pretentious doorway with its number painted with unusual clarity on one pillar, she climbed the steps backwards, hauling the pushchair after her, scowled at a list of names beside the owners' bell buttons, and jabbed the lowest.


'Just give the door a push, dear,' a kindly woman's voice advised her over the speaker.


'I need Proctor. She said Proctor or no one,' Lily said, straight back.


'Stewart's on his way now, dear,' the same soothing voice announced, and seconds later the front door opened to reveal a stalky, bespectacled man in his mid-fifties, with a leftward lean to his body, and a long beakish head tilted in semi-humorous enquiry. A matronly woman with white hair and a cardigan stood at his shoulder.


'I'm Proctor. D'you want a hand with that?' he asked, peering into the pushchair.


'How do I know it's you?' Lily demanded in reply.


'Because your revered mother phoned me last night on my private number and urged me to be here.'


'She said alone,' Lily objected, scowling at the matronly woman.


'Marie looks after the house. She's also happy to lend any kind of spare hand if needed,' said Proctor.


The matronly woman stepped forward but Lily shrugged her away, and Proctor closed the door after her. In the quiet of the entrance hall she rolled back the plastic cover until the top of the sleeping boy's head was revealed. His hair was black and curly, his expression enviably content.


'He was awake all night,' Lily said, laying a hand on the child's brow.


'Beautiful,' the woman Marie said.


Steering the pushchair under the staircase where it was darkest, Lily delved in its underside and extracted a large unmarked white envelope and stood herself before Proctor. His half-smile reminded her of an elderly priest she'd been supposed to confess her sins to at boarding school. She hadn't liked the school and she hadn't like the priest and she didn't intend to like Proctor now.


'I'm supposed to sit here and wait while you read it,' she informed him.


'Of course you are,' Proctor agreed pleasantly, peering crookedly down at her through his spectacles. 'And can I also say, I'm very, very sorry?'


'If you've got a message back, I'm to give it to her by mouth,' she said. 'She doesn't want phone calls, texts or emails. Not from the Service or anyone. Including you.'


'That's all very sad too,' Proctor commented after a moment of sombre reflection, and, as if only now waking to the envelope he was holding in his hand, he poked at it speculatively with his bony fingers: 'Quite an opus, I must say. How many pages, would you think?'


'I don't know.'


'Home stationery?' - still poking - 'Can't be. Nobody has home stationery this size. Just normal typing paper, I suppose.'


'I haven't seen inside. I told you.'


'Of course you did. Well' - with a comic little smile that momentarily disarmed her - 'to work, then. Looks as if I'm in for a long read. Will you excuse me if I withdraw?'


In a barren sitting room on the other side of the entrance hall Lily and Marie sat facing each other in lumpy tartan chairs with wooden arms. On a scratched glass table between them lay a tin tray with a Thermos of coffee and chocolate digestive biscuits. Lily had rejected both.


'So how is she?' Marie asked.


'As well as can be expected, thanks. When you're dying.'


'Yes, it's all awful, of course. It always is. But in her spirit, how is she?'


'She's got her marbles, if that's what you mean. Doesn't do morphine, doesn't hold with it. Comes down for supper when she can manage.'


'And still enjoys her food, I hope?'


Unable to take more of this, Lily marched to the hall and busied herself with Sam until Proctor appeared. His room was smaller than the f...