Book Review

The Constant Gardener

John Le Carre


Most of the group found the book an interesting read with the quality of a page turner, with one dissension who found it slow.

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The murders of a white woman, a diplomat’s wife and her travelling companion , a black doctor who worked for an aid agency begin the novel. Tessa, the murdered wife, is very present in the novel despite being dead and her complex character is portrayed by the many people with whom she had known.
The politics of the situation are explored as the English, colonial presence decides on what approach to take to the whole situation. The Kenyan Government is portrayed as corrupt and ineffective and there is always the indication that the wealthy, influential, pharmaceutical industry is manipulating the events as Tessa and her friend had been trying to expose their immoral use of a supposed new
super drug that would eliminate TB.
Tessa’s husband investigation is the heart of the novel as he tries to find those responsible and bring them to some form of justice and the reader is constantly aware of the danger he himself is in. The novel is long and the consensus was that it would probably have been an easier read if edited and not involved a form of moving between past and present.
However it is well written and an interesting read though not to be recommended to anyone whop is depressed and a believer in conspiracy theories. Not many characters are empathetic and the god of profit is all pervading.
It prompted a good discussion around diplomacy versus politics, profit versus morality and colonial attitudes.