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WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY NICHOLAS SHAKESPEARE In a provincial Argentinian community, Charley Fortnum – a British consul with dubious authority and a notorious fondness for drink – is kidnapped by rebels in a case of mistaken identity. Their intended victim, the young but world-weary Doctor Eduardo Plarr, is left to pick up the pieces and secure Fortnum’s release, wading thro WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY NICHOLAS SHAKESPEARE In a provincial Argentinian community, Charley Fortnum – a British consul with dubious authority and a notorious fondness for drink – is kidnapped by rebels in a case of mistaken identity. Their intended victim, the young but world-weary Doctor Eduardo Plarr, is left to pick up the pieces and secure Fortnum’s release, wading through a sea of incompetence and unearthing corruption among authorities and revolutionaries in the process. First published in 1973, The Honorary Consul was one of Greene’s own favourites of his works and is regarded as one of his finest novels, with Plarr perhaps the most moving and convincing figure in his fiction.


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WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY NICHOLAS SHAKESPEARE In a provincial Argentinian community, Charley Fortnum – a British consul with dubious authority and a notorious fondness for drink – is kidnapped by rebels in a case of mistaken identity. Their intended victim, the young but world-weary Doctor Eduardo Plarr, is left to pick up the pieces and secure Fortnum’s release, wading thro WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY NICHOLAS SHAKESPEARE In a provincial Argentinian community, Charley Fortnum – a British consul with dubious authority and a notorious fondness for drink – is kidnapped by rebels in a case of mistaken identity. Their intended victim, the young but world-weary Doctor Eduardo Plarr, is left to pick up the pieces and secure Fortnum’s release, wading through a sea of incompetence and unearthing corruption among authorities and revolutionaries in the process. First published in 1973, The Honorary Consul was one of Greene’s own favourites of his works and is regarded as one of his finest novels, with Plarr perhaps the most moving and convincing figure in his fiction.

30 review for The Honorary Consul (Vintage Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Honorary Consul, Graham Greene The Honorary Consul is a British thriller novel by Graham Greene, published in 1973. It was one of the author's own favourite works. The title is a reference to the diplomatic position known as an honorary consul. The story is set in the city of Corrientes, part of the Argentine Littoral, on the shore of the Paraná River. Eduardo Plarr is an unmarried medical doctor of English descent who when a boy left Paraguay with his mother to escape the political turmoil f The Honorary Consul, Graham Greene The Honorary Consul is a British thriller novel by Graham Greene, published in 1973. It was one of the author's own favourite works. The title is a reference to the diplomatic position known as an honorary consul. The story is set in the city of Corrientes, part of the Argentine Littoral, on the shore of the Paraná River. Eduardo Plarr is an unmarried medical doctor of English descent who when a boy left Paraguay with his mother to escape the political turmoil for Buenos Aires. His English father remained in Paraguay as a political rebel and aside from a single hand-delivered letter, they never hear from him again. .... تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز پانزدهم ماه جولای سال 1978 میلادی عنوان: کنسول افتخاری؛ نویسنده: گراهام گرین؛ مترجم: احمد میرعلایی؛ تهران، کتاب زمان، 1356؛ در 386 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، علم، 1385؛ در 402 ص؛ شابک: 9644056094؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان انگلیسی - سده 20 م داستان «ادواردو» یک پزشک انگلیسی است، که پدرش زندانی سیاسی در پاراگوئه هست. یکی از گروهکها با او تماس میگیرند و از او میخواهند تا در دزدیدن سفیر آمریکا، به آنها یاری کند، تا در قبال آزادی کنسول، بخواهند پدر او و دیگر زندانیان سیاسی را آزاد کنند. ادواردو میپذیرد اما افراد گروه به جای سفیر آمریکا ، کنسول افتخاری انگلیس، «چارلی» را که دوست ادواردو نیز هست، میدزدند . ... ا. شربیانی

  2. 4 out of 5

    Fabian

    Graham Greene has two bonafide/genuine masterpieces in "The Quiet American" & "The End of the Affair," but by all rights "The Honorary Consul" takes a very honorary place alongside "The Power and the Glory"; that is, lesser giants. It too is about these incredibly Hollywoodesque (or legends of) important people making choices & suffering the inevitable... In perfect prose, in lucid detail and exquisite, meaningful dialogue, "Consul" is intriguing and exciting at all times. The characters are ver Graham Greene has two bonafide/genuine masterpieces in "The Quiet American" & "The End of the Affair," but by all rights "The Honorary Consul" takes a very honorary place alongside "The Power and the Glory"; that is, lesser giants. It too is about these incredibly Hollywoodesque (or legends of) important people making choices & suffering the inevitable... In perfect prose, in lucid detail and exquisite, meaningful dialogue, "Consul" is intriguing and exciting at all times. The characters are very much alive, and their roles all exude pathos at diverse (and therefore interesting) levels. Greene is a total pleasure to read. That said, it may be the weakest novel of his (I've read) by far. "Brighton Rock" was way more unexpected, the aforementioned classic masterpieces ("Quiet" and "Affair") are complete and utterly, (devastatingly!!!!) hugely beautiful. "Power and the Glory" seems more magnificent--not as asphyxiated with themes of Catholic Church-bashing as this novel is (esp. at its concluding pages). Alas, "Consul" offers the best of Greene, though not THE VERY best of Greene. But as consolation, you pretty much always know that you can't go wrong going Greene.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    Description: In a provincial Argentinean town, Charley Fortnum, a British consul with dubious authority and a weakness for drink, is kidnapped by Paraguayan revolutionaries who have mistaken him for the American ambassador. Dr. Eduardo Plarr, a local physician with his own divided loyalties, serves as the negotiator between the rebels and the authorities. These fumbling characters play out an absurd drama of failure, hope, love, and betrayal against a backdrop of political chaos. The Honorary Co Description: In a provincial Argentinean town, Charley Fortnum, a British consul with dubious authority and a weakness for drink, is kidnapped by Paraguayan revolutionaries who have mistaken him for the American ambassador. Dr. Eduardo Plarr, a local physician with his own divided loyalties, serves as the negotiator between the rebels and the authorities. These fumbling characters play out an absurd drama of failure, hope, love, and betrayal against a backdrop of political chaos. The Honorary Consul is both a gripping novel of suspense and a penetrating psychological and sociological study of personal and political corruption. Wonderful read, especially after my last Greeneland episode of 'The Heart of the Matter', which I didn't enjoy very much at all. Lots to mull over with this one and it is good to have thought provoking issues on the menu. Fully recommended. 3* The Quiet American 4* The End of the Affair 3* The Power and the Glory 2* The Heart of the Matter 3* Our Man in Havana 4* Brighton Rock 3* The Third Man 4* Travels With My Aunt 4* The Human Factor TR The Comedians 4* A Burnt Out Case CR The Honorary Consul 3* A Gun for Sale TR Complete Short Stories 3* The Captain and the Enemy 2* The Man Within 4* Monsignor Quixote TR The Confidential Agent 4* The Ministry of Fear

  4. 4 out of 5

    James

    Sex, love, life, death, whiskey, Catholicism and South American politics – all familiar territory to Graham Greene – but ‘The Honorary Consul’ (1973) whilst revisiting and exploring all these themes, is by no means a re-tread or a recycling of previous Greene novels. The story this time is ostensibly centred around a bungled kidnapping attempt, all those whom it affects and its catastrophic aftermath. This is, as is more often than not the case with Green at his best – powerful and compelling. Wh Sex, love, life, death, whiskey, Catholicism and South American politics – all familiar territory to Graham Greene – but ‘The Honorary Consul’ (1973) whilst revisiting and exploring all these themes, is by no means a re-tread or a recycling of previous Greene novels. The story this time is ostensibly centred around a bungled kidnapping attempt, all those whom it affects and its catastrophic aftermath. This is, as is more often than not the case with Green at his best – powerful and compelling. Whilst not perhaps quite up there with classic Graham Greene (‘End of the Affair, Power and the Glory, Heart of the Matter’) it is very close. ‘The Honorary Consul’ is intriguing and compelling – the unrelenting tension builds throughout. Apparently this was one of Green’s favourite of his own novels, the reason being given as the way the characters change throughout the course of the story. There is a lot here about fathers of all types – both familial and religious and the long shadows that they can cast. There is also much here concerning political causes in the wider sense, in relation to the resultant moral and religious dilemmas at a personal level. Macro idealism vs reality at the Micro level. Graham Greene writes so very well, the best of his work is so accomplished, so well-constructed and paced throughout with well-drawn and thoroughly believable characters. As with Greene’s greatest novels, ‘Honorary Consul’ is imbued with a sense of reality and authenticity throughout – it is accessible whilst deeply meaningful – profound. This is a novel not to be missed and an important part of Graham Greene’s truly great literary canon.

  5. 5 out of 5

    John

    Over the last few months I have read several Graham Greene novels and once again another enjoyable read. I can see why this was Greene's favourite novel. The plot about kidnapping gone wrong draws you in to the comedic and tragic story. The betrayal, good versus evil, corruption, loneliness themes in a South American dictatorship is excellent. Dr Plarr is a weak character in his beliefs and Charley becomes the stronger one even though he is an alcoholic and corrupt. The God that is evil and good Over the last few months I have read several Graham Greene novels and once again another enjoyable read. I can see why this was Greene's favourite novel. The plot about kidnapping gone wrong draws you in to the comedic and tragic story. The betrayal, good versus evil, corruption, loneliness themes in a South American dictatorship is excellent. Dr Plarr is a weak character in his beliefs and Charley becomes the stronger one even though he is an alcoholic and corrupt. The God that is evil and good is a common theme in his books. An enjoyable and thought provoking read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    dianneOnRBG RIPmalaiseBreak

    “Life isn’t like that. Life isn’t noble or dignified. Even Latin-American life. Nothing is ineluctable. Life has surprises. Life is absurd. Because it’s absurd, there is always hope.” This story arises from the horrible seventies in South America. Dr. Eduardo Plarr, a Paraguayan exile? expat? refugee? is living in Argentina, having had to leave his English father in Asunción as a young boy, because of his father’s efforts to resist the reprehensible General Strossner - the vicious torturing dicta “Life isn’t like that. Life isn’t noble or dignified. Even Latin-American life. Nothing is ineluctable. Life has surprises. Life is absurd. Because it’s absurd, there is always hope.” This story arises from the horrible seventies in South America. Dr. Eduardo Plarr, a Paraguayan exile? expat? refugee? is living in Argentina, having had to leave his English father in Asunción as a young boy, because of his father’s efforts to resist the reprehensible General Strossner - the vicious torturing dictator supported by the USA - who ruled Paraguay from 1954 to 1989 - with uninterrupted repression and cruelty. A memory from Eduardo's childhood: “...he listened to the noise of keys which were turned and bolts which were pushed to -his father was making the house secure, but he was afraid all the same. Perhaps someone had been locked in who should have been locked out.” He finds himself in the Chaco - across the Parana river from Paraguay, firmly believing in his inability to believe in anything. “I have reached a premature old age when I can no longer mock a man for his beliefs, however absurd. I can only envy them.” He lives with dubious boundaries, balancing chauvinistic rationalization and self-loathing: “On the stairs...he tried to remember what that question of hers had been which he had never answered. It could not have been very important. The only questions of importance were those which a man asked himself.” Being questioned by police: “I have to think of all the possibilities, doctor. Even a crime of passion is possible.” “Passion?” the doctor smiled. “I am an Englishman.” “Yes, it is unlikely - I know that.” The characters are as only Greene could create - hilarious and heartbreaking, banal and so beautiful. Eduardo’s interactions with these folks, and his sardonic observations of them, are marvelous. Noting the poor furnishings of a fellow (not immediately terminal) Englishman: “...not the kind of surroundings in which anyone with free will - if such a man existed - would have chosen to await death.” Of the same man, who is cutting about a common acquaintance: “... he recognized the malice which remained alive and kicking in the old man long after discretion had died from a lifetime’s neglect.” Despite himself, Dr. Plarr gets involved in an action, a botched kidnapping, carried out by old compatriots of his from Paraguay, intended to free some political prisoners. Unfortunately, because the accidentally kidnapped person, the Honorary Consul, isn’t important to anyone, a happy outcome is doubtful. Being “honorary” carries its own issues: “I wish we had a simpler flag than the Union Jack. I hung it upside down once on the Queen’s birthday.” Smile. The kidnappers are full of courage, passion and righteous anger; their insights causing me to catch my breath: “...malnutrition is much safer for the rich than starvation. Starvation makes a man desperate. Malnutrition makes him too tired to raise a fist. The Americans understand that well... Our people do not starve - they wilt.” Another brilliant and memorable Graham Greene novel. He is simply unmatched in his explication of our hypocrisies, the governments we allow, and the stories we tell ourselves to live with our inaction in this savagely inequitable world.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shane

    I picked up a Graham Greene novel after a long time and it was pure nostalgia to be transported back to "Greeneland": usually a third-world country with a despotic government, with British expatriates forgotten by Her Majesty's Government, where the men are middle-aged, guilt-ridden and unable to love, men who have lost their faith in God and whose only outlets are the bottle or a prostitute. Where the search for redemption is their only remaining life force. Dr, Plarr is the central character, a I picked up a Graham Greene novel after a long time and it was pure nostalgia to be transported back to "Greeneland": usually a third-world country with a despotic government, with British expatriates forgotten by Her Majesty's Government, where the men are middle-aged, guilt-ridden and unable to love, men who have lost their faith in God and whose only outlets are the bottle or a prostitute. Where the search for redemption is their only remaining life force. Dr, Plarr is the central character, a British-Parguayan doctor who sleeps with his patients' wives but loves none of them. He is secretly loyal to the revolution in Paraguay, to which he lost his father, and lives in a border town on the Argentinian side, while his exiled mother overdoses on pastry and sugar in the affluent suburbs of Buenos Aires. Plarr's foil is Fortnum, the Honorary Counsel, a Brit forgotten by his government, consigned to this outpost out of convenience, a drunk and aging man who has fallen in love with his twenty-year old wife Clara, a former prostitute from the town's whorehouse. Clara has slept with every man in town, including Dr. Plarr. She is presently carrying Plarr’s baby although Fortnum is under the impression that it is his own. Revolutionaries from Paraguay flit over the border into Argentina in an attempt to kidnap the visiting US Ambassador, helped with some inside information from Plarr, but they capture Fortnum instead in a mixup. Thus starts the situation where Plarr is forced to save the man he hates and wishes dead. The pressure cooker plot corners the kidnappers, Plarr and Fortnum inside a shack in the barrio, surrounded by police who are determined to kill the perpetrators and rescue the Honorary Counsel. Fortnum and Plarr, and the kidnappers, are forced to face their mortality and come to terms with issues such as their belief in God, in love, and in justice. Often their conversations slump into becoming confessions. Now that I am an older reader of Greene and not in idealistic awe of his work anymore, I found some limitations in this book: the dialogue was excessive went in circles at times, and scenes inside the shack were claustrophobic and resembled debates on the existence of God - as if Greene was trying to come to terms with his own conflicted faith. The metaphors were striking -e.g. Plarr the flawed Christ-like figure, sacrificing himself to save a bunch of sinners. And while the male characters were well drawn, the women lacked the same depth. There were some interesting observations, or Greeneisms as I call them: 1) Writing is a cure for melancholy 2) There is a Great Church beyond our time and place, not the one on earth 3)God has good and evil inside Him, and so do we mortals Now that I have read most of Greene's "Catholic" novels as opposed to his earlier "entertainments", I am convinced that he used his later writing to come to terms with his personal estrangement with the Catholic Church, to expose its failings, while affirming his belief that he could still be a good Catholic outside of his Church.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lyn Elliott

    It’s a long time since I read any of Graham Greene’s work, the last being the glorious Travels with my Aunt which I read just before heading off on eight weeks of travel in Europe with my favourite aunt, and during which we encountered no smugglers, bandits, revolutionaries or political thugs, , though it was set partly in Latin America where Greene set The Honourary Consul and other works. Greene was such a great storyteller that he was able to write a gripping narrative while dealing with grea It’s a long time since I read any of Graham Greene’s work, the last being the glorious Travels with my Aunt which I read just before heading off on eight weeks of travel in Europe with my favourite aunt, and during which we encountered no smugglers, bandits, revolutionaries or political thugs, , though it was set partly in Latin America where Greene set The Honourary Consul and other works. Greene was such a great storyteller that he was able to write a gripping narrative while dealing with great themes of political repression; the effects of isolation (physical, social and emotional); political disillusionment and corruption; the existence (or not) of god and the possibility (or not) of love. He takes his time to set the scene and introduce his characters in their ‘torpid Argentinean city whose only visible cultural institution is the brothel’, and although there is in fact a great deal of action, he plays out the line of the story slowly, until the last 3 chapters when it seems as though inevitable execution of the mistakenly-kidnapped hostage is imminent. Once the inevitable death has happened, the emotional tone shifts from fear and resignation to sorrow and tenderness. Masterfully set up, masterly resolved. I can understand why it was on of Greene’s favourite works.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    One of his later novels (1973), it was better than I thought it would be. The same themes: love, betrayal, justice, and faith, with a newer one: machismo. Set in northern Argentina on the border with Paraguay, Dr Plarr, of an Argentine mother and British father, seems much older than his 30 years, world-weary. Not quite as intense as my favorite 4 (The Quiet American; The Heart of the Matter; A Burnt Out Case; The End of the Affair) but it's still Greene in top form and convincing. (Forget Bel Ca One of his later novels (1973), it was better than I thought it would be. The same themes: love, betrayal, justice, and faith, with a newer one: machismo. Set in northern Argentina on the border with Paraguay, Dr Plarr, of an Argentine mother and British father, seems much older than his 30 years, world-weary. Not quite as intense as my favorite 4 (The Quiet American; The Heart of the Matter; A Burnt Out Case; The End of the Affair) but it's still Greene in top form and convincing. (Forget Bel Canto, this kidnapping is much more real and compelling). There are some very funny parts about a mediocre novelist...but as usual, one comes to feel compassion for the characters, even the ones one was laughing at earlier...I love how Greene does that: deepens our understanding...just as Plarr comes to realize more about himself, and as a result, those around him.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Frank B

    An atheist doctor? A former priest with wavering faith? An exotic, isolated setting with whiskey sodden British expats? Check all these. In “The Honorary Consul” the local characters are as vivid as the expat Brits, something not always the case with Greene. (Although, I think he did a good job in his African novels of not assuming to know what the African characters were thinking.) Two of the three Englishmen here aren’t really expats at all. Born in Paraguay to a British father and local mothe An atheist doctor? A former priest with wavering faith? An exotic, isolated setting with whiskey sodden British expats? Check all these. In “The Honorary Consul” the local characters are as vivid as the expat Brits, something not always the case with Greene. (Although, I think he did a good job in his African novels of not assuming to know what the African characters were thinking.) Two of the three Englishmen here aren’t really expats at all. Born in Paraguay to a British father and local mother, Doctor Plarr is our atheist. Born in Argentina to British parents, Charlie Fortnam is the honorary British consul in a small town on the Paraná river in Northeast Argentina. The only other Brit in town is Doctor Humphries, a grumpy teacher of literature whose background we are not sure of, but he was probably born in England. I found it true even in the early 21st century that Anglo-Argentinians held fast to a 'colonial era' English accent and customs, like five o’clock gin and tonics, not maintained among British descendants in my part of the world. So the idea of a locally born Englishman not quite fitting in that Greene introduces rings true. The setting seems to be based on Formosa (I've got that wrong it was Corrientes a bit further south), capital of the oppressively hot Formosa province - a million miles away from the cosmopolitan capital Buenos Aires, where Doctor Plarr’s Paraguayan mother grows fat on dulce de leche. I don’t know how long Greene was in Argentina, the novel is dedicated to Victoria Ocampo, an Argentine writer he stayed with. He refers vaguely to the political troubles in Argentina in the early 70s, the period just before the return of Perón. (Quickly followed by his death, his wife taking over and the subsequent military dictatorship.) Over the Paraná river is Paraguay - under control of the American backed dictator, General Stroessner. In a muddle up Charlie gets kidnapped by Paraguayan rebels hoping for an exchange of prisoners; the American Ambassador was the real target. The British government isn’t eager to get involved, Charlie is a sixty year old ‘honorary’ consul and alcoholic - worse still he has recently married Clara, a young prostitute - not a becoming image at all. He lives by growing maté and importing cars and then selling them on - flaunting the diplomatic rights he doesn't actually have. The intellectual conversations at Clara’s (former) brothel between Plarr and local writer Doctor Saavedra are amusing - and Saavedra comes off as a joke, a man obsessed with machismo - until we see that he lives in poverty and Plarr gives him grudging respect for devoting his life to literature. Greene’s idea of Argentine machismo is accurate in its knife fights, but also seems mixed up with the Mexican version which is more pervasive than the Argentine one. The kidnappers are known to Plarr, who is involved because his British father is a political prisoner in Paraguay. Plarr lacks the faith and personal morality of the head kidnapper, his ex-classmate former priest Rivas, but is a doctor committed to the poor - he resembles Dr. Colin the atheist doctor treating lepers in Greene’s “A Burnt Out Case”. In both novels Greene seems to be debating with himself the merits of the man of faith and the practical man who tries to save lives rather than souls. The saving of souls is a much more tortuous business because it raises the possibility of personal damnation? The pace never drops off much in this book - it didn’t get bogged down in Catholic theology and moral debate (although there is certainly a sufficient amount of these). There is a fair deal of humour too. I was just in the right mood for this novel - so a subjective five stars.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cphe

    Plenty of reviews already for The Honorary Consul. A subdued, understated quality to the characters here. As usual with Greene, no winners on offer just an overall sense of loss.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    The Honorary Consul ranks with the best of Graham Greene's work. It takes me back to my teenage years, when I loved such of his works as The Power and the Glory and The Heart of the Matter. Greene cared a great deal about crises of faith. When I was young, I had none: I was a good Catholic boy. Then, later, things grew more complex. I love that moral complexity in Greene. This book is about a botched kidnapping. A mixed group of Paraguayan and Argentinian "terrorists" attempt to take the American The Honorary Consul ranks with the best of Graham Greene's work. It takes me back to my teenage years, when I loved such of his works as The Power and the Glory and The Heart of the Matter. Greene cared a great deal about crises of faith. When I was young, I had none: I was a good Catholic boy. Then, later, things grew more complex. I love that moral complexity in Greene. This book is about a botched kidnapping. A mixed group of Paraguayan and Argentinian "terrorists" attempt to take the American ambassador, but they get the Honorary British Consul, one Charley Fortnum, an elderly alcoholic who has married a skinny young prostitute out of the local brothel. The leader of the kidnappers is a lapsed priest, who has married. Yet no one lets him forget he once was a priest. The priest, Leon Rivas, has many of the best lines, as when he explains why he likes detective stories:Oh, there is a sort of comfort in reading a story where one knows what the end will be. The story of a dream world where justice is always done. There were no detective stories in the age of faith -- an interesting point when you think of it. God used to be the only detective when people believed in Him. He was law. He was order. He was good. Like your Sherlock Holmes. It was He who pursued the wicked man for punishment and discovered all. But now people like the General [Stroessner, dictator of Paraguay] make law and order. Electric shocks on the genitals. Aquino's [an accomplice] fingers. Keep the poor ill-fed, and they do not have the energy to revolt. I prefer the detective. I prefer God.The Honorary Consul is not like one of Rivas's detective novels: One does not know how it will end. Even though I had read the novel before (years ago), I was still surprised. I loved this book, and now I want to read more of Greene's work. That's the way it goes: Read a great book, and you never lack for other books to be read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    This was an exemplary read. Comedic indictments of the Latin ideal of machismo, kidnappers who are absolutely no good at kidnapping, the consistently volatile political situation of Latin American countries, the lonely emptiness of the ex-pat, and the utter worthlessness of one man's life when viewed through a Utilitarian framework: all of these themes find expression in Greene's Honorary Consul. This had been floating around in my to-be-read queue for a while and I have no regrets about bumping This was an exemplary read. Comedic indictments of the Latin ideal of machismo, kidnappers who are absolutely no good at kidnapping, the consistently volatile political situation of Latin American countries, the lonely emptiness of the ex-pat, and the utter worthlessness of one man's life when viewed through a Utilitarian framework: all of these themes find expression in Greene's Honorary Consul. This had been floating around in my to-be-read queue for a while and I have no regrets about bumping it to the top of my list. Greene was a master wordsmith and his characters are always, at the least, interesting constructions. The ability he has of writing characters that pursue two goals that are completely at odds with one another is flawless and with it he captures the often maddening complexity of even the most dull person. Humans are beautifully flawed and fascinating creatures and too often the challenge of expressing that is above the skills of most writers. Greene rightfully earned his place among the pantheon of literary giants.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC radio 4 - Drama :(31/01/2016) In a conversation with Nicholas Shakespeare, Graham Greene once named 'The Honorary Consul' as his favourite among all his novels, "..because the characters change and that is very difficult to do." In this superbly tense story of political kidnap and sexual betrayal set at the beginning of Argentina's Dirty War in early 1970s, Greene's characters find themselves on a switchback ride of love, sacrifice and violence. Isolated Dr Eduardo Plarr, son of a missing From BBC radio 4 - Drama :(31/01/2016) In a conversation with Nicholas Shakespeare, Graham Greene once named 'The Honorary Consul' as his favourite among all his novels, "..because the characters change and that is very difficult to do." In this superbly tense story of political kidnap and sexual betrayal set at the beginning of Argentina's Dirty War in early 1970s, Greene's characters find themselves on a switchback ride of love, sacrifice and violence. Isolated Dr Eduardo Plarr, son of a missing political prisoner, is lured into collaborating with a defrocked priest in a kidnap plot, only to find the lives of two people he doesn't care for, suddenly in his hands. Meanwhile Charles Fortnum, the elderly and drunken Honorary Consul in a one-horse town near the Paraguayan border, faces his own terrors, and the loss of the young prostitute he has fallen in love with. Greene added: "For me the sinner and the saint can meet; there is no discontinuity, no rupture... The basic element I admire in Christianity is its sense of moral failure. That is its very foundation. For once you're conscious of personal failure, then perhaps in future you become a little less fallible. In 'The Honorary Consul' I did suggest this idea, through the guerrilla priest, that God and the devil were actually one and the same person - God had a day-time and a night-time face, but that He evolved, as Christ tended to prove, towards His day-time face - absolute goodness - thanks to each positive act of men." In this concluding episode, Plarr's attempts to help Charley get him death threats from the police. Not only is the state closing in on Plarr, but his own past too. Produced and directed by Jonquil Panting. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06z1zf4 A movie was made based on this book: Beyond the Limit (1983) with Michael Caine, Richard Gere, Bob Hoskins. 3* The Third Man 4* The End of the Affair 4* Our Man in Havana 3* The Captain and the Enemy 3* The Quiet American 4* The Ministry of Fear 4* The Power and the Glory 4* TR The Honorary Consul TR Brighton Rock TR Travels With My Aunt TR The Tenth Man TR Monsignor Quixote TR The Heart of the Matter TR Orient Express

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    another fine novel by Greene -- more to come about this one.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Angst. Too much of it. Apparently angst bores me, whether it be Catholic angst, angst about being incapable of love, angst about being a failure or anything else this motley crew of idiots, incompetents, buffoons, alcoholics and pompous arses find to angst about. Which is a shame, because when the plot is advancing it's a fairly good story, though the plot turns on an imbecilic decision by one of the protagonists. There's a good, taut, 150p novel struggling to escape all the angst but ultimately Angst. Too much of it. Apparently angst bores me, whether it be Catholic angst, angst about being incapable of love, angst about being a failure or anything else this motley crew of idiots, incompetents, buffoons, alcoholics and pompous arses find to angst about. Which is a shame, because when the plot is advancing it's a fairly good story, though the plot turns on an imbecilic decision by one of the protagonists. There's a good, taut, 150p novel struggling to escape all the angst but ultimately drowning in it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    BrokenTune

    Review first posted on BookLikes: http://brokentune.booklikes.com/post/... "The God I believe in must be responsible for all the evil as well as for all the saints. He has to be a God made in our image with a night-side as well as a day-side." The Honorary Consul is somewhat heavier fare than Graham Greene's "entertainments". The justification of man's actions based on faith or based on the conflict created by the expectations of religious instruction and the reality of life features heavily in th Review first posted on BookLikes: http://brokentune.booklikes.com/post/... "The God I believe in must be responsible for all the evil as well as for all the saints. He has to be a God made in our image with a night-side as well as a day-side." The Honorary Consul is somewhat heavier fare than Graham Greene's "entertainments". The justification of man's actions based on faith or based on the conflict created by the expectations of religious instruction and the reality of life features heavily in this book. Charlie Fortnum is an elderly, worn out diplomat, a British Honorary Consul based in northern Argentina who has been largely forgotten by the Foreign Office until he becomes inadvertently entangled in a plot to kidnap the American ambassador. Unfortunately for Charlie, the kidnapping goes horribly wrong. Even more unfortunate, the Foreign Office don't like the idea of being reminded about Charlie. The only ones who do care about Charlie are his wife and his doctor - two by-standers. Except of course, that this is Greene-land where soon enough things turn out different from what they appear. (view spoiler)[ ‘It’s not how I intended things,’ Doctor Plarr repeated. He had no anger left with which to defend himself. ‘Nothing is ever what we intend. They didn’t mean to kidnap you. I didn’t mean to start the child. You would almost think there was a great joker somewhere who likes to give a twist to things. Perhaps the dark side of God has a sense of humour.’ ‘What dark side?’ ‘Some crazy notion of León’s. You should have heard that – not the things you did hear.’ (hide spoiler)] So, what we get in The Honorary Consul, is a tense thriller capturing the moral dilemma created by kidnapping and the desperate attempts of atonement by everyone involved. And all of it in Greene's very dark and ironic style: "Free Will was the excuse for everything. It was God’s alibi."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Smiley

    Regarded as one his own favorite works, this novel rightly categorized as a tragi-comedy as opposed to a spy novel in Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hon...) depicts an unmarried physician in his early thirties called Dr Eduardo Plaar (nicknamed Ted) who has lived in an Argentinian provincial town, Correintes. Interestingly, "The Honorary Consul" itself refers to Charles Fortnum, an alcoholic divorcee in his sixties; when I first browsed its title I misunderstood him as the sole pro Regarded as one his own favorite works, this novel rightly categorized as a tragi-comedy as opposed to a spy novel in Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hon...) depicts an unmarried physician in his early thirties called Dr Eduardo Plaar (nicknamed Ted) who has lived in an Argentinian provincial town, Correintes. Interestingly, "The Honorary Consul" itself refers to Charles Fortnum, an alcoholic divorcee in his sixties; when I first browsed its title I misunderstood him as the sole protagonist; however, the key protagonist should be Dr Plaar due to his life and role as a British descent who has left Paraguay with his Spanish mother for Buenos Aires (B.A.) and left his English-born father as a rebel there. In fact, Fortnum as an accidental hostage neither serves the Foreign Office nor holds any duty that involves intelligence of any kind; I think Greene might have used the title to be seemingly political-related, supported by a group of revolutionaries who have tried to kidnap the Ambassador and negotiations with the police done by Dr Plarr as an intermediary. When I first saw the book cover, I wondered on the involvement of the sunglasses till I have reached the scene when Dr Plarr meets Clara at Kruber's shop where he approaches her, talking with her for more intimate relationship and buys her a pair of flashy sunglasses in spite of his knowledge that she has already married to Fortnum. This is one of the first steps of his plan fatefully leading to his seduction with her consent; I don't think he has done out of his love, he might have done that due to his lingering obsession since he first casually saw her and noticed a small scar on her forehead at Senora Sanchez's house where she first worked as a lady of the night at sixteen. He recognizes her during his medical visit called by Mr Fortnum, her husband, due to her stomachache. Kidnapped by a group of revolutionaries headed by Father Leon Rivas, Fortnum and Dr Plarr have also talked heatedly on the doctor's seductive relation with 18-year-old Clara; the Consul seems submissive due to, probably, his advanced age and weaker character. Obviously, his wound forces him to lie in a coffin with little hope of rescue from the authority under the negotiation for the release via Dr Plarr with Colonel Perez till the 60-minute ultimatum is periodically counted down. As the agreed time is over, Dr Plarr steps out to meet the police and in a devastatingly horrible suspense he is shot in cold blood and liquidated, probably mistaken for Father Rivas. There is a point of my admiration on Greene's writing in his novels, short stories, memoirs, etc. is that very rarely I've encountered any unreadable foul language, instead I'd be delighted to read his quotable sentences or some words masterfully used; therefore, he has long been one of the honorable Oxonian authors whose texts are a delight to read in awe and respect. For instance: Patience and patients were words closely allied. (p. 95) If I have not asked you to come to see me it is only that I have been disgustingly well. (pp. 138-139) If he had known about it in time he would have stood by the graves and said a few words like Dr Saavedra, though he could not remember ever having made a speech in his life: all the same he could have found the courage in the heat of his indignation. (p. 257) To continue ...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Zoeb

    In 'The Honorary Consul', a bamboozled, even bogus honorary British diplomat in a languid Argentinian town is kidnapped accidentally by a band of desperate but equally befuddled rebels from across the Paraguayan border. Nobody cares whether the Consul lives or not which is why nobody takes these rebels' demands quite seriously as well. The situation is ripe for not just brittle suspense but also much cynical humour at the plight of these desperados and at the utter apathy of everyone else to the In 'The Honorary Consul', a bamboozled, even bogus honorary British diplomat in a languid Argentinian town is kidnapped accidentally by a band of desperate but equally befuddled rebels from across the Paraguayan border. Nobody cares whether the Consul lives or not which is why nobody takes these rebels' demands quite seriously as well. The situation is ripe for not just brittle suspense but also much cynical humour at the plight of these desperados and at the utter apathy of everyone else to the situation. But trust Greene, as he did also with 'A Gun For Sale', to pull off the rug beneath your feet. 'The Honorary Consul' is right up there among the greatest of his works (and that is something since nearly every novel by him reeks of subversive brilliance and everlasting prescience) because the writer takes this nimble thriller premise poised on a tightrope between hope and despair, redemption and damnation, and builds around it a heady, richly profound and thoughtful narrative populated by not merely characters on paper but people with flesh and blood, with faults and virtues, with demons and angels lurking together inside them. First of all, Doctor Eduardo Plarr, a half-Argentinian, half-English practioner, a cynical Casanova and clinically apathetic loner who craves and yearns for some purpose to his solitude, for some cause, even a failed one, to believe in. As he finds himself entangled, at first unwillingly and then voluntarily into the said botched-up kidnapping, he realizes that there is more at stake here than just a man's life. And thus, Greene, with the deftness of a Machiavellian puppet master, leads Plarr on a strange, unpredicted mission as he struggles to unearth the unexplored depths of pathos in his own dysfunctional self. Secondly, the rebels themselves are merely no heroic avengers pitted against the cruelty of the state or even villainous caricatures that any other novelist would have sketched carelessly. Rather, in Greene's practised, artistic hands, they become wonderfully believable people on the brink of despair, driven to extreme ends because of their own folly and also because of their unwavering belief in their cause that threatens to fizzle out when things turn magnificently disastrous towards the unpredictable coup de grace of the climax. They are capable of dignity and wisdom and they remain etched indelibly in the reader's mind in all their predicament and pathos and the profundity that they are capable of. In Clara, the former prostitute whom Charley Fortnum, the haplessly big-hearted titular Consul of the story, falls in love with and marries, Greene creates a heroine who is never secondary to the strange workings of the hearts and minds of the men around her. Her complex, illicit liason of lust with Dr. Plarr is one that is painfully poignant with how deprived of real love it feels and yet as the relationships shared between each character flourish with each turn of the narrative, Greene lends her a distinct voice, as distinct and worthy of empathy and feeling as the one that he brings to his other characters, even to the devilishly quick-thinking Colonel Perez whose bloodhound-like hunt for the kidnappers demonstrates his diligent, even ruthless, belief in his duty. But then, 'The Honorary Consul' is about belief and the ends to which men will go for it. Machismo, that Latin word for 'masculine pride' is what drives these men on their doomed and desperate quests, from Plarr's increasingly weary but dogged efforts to do something for Fortnum, out of a misplaced sense of guilt, to the kidnappers themselves who will resort to extreme measures for honour. Greene deconstructs the naivete of the concept of machismo as deftly as he jabs at the 'stiff upper lip' of the English characters involved, the casual and callous indifference with which the British diplomats ignore the natural importance to save Fortnum and even the resigned way in which the said Consul tries to accept his ill-fated denouement clearly in sight. Then, it is also about believing in God, in God's goodness and generosity especially when the world seems to be brimming with injustice and unfairness, at the audacious possibility of divine intervention, a moment of deus ex machina that should come when things really get worse. And as usual, all these arguments and conundrums are woven elegantly by Greene into the larger geopolitical canvas of South America, a continent reeling under despotic dictators and ruthlessly systematic impoverishment. Like 'The Heart Of The Matter', we sense the unmistakable sights, sounds and smells of a place at a particular time in the narrative of history but like 'The Quiet American', the prophet-like prescience of Greene's laments are everlasting and affirmed by the contemporary events that would happen in the aftermath of these novels. There are also sly and pointed digs at American political complicity with the tyrannical dictators who reigned ruthlessly in these beautiful uncharted lands in the 20th century, from the unmistakable presence of CIA only on the periphery of the events to the bold, provocative implication that American aid was never provided adequately enough to the impoverished masses of these countries. This is Greene operating at the peak of his storytelling powers with incredible, pitch-perfect finesse. And then, there is the Consul himself. Charley Fortnum, like the many unforgettably flawed yet endearing second protagonists that Greene is known for, is possibly the book's indisputed hero, a man with a helpless weakness for his proper measure of Long John and comes across, despite his age, as a hapless romantic and idealist but that is what makes him so compelling for the reader, almost an empathetic and even chivalrous character out of the stories of Dickens and Stevenson, whose voice, of melancholy, self-pity, hope and even heartbreaking resignation, is full of poignancy and exquisite sadness. We root for a moment of release for this man and it is up to the reader to discover hungrily whether Greene will reward him it or not. 'The Honorary Consul' is a beautiful, beautiful book. A flawlessly constructed thriller, a tragi-comic dissection of masculine pride and vainglorious heroism, a devastatingly astute portrait of the real depths of South America's impoverishment, an intricate puzzle of moral and metaphysical conflict and a rousing meditation on the power of faith to move mountains, it is just unarguably brilliant and deserves to be lauded and loved on the same level as other Greene masterpieces. Discover it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cbj

    An intense kidnap thriller filled with religious despair, South American machismo, tangled love triangles and lots of whiskey. A bunch of revolutionaries kidnap the hard drinking Charley Fortnum (who is Britain's Honorary Consul in Argentina), mistaking him for the British ambassador. His friend and ex-prostitute wife's lover Dr. Eduardo Plarr (who is half English-half Argentinian) sets out to rescue him from the clutches of the kidnappers. Some of the kidnappers used to be Dr.Plarr's friends an An intense kidnap thriller filled with religious despair, South American machismo, tangled love triangles and lots of whiskey. A bunch of revolutionaries kidnap the hard drinking Charley Fortnum (who is Britain's Honorary Consul in Argentina), mistaking him for the British ambassador. His friend and ex-prostitute wife's lover Dr. Eduardo Plarr (who is half English-half Argentinian) sets out to rescue him from the clutches of the kidnappers. Some of the kidnappers used to be Dr.Plarr's friends and Plarr is at the center of the kidnap drama when the kidnappers lure him using his missing father who was also a revolutionary. Catholic guilt is one of the central themes of the novel. The head of the revolutionary kidnappers is an ex-priest and he becomes conflicted at the prospect of having to murder Fortnum when he realizes that British and Argentinian authorities have no interest in negotiating the release of a honorary consul. The latter half of the novel is filled with long discussions between the kidnappers, Fortnum and Plarr about Christinaity, sin and forgiveness. It does get a bit long-winded and funny after a while. South American machismo as represented by the revolutionaries and a writer called Dr.Savendra (he writes novels filled with revenge and male characters who lay down their lives to protect their manhood) is compared to the British characters who are all self-pitying, alcoholic and in a state of retreat. Graham Greene's novels almost always feature intense love triangles and even quadrangles that are supposed to represent power struggles between various nationalities and ideologies. The Honorary Consul is no different. In The Quiet American, an ageing British journalist and a young American CIA agent covet a Vietnamese prostitute. Here, Dr. Plarr covets Clara, Fortnum's wife who used to be a prostitute. In both novels, it is the British character who is ageing and not sure about his future. I guess they are supposed to represent waning British control of the world. Alcohol is an important part of all of Greene's novels. These characters who look with fear and despair at the future have no other crutch except alcohol. I have often felt like pouring a few drinks while reading Greene novels. Alcohol is more like Greene's fantasy rather than social commentary. This was a very entertaining novel for the most part. If only Greene had cut down a little on the long religious discussions during the kidnap drama, it would have been a better novel.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Moses Kilolo

    I haven't read any other of Graham Green's work. It is funny that I should have started with this, which is referred to as one his later works. I had mixed feelings from the start. For one, I was excited about reading Green. And, I was drawn back by my own limited understanding of his style, though delicate and touching. Enter Plarr, aged and a doctor of patients he f***s. And the rest of the bunch who orchestrate a kidnapping. Need not be said they know nothing about professional kidnapping. No I haven't read any other of Graham Green's work. It is funny that I should have started with this, which is referred to as one his later works. I had mixed feelings from the start. For one, I was excited about reading Green. And, I was drawn back by my own limited understanding of his style, though delicate and touching. Enter Plarr, aged and a doctor of patients he f***s. And the rest of the bunch who orchestrate a kidnapping. Need not be said they know nothing about professional kidnapping. Not only are they inadequate in the way they deal, but they pick up the wrong man. Worse still it is their friend. The same man they've been to at Senora Sanchez with and bought pleasure from the girls there, sitting around to talk their little British group in Argentina. Its From this same dungeon where Fortnum, the kidnapped honorary consul picks up his wife, who would later lie and betray his loyal love. But its interesting to note that the characters, especially the male ones, are well drawn. Maybe one or two of the female characters stand out, while the rest are quite obscure. But then this could have been Green attempt and furthering the theme of Machismo?! Overall comment? Good Book. I look forward to finding, and reading; The Power and the Glory. And then, maybe then, I'll be his fun.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    A very typical Graham Greene-novel with all the classic dilemma's the protagonists (with them again a former priest) are confronted with: what is right or wrong? Is there a loving God? What is the meaning of life?. The setting is the north of Argentina and the story revolves around the abduction - by mistake - of a British honorary consul. Even more than in other Greene-novels there are quite a lot of very cynical protagonists, but as always they appear to have their weak sides in time of need. A very typical Graham Greene-novel with all the classic dilemma's the protagonists (with them again a former priest) are confronted with: what is right or wrong? Is there a loving God? What is the meaning of life?. The setting is the north of Argentina and the story revolves around the abduction - by mistake - of a British honorary consul. Even more than in other Greene-novels there are quite a lot of very cynical protagonists, but as always they appear to have their weak sides in time of need. Not his greatest novel, but nice. (2.5 stars)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor

    As always with Greene, beautifully spare language and an agonising disaster made of several lives because of ideology, belief or lack of it, guilt, machismo, and over all, a lack of love passed on from one generation to the next. Brilliant and almost unbearable to read as the characters blunder ever deeper into the mire.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Justin Evans

    Gabriel Josipovici, in his 'Whatever Happened to Modernism?', slams Greene and most other post-war British writers; he says, I think, only Muriel Spark and someone else are top-rate. He bases this on his own, personal belief that the best writing is self-reflexive. Well, obviously he didn't read 'The Honorary Consul.' Aside from being a great story - up there with my favorite Greenes, Heart of the Matter, Power and Glory, Quiet American, Our Man in Havana - this one's also full of questioning an Gabriel Josipovici, in his 'Whatever Happened to Modernism?', slams Greene and most other post-war British writers; he says, I think, only Muriel Spark and someone else are top-rate. He bases this on his own, personal belief that the best writing is self-reflexive. Well, obviously he didn't read 'The Honorary Consul.' Aside from being a great story - up there with my favorite Greenes, Heart of the Matter, Power and Glory, Quiet American, Our Man in Havana - this one's also full of questioning and self-doubt about the role of literature in the world, the kind of writing one should do if one is going to be a writer, the relation between literature, politics and religion, and so on. There's also plenty of room for autobiographical allusion: Greene seems to be asking himself whether he'd achieved anything, really, by his life's works. Admittedly, it doesn't manage this by making any wild stylistic or formal experiments. It's just that the characters, aside from the 'innocently' by-standing main man, are: a novelist, a prostitute, an 'ex-'priest and his 'wife', a poet/revolutionary, and a bunch of really, really poor and oppressed villagers. And, as you'd expect from a serious Greene novel, they're all complex and interesting and both sympathetic and utterly repulsive- you know, like people. You could easily teach this to a high school student, asking her which is the best life? While also helping her to think about how hard it is to answer a question like that. So it's all intellectually stimulating, and well written and that sort of thing. The only flaw is that towards the end it suddenly becomes a second rate Dostoevsky novel: all long, looping, repetitive, completely unbelievable dialogue about God, politics and life. I wouldn't mind this in general, but the novel's really twenty or thirty pages too long. That this is my only complaint is some pretty good evidence, though, that the thing's well worth reading.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Blaine DeSantis

    Good book by Greene. I could easily see this being made into a stage play. We deal with the mistaken kidnapping of an Honorary Consul, when the real target is the US Ambassador. Kidnappers want to exchange him for 10 of their kind held in Paraguayan prison. Interesting day by day timeline with lot of religious theology and backstories about the characters. I did not feel a lot of connection with the characters, as it appears that they exist only to espouse certain philosophical views. But it is Good book by Greene. I could easily see this being made into a stage play. We deal with the mistaken kidnapping of an Honorary Consul, when the real target is the US Ambassador. Kidnappers want to exchange him for 10 of their kind held in Paraguayan prison. Interesting day by day timeline with lot of religious theology and backstories about the characters. I did not feel a lot of connection with the characters, as it appears that they exist only to espouse certain philosophical views. But it is well written, the dialogue is good. The prose gets a bit bogged down but the entire book is based upon this case of mistaken identity in the kidnapping of the wrong person.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Roger Brunyate

      Not the Best, but Indubitably Greene Doctor Eduardo Plarr stood in the small port on the Paraná, among the rails and yellow cranes, watching where a horizontal plume of smoke stretched over the Chaco. It lay between the red bars of the sunset like a stripe on a national flag. Doctor Plarr found himself alone at that hour except for the one sailor who was on guard outside the maritime building. It was an evening which, by some combination of failing light and the smell of an unrecognized plant   Not the Best, but Indubitably Greene Doctor Eduardo Plarr stood in the small port on the Paraná, among the rails and yellow cranes, watching where a horizontal plume of smoke stretched over the Chaco. It lay between the red bars of the sunset like a stripe on a national flag. Doctor Plarr found himself alone at that hour except for the one sailor who was on guard outside the maritime building. It was an evening which, by some combination of failing light and the smell of an unrecognized plant, brings back to some men the sense of childhood and of future hope and to others the sense of something which has been lost and nearly forgotten. Who else but Graham Greene? The sense of world-weariness in that opening is palpable. So long as you don't analyze it too closely; the images seem both too forced and too imprecise to trigger that response, yet the emotion still strikes a chord. The Honorary Consul is one of Graham Greene's later works, and far from his best; nonetheless, it has all the master's fingerprints. The distant setting: here a city (probably Rosarios) in Northern Argentina, across the river from Paraguay. The eternal expatriates: Doctor Plarr is the son of an English father and a Paraguayan mother, a citizen of a country he has never seen. The background of a political thriller: the plot concerns the attempt of a group of Paraguayan freedom fighters to kidnap an American Ambassador for use as leverage against the right-wing dictator General Stroessner. And Greene's typical fascination with Catholicism. The plot fails, because the kidnappers take the Honorary British Consul by mistake, a harmless old alcoholic called Charley Fortnum, who probably has never set foot in England either. The leader of the group, León, is a former priest who has abandoned his calling and married. In the second half of the book, it works out that both Charley Fortnum and Eduardo Plarr are his prisoners, inside a hut in a poor quarter. With the police closing in, and death of one sort or another seeming increasingly inevitable, it is no surprise that their thoughts should turn to the last things. There must be fifty pages of theological discussion between the defrocked priest, the agnostic Plarr, and the atheist but surprisingly perceptive Fortnum. This will bore some readers, but fascinate dyed-in-the-wool Greenies. One technical aspect of the book that somewhat interested me was the way in which Charley Fortnum, who seems to be a minor character despite his title billing, gradually gathers substance through what others say about him. Then there is one chapter in which he suddenly emerges into the light, so that you wonder whether he, not Plarr, is in fact the leading character after all. But I soon came to see this as a weakness, because it became hard to keep a clear focus. In Greene's theology, the most interesting character should have been León, the ex-priest who can never be entirely ex. Doctor Plarr, the person we know most about, turns out to be hard to know after all. And old Charley Fortnum, treated almost as a comic character at first, seems the closest to reaching a genuine state of spiritual grace. Normally, we wait for Greene to pull out a brilliant ending which will pull the threads together in an action climax that is an epiphany at the same time. You can see it coming as the police close in, and the discussion inside the hut moves from theological to pragmatic. But the actual events of the climax are so confused that I had to read the relevant pages twice. And I still had no sure idea of who did what to whom, even after reading the postmortem in the final chapter. So no Greene epiphany—and without that, the Greene mechanics and Greene atmosphere are pretty empty. Unless you're a real fan.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    This book doesn’t seem to have much of reputation as some of Greene’s other works, which is too bad as it is excellent and even brilliant. In fact it might be one of my favorites. This has every element I look for in a Greene novel but with a stronger emotional charge. The characters with their foibles seem to be a cast for a comedy but instead are players in a heart wrenching tragedy. Like in his Comedians the line between slit your wrist despair and humor is very hard to find though the sadnes This book doesn’t seem to have much of reputation as some of Greene’s other works, which is too bad as it is excellent and even brilliant. In fact it might be one of my favorites. This has every element I look for in a Greene novel but with a stronger emotional charge. The characters with their foibles seem to be a cast for a comedy but instead are players in a heart wrenching tragedy. Like in his Comedians the line between slit your wrist despair and humor is very hard to find though the sadness lingers. This is one of the prominent themes along with a critique of machismo in Argentinean culture, parody of the detective novel, and the place of religion in the blood drenched politics of the 20th century. Like Harold Bloom who refuses religion on the basis of Concentration Camps and Schizophrenia, Greene’s characters ponder whether we are living in the “night side” of God. How could a just God witness the world we live in? This book also examples Greene’s incredible political foresight, as this was published three years before Argentina’s horrible “dirty war” but predicts nearly every element of it. Plus one of the characters reads Borges.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Peter Beck

    You know you are dealing with a brilliant writer when his 13th most popular novel blows you away. Like “Our Man in Havana,” “The Honorary Consul” focuses on two underwhelming expats in a Latin American country who are sucked into overwhelming situations. “Havana” is one of Green’s “Entertainments,” but I found just as many laugh out loud funny passages in “Honorary.” At the same time, “Honorary” plumbs the depths of the human experience even more than “The End of the Affair.” What does it mean t You know you are dealing with a brilliant writer when his 13th most popular novel blows you away. Like “Our Man in Havana,” “The Honorary Consul” focuses on two underwhelming expats in a Latin American country who are sucked into overwhelming situations. “Havana” is one of Green’s “Entertainments,” but I found just as many laugh out loud funny passages in “Honorary.” At the same time, “Honorary” plumbs the depths of the human experience even more than “The End of the Affair.” What does it mean to love someone? How can we know God exists? My favorite passage? The protagonist, Dr. Plarr observes, “I have reached a premature old age when I can no longer mock a man for his beliefs, however absurd. I can only envy them” (p. 260). Green also forces us to confront moral ambiguity. I challenge you to tell me who are the “good guys” and the “bad guys” in this wonderful story. I am having trouble deciding what Greene to read next!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

    There's also a priest here. He giggled too, but only once. I had written before, elsewhere here at goodreads, that I hated "The Power and the Glory" where I found the priest there quite ridiculous. I likewise didn't like "The End of the Affair", finding the characters there unreal. This one, however, is different. I thought, while reading it, and after reading it: "this is how a story should be told." Highly imaginative plot with a lot of possible logical endings but where no one can possibly mak There's also a priest here. He giggled too, but only once. I had written before, elsewhere here at goodreads, that I hated "The Power and the Glory" where I found the priest there quite ridiculous. I likewise didn't like "The End of the Affair", finding the characters there unreal. This one, however, is different. I thought, while reading it, and after reading it: "this is how a story should be told." Highly imaginative plot with a lot of possible logical endings but where no one can possibly make a correct prediction of. Crisp dialogues, every word with meaning, nothing put to waste. Words and statements drop like little bombs, shocking the reader and keeping him awake, fragments shattering inside his skull with a kaleidoscope of bright colors. I am now in awe of this grand master of storytellers.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karn Kher

    Amongst the better works by Greene. A thriller set in Argentina with dash of theology and Greene's soothing/likeable narration makes this book a good read. Does not move you to tears and doesn't make you laugh out loud but does make you turn pages without giving in to cheap thrills as good books should.

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