The Constant Gardener: A Novel
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Frightening, heartbreaking, and exquisitely calibrated, John le Carre's new novel opens with the gruesome murder of the young and beautiful Tessa Quayle near northern Kenya's Lake Turkana, the birthplace of mankind. Her putative African lover and traveling companion, a doctor with one of the aid agencies, has vanished from the scene of the crime. Tessa's much older husband, Justin, a career diplomat at the British High Commission in Nairobi, sets out on a personal odyssey in pursuit of the killers and their motive. A master chronicler of the deceptions and betrayals of ordinary people caught in political conflict, le Carre portrays, in "The Constant Gardener," the dark side of unbridled capitalism. His eighteenth novel is also the profoundly moving story of a man whom tragedy elevates. Justin Quayle, amateur gardener and ineffectual bureaucrat, seemingly oblivious to his wife's cause, discovers his own resources and the extraordinary courage of the woman he barely had time to love. "The Constant Gardener" is a magnificent exploration of the new world order by one of the most compelling and elegant storytellers of our time.
contribute to that discussion, dear, because she didn’t. Tessa did not contribute to that discussion. I can say that with certainty.” “Did Arnold?” “No.” “Not even read a paper or anything?” “Nothing at all, darling. Neither of them.” “You mean they just sat there, silent? Both of them? It’s not like Tessa to keep quiet. Nor Arnold for that matter. How long did the course last?” “Five days. But Tessa and Arnold didn’t stay in Loki five days. Not many people do. Everyone who comes here likes
her—if in a piecemeal form, but that couldn’t be avoided. And now, it seemed, he was about to share with her the last of all her secrets. A second truck had pulled up behind the first. He heard light footsteps and made out the fast-moving shapes of fit men in bulky clothes crouching at the run. He heard a man or woman whistle and an answering whistle from behind him. He imagined, and perhaps it was true, that he caught a whiff of Sportsman cigarette smoke. The darkness grew suddenly deeper as
was to refuse to recognise that anything was amiss. He applied this lesson now as, in curt sentences, he gave a minimalist’s rendering of the scene in the hospital ward. Yes, he agreed—mildly surprised that they should be so interested in the minutiae of Tessa’s confinement—he distantly remembered that a fellow patient of Tessa’s was asleep or comatose. And that since she was not able to feed her own baby, Tessa was acting as the child’s wet-nurse. Tessa’s loss was the child’s gain. “Did the
himself had left for the High Commission and Justin was hovering in the dining room wearing his suit and tie and wanting flowers. Not flowers from Gloria’s garden, but his own. He wanted the yellow scenting freesias he grew for her all year round, he said, and always had waiting for her in the living room when she came back from her field trips. He wanted two dozen of them at the least for Tessa’s coffin. Gloria’s deliberations on how best to obtain these were interrupted by a confused call from
ask, if you’re a Third World country. You have to take what you’re given. Q. Was it Dypraxa? A. (unintelligible) Q. Ghita, calm down please and just tell us. What’s the drug called, what’s it for and who makes it? A. Africa’s got eighty-five per cent of the world’s Aids cases, did you know that? How many of those have access to medication? One per cent! It’s not a human problem any more! It’s an economic one! The men can’t work. The women can’t work! It’s a heterosexual disease, which is why