The Constant Gardener

Firstly, I would like to tell you the story of how I came about this book!

I have been in France for the past two weeks for a relaxing break in the sun. I had packed only four books… I should have known that that wouldn’t have been enough! I had five days left on my holiday without a book – I couldn’t survive.

I went on the internet to find a book store that would sell english books and came across Camili Books & Tea in Avignon. It’s a second hand bookstore FULL of english books! There were two bookshelves filled with thrillers, so I was very happy.

I’m not really sure why I picked this book, I have a feeling it was more to do with the quality of the physical book; i.e. other than discolouration to the pages, it was pretty much intact, because I have never been pulled to le Carré’s books before. I have watched the movie: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – and decided it was far too espionage for me!

Nevertheless – this was the book I picked and this was the book that kept me sane for my final few days of my holiday.

It’s set in Nairobi and a wife of the British High Commission has been murdered. The death of Tessa shakes many, she had an impact on her husband’s colleagues for her looks and, an impact on the locals for her ability to help others. So why had she been killed? It seems Tessa had discovered something going on at the hospitals and local villages that involves a large corporation… and it’s NOT good.

Her husband; Justin, had been oblivious to the work and deception his wife had uncovered. Devastated by Tessa’s death, he becomes obsessed with finding out the truth. Why had she been killed? What was the secret? and finally – Who could he trust? The final question is key – after discovering his wife had shared her intelligence with people within his office, he believes ‘one of his own’ is behind it all… or at least helping to cover it up.

It took me a while to get into this story because the writing style is completely different to the books I currently read. Written in 2000 – 17 years ago – the style is more classical, what I mean by this, is there wasn’t any slang words, the sentences were long and descriptive – it was a stark contrast to the modern style writing I see today.

I felt like this was a slow burner book, at times it was easy to just fold the page and come back to it a few hours later without having withdrawal symptoms, BUT nevertheless it did hook me. The plot was complex and written from multiple perspectives (although mainly Justin’s). The corruption seemed to be in every direction and I was satisfied when Justin finally found the one person he could point the finger at.

It was also an emotional read, a grieving husband finding out the truth of his wife’s death all on his own; whilst people tried to bully him, abuse him and attempt to kill him – Justin’s determination was admirable.

This is by no means a ‘light’ read, it is full of powerful questions and explores the dark side of unbridled capitalism. I enjoyed it… but i’m not sure if I will be reaching for another of le Carré’s books any time soon.

Any of my readers a fan of le Carré’s work?

Until next time, Chloé x




  1. I’m not a Le Carre fan myself, but I did read this on a plane a few years ago because there was nothing else and it was before I had my Kindle. What stood out to me the most was his falling in love with her after the fact – it was like the woman he married and knew day-to-day was just a stranger and the woman she turned out to be was this amazing person. Sad, in a way. A good and lengthy read. Thanks for the review.


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