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 Opening discussion questions

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K.E. Jones
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PostSubject: Opening discussion questions   Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:56 pm

Okay! Let's go!




Now that I've taken a few deep breaths and my initial panic over how to do this bloody leadership thing has subsided, I'm going to throw some questions out there for potential discussion, and throw out an idea of how, structurally, we should proceed.

In no particular order:

1. Was anybody else surprised at the humor in this thing? Not that it was a comedy, by any means, but I found a certain wry humor, particularly in the early parts, and particularly in describing Gail's viewpoint of any number of things.

2. I'm still not sure how money laundering on this scale works. Anybody want to address that?

3. Did you notice Le Carré (finally figured out how to add that symbol! woot!) never really told us how long the family was stuck in the house in Switzerland? He did a great job of of letting us see the stress the older members of the party were under, and how it seemed to last foooorevvvvver, but how long was it, really? Was it really that much longer than Hector had originally said it would be? Or was Le Carré only trying to let us get inside everybody's heads without caring about anchoring it to an actual timeframe?

4. Don't you love Gail? I mean, really! Though I did think the author kind of fetishized her when the entire book is taken into account.

5. A big reason I wanted us to read this book is because the ending just haunted me for days after I finished it the first time. I kept worrying about what was going to happen to the family left behind, and kept coming up with ridiculous scenarios for Dima and Luke walking away from the crash. I actually had to tell myself these are fictional characters, and nobody died or was in danger in real life! What do you think?

6. I also, though to a lesser degree, wondered about Perry and Gail's future. In terms of spycraft, I think they actually did quite a good job for rank beginners. Might they continue in that line? I didn't have any doubts about their future as a couple until I started writing this post. Do you? Might whatever is going on with the Dima children at this point have something to do with it?

7. I really wasn't thinking of current events when I proposed this book, but now I can't think of the book without at least glancingly considering current events. Anybody want to take this up? Or is it better left like a snakehead fish flopping on the fishing pier?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

All of the above are intended, at most, as conversation starters and I know there are many, more profound things, to say. Answer them, don't answer them...I'm not emotionally invested. But, if you do want to answer them, or--even better--start a conversation based on your own ideas, here's how I propose we proceed:

I've put something in the main page about How to Post that goes into more detail--it started out with way too much detail, and I hope it's more understandable now--but I suggest that if you want to start a conversation about...well, anything...in the book we're discussing, you hit the "New Topic" button under this month's book thread and go from there. Then we can all post replies, etc. about that particular, specific subject. (Examples: If you want to address question six here, you make sure you're in the "December 2017 - Our Kind of Traitor" thread--it'll say in the upper left hand corner of the page--and give it a title like, "Gail and Perry's Future." If you, or somebody else, want's to say something like, "Personally, I hated Gail" and talk back-and-forth about that instead of Gail and Perry's future, you do the same thing, but with a title along the line of "Gail Sux." Conversations on topics can go from there. I fully expect there to be confusion at first, and possibly for all time, about who's talking to whom about what, but we'll work it out. I also fully expect conversations to meander off-topic, but it's probably best if we at least bear topicality in mind, even if we can't absolutely stick to it. If you have questions, that's what the thread "So how do we post on this thing, anyway?" on the front page is for.
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ddbuck
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PostSubject: Re: Opening discussion questions   Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:13 am

Damn..I have to retread the book. I seriously did not take much away from it. That's what I get for reading quickly.
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K.E. Jones
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PostSubject: Re: Opening discussion questions   Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:50 pm

ddbuck wrote:
Damn..I have to retread the book.  I seriously did not take much away from it. That's what I get for reading quickly.

To be honest, I found it to be less substantial on my re-read than I remembered it to be. It was those memories that made me propose it in the first place.
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KellyMc
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PostSubject: Re: Opening discussion questions   Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:03 pm

Kathy- awesome questions. I agree with all of them. EVEN though my initial response (see me on GoodReads) was [Well, I may read another le Carre, but unless I like his ending better, I will only read TWO of his books. I was really annoyed at the ending. All those characters...and we find out what happens to TWO of them. They DIED. What about everybody else?
I could say more.
A pretty good read, but I want to know what happens next.]
1. I didn't find it particularly humorous, even wryly, most of the time. But I did find the internal dialogue funny several times. Thank goodness what we think doesn't usually come out of our mouths!
My first thought was the book is dated, then realized it wasn't THAT old or set too long ago.
2. Me neither on money laundering; I think I'm grateful. I did understand about the black hotels. I do not have a criminal or devious mind....
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K.E. Jones
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PostSubject: Re: Opening discussion questions   Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:27 pm

KellyMc wrote:
Kathy- awesome questions. I agree with all of them. EVEN though my initial response (see me on GoodReads) was [Well, I may read another le Carre, but unless I like his ending better, I will only read TWO of his books.  I was really annoyed at the ending. All those characters...and we find out what happens to TWO of them. They DIED.  What about everybody else?
I could say more.
A pretty good read, but I want to know what happens next.]
1. I didn't find it particularly humorous, even wryly, most of the time. But I did find the internal dialogue funny several times. Thank goodness what we think doesn't usually come out of our mouths!
My first thought was the book is dated, then realized it wasn't THAT old or set too long ago.
2. Me neither on money laundering; I think I'm grateful. I did understand about the black hotels. I do not have a criminal or devious mind....

That's what's haunted me: what happened to everybody else? I kind of like that La Carre (and I'm giving up on the diacritical; so sue me) didn't tell us, but I'm still kind of haunted by it.

Though wasn't Perry in a position to witness the crash? Which means he was also in a position to let Hector and Ollie know immediately what had happened, so precautionary measures could be taken. And I seem to remember a few times, mostly late in the book, where the POV shifted to the vague future--something like "When they talked about this later...." implying that at least Perry and Gail came out of it alright if they lived long enough to talk about it in retrospect.

I kind of had the opposite impression than (from?) you about the dating. I remembered it as being published more recently than it was, and started reading wondering how dated it might turn out to be, considering I still thought of it as fresh. I think it was alright--a few specifics to remind you it was written in 2010 instead of last year, but otherwise...I can't say "timeless," because I do think it will be out of date before too long, but...vaguely current.

By the way, did you know there's a movie version? It came out in 2016. Kind a "usual suspects" cast: Ewan McGregor, Damien Lewis, Stellan Skarsgard....
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lizannmc@gmail.com
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PostSubject: Re: Opening discussion questions   Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:35 am

Yippee! I got in!
First Le Carr book I have ever read. I am more of a nonfiction book kind of girl but book clubs are about broadening one's literary horizons so this is good for me.

I had to brush up on British colloquial speech and I learned a new word or two.

I found the frequent segues to the character backstories hard to follow at times but I enjoyed the descriptions of foreign locations. The ending left me nonplussed. I could almost hear Le Carr saying something like," Well, well, Enough of that. I really must end this book in the next 5 pages."

So what happened to his family? Speculation?

What about the poor pilot pawns?

I thought the way Gail became quickly attached to to the girls a little unrealistic. Anyone else?


I would like to see the movie.


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PostSubject: Re: Opening discussion questions   Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:35 pm

lizannmc@gmail.com wrote:
Yippee! I got in!
First Le Carr book I have ever read. I am more of a nonfiction book kind of girl but book clubs are about broadening one's literary horizons so this is good for me.

I had to brush up on British colloquial speech and I learned a new word or two.

I found the frequent segues to the character backstories hard to follow at times but I enjoyed the descriptions of foreign locations. The ending left me nonplussed. I could almost hear  Le Carr saying something like," Well, well, Enough of that.  I really must end this book in the next 5 pages."

So what happened to his family? Speculation?

What about the poor pilot pawns?

I thought the way Gail became quickly attached to to the girls a little unrealistic.  Anyone else?


I would like to see the movie.



I think some of that "colloquial speech" you needed to brush up on was Le Carre's version of in-house "spy speak." Whether they really talk like that--Le Carre was a spy, after all, but that was close to 50 years ago now--is another question.

What happened to the family? Good question! I think there's reason to hope: after all, they do have Ollie with them, and despite here nun-like demeanor now, Tatiana (that's Dima's wife's name, isn't it?) was described as a hardened criminal in an earlier life, so if somebody's planning some kind of raid on the house timed to coincide with the plane crash (explosion? they didn't find signs of a bomb, did they? or was it covered up?), the kids had some protection. Plus, like I said, Perry both witnessed the plane crash and survived to tell the tale, so he could phone Hector or whoever for back up immediately, and not have to wait fo complete the long ride back to the house himself. And, though the Russian Mafia has a tough reputation when it comes to enforcement and retribution, do they go so far as to attack leftover family members, too? I don't know.

(No, wait! Ollie was the driver who got Perry and Luke and Dima to the plane, wasn't he! Drat! I can't consult my book because it's back at the library!)

My question is, who ordered and arranged the plane crash? The Mafia is the obvious answer, but did (do?) they have the intelligence to pull it off? Or was it MI6? If so...why? I'm kind of thinking the "bad guys" in the secret service did it...Billy, and that guy who's now in Parliament and who Hector and Billy both loathe.

I'm not so sure that I doubt Gail's attachment to the girls. She seemed like somebody who's in the mood to attach to somebody, and here they came, right in her path.

Amazon has "Our Kind of Traitor"--the movie--for streaming, for free if you have Amazon Prime. I assume you can also pay-per-view if you don't have Prime, but I'm not seeing that option come up immediately.

ETA: A link to the Amazon page for the movie: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dprime-instant-video&field-keywords=our+kind+of+traitor
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