Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene


“There was something clinical in a brothel that appealed to Doctor Plarr. It was as though he were watching a surgeon accompanying a new patient to the operating theatre – the previous operation had been successful and was already out of mind.”

There may be spoilers ahead….
First published in 1973, Graham Greene’s The Honorary Consul is a captivating read that resonates through its character development.
Doctor Eduardo Plarr radiates cold detachment through his loveless affairs and clinical observations of the world around him. This masks the emotional upheaval of his true state of affairs. The impact of his father’s imprisonment and the cuckolding and kidnap of  his English friend, Fortnum.
As always Greene’s writing drops you right in the middle of the mixed emotions and action. Charley Fortnum, the titular Honorary Consul is an older, whiskey loving gent who is overreaching in his position to provide for his ex-prostitute wife, Clara. Rescuing her from the brothel of Senora Sanchez has given his life meaning and the possibility of a child. Utilising his largely impotent diplomatic position to import foreign cars and make some money for the future is his way of ensuring  a better life for his beloved and their family.
To Dr Plarr, Fortnum begins as somewhat of a joke figure.  Someone not to be taken too seriously. When Fortnum is kidnapped by mistake instead of the American Ambassador Plarr is drawn into real intrigue and is torn between his desire to save his father versus his friend. Things, however, are not all as they seem.
South America plays a rather small role here. This is a novel about borders, transgressions and ultimately about love. Love it I did!  5 out of 5, kidnap a copy now!

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