Hope by Len Deighton


Bernard Samson triple trilogy – book 8

published 1995




Hope Deighton 001


Some of the initial rage seemed to have gone out of her and she stood there looking at me, silent as if trying to think of the next thing she’d planned to say. She was dressed in a long suede coat and fur hat; an outfit that suited her so well that it was the image of her that returned to my mind when I thought of her. A great ball of fur like a clown’s fright-wig. She’d never taken off that hat during the entire night that we spent together waiting in the hospital, worrying about little Billy’s bronchitis. It was a long time ago but I remembered it vividly. Brown roll-neck sweater, brown wool skirt, pale leather ankle-boots and that crazy hat. No one could have taken Billy’s plight more to heart than she did. She paced up and down, I remember, disappearing into the toilet so that I wouldn’t see her crying.


observations: Heading towards the end now – this is the 8th of the 9 main books in the sequence. As ever, I am anxious to avoid spoilers as far as possible, so need to talk about the sidelines to the plot…

Len Deighton wrote fascinating introductions for these editions, and one thing he said is very interesting in regard to Gloria (the much younger woman who forms a relationship with Bernard during a difficult period of his life):
I didn’t mean to fall in love with the character of Gloria. I fought against it every step of the way. I gave her plenty of faults and failings but it was no use, she came through every test with a radiant glow. I loved Fiona [Bernard’s wife] too; she has the sophistication, gravitas and intellect that Bernard respects so much. But Gloria wears my wife’s clothes – that fur hat and brown suede overcoat from Paris – and flaunts them with youthful abandon. Who can resist her? And yet these were not my characterizations. Like everyone and everything in the stories, each was seen through the eyes of Bernard Samson, whose sceptical bite is the essence of the whole series.
Well yes, seen through Bernard’s eyes, but also through Len Deighton’s. Fiona is a riveting, deep character. Gloria is very charming, and indeed she is lovable, but she never seems quite real – not in the way Fiona does – and she does rather seem to be the 1980s version of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Throughout all the books I am constantly asking questions about the childcare arrangements for Bernard and Fiona’s children, Sally and Billy: at times these are described in enormous and careful detail, and Samson and Deighton seem to see how difficult if must be to organize when the parents are spies. But other times nothing seems to be worked out for them, and as the vital departmental plans are being made – the future of the whole free world may depend on this – I find myself saying ‘but, hang on, who is babysitting right now?’

This book takes an excellent new step, with a long, marvellous section set in a large country house in Poland in the snow. Bernard and Dicky go there in search of George Kosinski, who was married to Bernard’s sister-in-law Tessa. This is a tour de force of social events, social difficulties, awkward situations as guests, and deep dark goings-on. It is full of surprises, and features a severed hand, and a leg that has been mauled by wild dogs. But to whom do the bodyparts belong?

There are uncertainties right up till the end. And still one more book to come…

My good blogging friend Tracy over at Bitter Tea and Mystery is also reading the books, and recently reviewed this one. She too is moving on to Charity.

The picture is from a fashion magazine of the period.









Comments

  1. What an interesting bit of insight into Gloria, Moira! I always like it when an author lets you in on her or his thought processes like that. And of course, what's not to like about Deighton's writing style and social observations? Glad you enjoyed this so well.

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    1. So clever and so funny - and he wrote so much! In some ways he's the perfect writer.

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  2. Moira, if it weren't for the title and the author's name I wouldn't have known Len Deighton had written this novel. I'm referring to the excerpt which is unlike anything I remember reading by the author. I'm going to have start reading Deighton all over again.

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    1. You are so right, Prashant, it hadn't occurred to me, but this odd passage about the children wouldn't make you think of Deighton would it? He is full of surprises.

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  3. Thanks for linking to my review, Moira. That image is perfect. I recently bought paperback copies of Faith, Hope, and Charity with the introductions because I loved them (the introductions) so much. Not many authors I would do that for. I am sure you will beat me to Charity. I want to read it soon but I have lots of stuff I need to read first... and then I will be done with the series, and sad. I like Gloria; to me she seems to be too perfect. But then she is seen through the eyes of Bernard, so who knows?

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  4. You have contributed to my education. I had not heard of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

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    1. I don't think I've ever used the phrase myself before, Tracy, but I have smiled to hear and read it, and I do recognize the type.
      I know what you mean about not wanting to finish the series. There is plenty of other Deighton to read, but I have invested in Samson....

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  5. Moira: Nice to see a photo of a model looking chic in a hat, gloves and coat that might actually shield her from the cold and snow.I make no comment on the pants.

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    1. People often say (to my great delight) that I have made them notice clothes in books more. Well, Bill, because of you I am much more likely to look at the practicality of the clothes the heroines wear, I look at them through your eyes! I still use the photo I like best, but I laugh to myself and often think, 'hmm, I don't think Bill is going to think THIS is very practical...'
      I'm glad today's Gloria gets a partial seal of approval. She does look cosy.

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    2. Thanks Moira. I appreciate your kind words.

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  6. I am glad I am not the only one who worries about child-care arrangements in novels!

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    1. Yes! You feel so mumsy don't you, but it seems to me to be a reasonable thing to ask about....

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  7. I'm pretty sure I will have uncovered the first of these soon, though I think I could make a start on his other series instead. One question - where does WINTER tie-in with the series? I believe it is connected but written after the first three...read it fourth, read it first, or don't read it at all?

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    1. Winter is (I think) a prequel, written after the others, about Bernard Samson's Dad, and Berlin just after the end of WW2, when Bernard was but a lad. I haven't read it, and don't feel any great urge to, but completists should!

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