Excerpt from The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Constant Gardener

By John Le Carre

The Constant Gardener
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Dec 2000,
    496 pages.
    Paperback: Nov 2001,
    576 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Walking Justin along the corridor, Woodrow made to touch his arm, but some kind of revulsion caused him to withdraw his hand before it made contact. All the same he was careful to walk close enough to catch him if he sagged or stumbled in some way, because by now Justin had the air of a well-dressed sleepwalker who had abdicated his sense of destination. They were moving slowly and without much sound, but Ghita must have heard them coming because as they passed her door she opened it and tiptoed alongside Woodrow for a couple of paces while she murmured in his ear, holding back her golden hair so that it didn't brush against him.

"He disappeared. They're searching high and low for him."

But Justin's hearing was better than either of them could have anticipated. Or perhaps, in the extremity of emotion, his perceptions were abnormally acute.

"You're worrying about Arnold, I expect," he told Ghita, in the helpful tone of a stranger indicating the way.




The High Commissioner was a hollowed, hyperintelligent man, an eternal student of something. He had a son who was a merchant banker and a small daughter called Rosie who was severely brain-damaged, and a wife who, when she was in England, was a Justice of the Peace. He adored them all equally and spent his weekends with Rosie strapped to his stomach. Yet Coleridge himself had somehow remained stranded on the brink of manhood. He wore a young man's braces with baggy Oxford trousers. A matching jacket hung behind the door on a hanger with his name on it: P. Coleridge, Balliol. He stood poised at the center of his large office, his tousled head tipped angrily to Woodrow as he listened. There were tears in his eyes and on his cheeks.

"Fuck," he announced furiously, as if he had been waiting to get the word off his chest.

"I know," said Woodrow.

"That poor girl. How old was she? Nothing!"

"Twenty-five." How did I know that? "About," he added, for vagueness.

"She looked about eighteen. That poor bugger Justin with his flowers."

"I know," Woodrow said again.

"Does Ghita know?"

"Bits."

"What the hell will he do? He hasn't even got a career. They were all set to throw him out at the end of this tour. If Tessa hadn't lost her baby, they'd have ditched him in the next cull." Sick of standing in one place, Coleridge swung away to another part of the room. "Rosie caught a two-pound trout on Saturday," he blurted accusingly. "What do you make of that?"

Coleridge had this habit of buying time with unannounced diversions.

"Splendid," Woodrow murmured dutifully.

"Tessa'd have been thrilled to bits. Always said Rosie would make it. And Rosie adored her."

"I'm sure she did."

"Wouldn't eat it, mind. We had to keep the sod on life support all weekend, then bury it in the garden." A straightening of the shoulders indicated that they were in business again. "There's a back story to this, Sandy. A bloody messy one."

"I'm well aware of that."

"That shit Pellegrin's already been on the line bleating about limiting the damage" -- Sir Bernard Pellegrin, Foreign Office mandarin with special responsibility for Africa and Coleridge's archenemy -- "how the hell are we supposed to limit the damage when we don't know what the fucking damage is? Ruined his tennis for him too, I expect."

"She was with Bluhm for four days and nights before she died," Woodrow said, glancing at the door to make sure it was still shut. "If that's damage. They did Loki, then they did Turkana. They shared a cabin and Christ knows what. A whole raft of people saw them together."

"Thanks. Thanks very much. Just what I wanted to hear." Plunging his hands deep into his baggy pockets, Coleridge waded round the room. "Where the fuck is Bluhm, anyway?"

Copyright © 2001 by David Cornwell.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Take This Man
    Take This Man
    by Brando Skyhorse
    "A chorus of six men calling me Son might sound ludicrous to you, but to me it's the sound of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.