Excerpt from A Spy by Nature by Charles Cumming, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

A Spy by Nature

A Novel

by Charles Cumming

A Spy by Nature by Charles Cumming
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jul 2007, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2008, 368 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


She sounded impressed.

“Who said that?”

“I don’t know.”

“Anyway, Michael says to give him a ring if you’re interested. I’ve got the number. Fetch a pen.”

I tried to stop her. I didn’t like the idea of her putting shape on my life, but she was insistent.

“Not everyone gets a chance like this. You’re twenty-four now. You’ve only got that small amount of money your father left you in his Paris account. It’s time you started thinking about a career and stopped working for that crooked Pole.”

I argued with her a little more, just enough to convince myself that if I went ahead it would be of my own volition and not because of some parental arrangement. Then, two days later, I rang Hawkes.

It was shortly after nine o’clock in the morning. He answered after one ring, the voice crisp and alert.

“Michael. It’s Alec Milius.”

“Hello.”

“About the conversation you had with my mother.”

“Yes.”

“In the supermarket.”

“You want to go ahead?”

“If that’s possible. Yes.”

His manner was strangely abrupt. No friendly chat, no excess fat.

“I’ll talk to one of my colleagues. They’ll be in touch.”

“Good. Thanks.”

Three days later a letter arrived in a plain white envelope marked private and confidential.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

No. 46A———Terrace

London SW1

PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL

Dear Mr. Milius,

It has been suggested to me that you might be interested to have a discussion with us about fast-stream appointments in government service in the field of foreign affairs which occasionally arise in addition to those covered by the Open Competition to the Diplomatic Service. This office has a responsibility for recruitment to such appointments.

If you would like to take this possibility further, I should be grateful if you would please complete the enclosed form and return it to me. Provided that there is an appointment for which you appear potentially suitable, I shall then invite you to an exploratory conversation at this office. Your travel expenses will be refunded at the rate of a standard return rail fare plus tube fares.

I should stress that your acceptance of this invitation will not commit you in any way, nor will it affect your candidature for any government appointments for which you may apply or have applied.

As this letter is personal to you, I should be grateful if you could respect its confidentiality.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Lucas

Recruitment Liaison Office

Enclosed was a standard-issue, four-page application form: name and address, education, brief employment history, and so on. I completed it within twenty-four hours—replete with lies—and sent it back to Lucas. He replied by return post, inviting me to the meeting.

Copyright © 2001 by Charles Cumming. All rights reserved.

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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Dark Flood Rises
    The Dark Flood Rises
    by Margaret Drabble
    Margaret Drabble, the award-winning novelist and literary critic who is approaching eighty and ...
  • Book Jacket: All Our Wrong Todays
    All Our Wrong Todays
    by Elan Mastai
    You need a great deal of time to read All Our Wrong Todays, but don't let that put you off. ...
  • Book Jacket: Dadland
    Dadland
    by Keggie Carew
    In her notable debut, Keggie Carew examines the life of her father Tom, a decorated war hero whose ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Our Short History
    by Lauren Grodstein

    Lauren Grodstein breaks your heart, then miraculously pieces it back together so it's stronger, than before.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Lola
    by Melissa Scrivner Love

    An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

To make a library it takes two volumes and a fire. Two volumes and a fire, and interest. The interest alone will do...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -