Bruno Salvador, known to friends and enemies alike as Salvo, is the ever-innocent, twenty-nine-year-old orphaned love-child of a Catholic Irish missionary and a Congolese headman's daughter. Educated first at mission school in the East Congolese province of Kivu, and later at a discreet sanctuary for the secret sons of Rome, Salvo is inspired by ...
Bruno Salvador, known to friends and enemies alike as Salvo, is the ever-innocent, twenty-nine-year-old orphaned love-child of a Catholic Irish missionary and a Congolese headman's daughter. Educated first at mission school in the East Congolese province of Kivu, and later at a discreet sanctuary for the secret sons of Rome, Salvo is inspired by his mentor Brother Michael to train as a professional interpreter in the minority African languages of which, almost from birth, he has been an obsessive collector. Soon a rising star in his profession, he is courted by City corporations, hospitals, law courts, the Immigration services and -- inevitably -- the mushrooming overworld of British Intelligence. He is also courted -- and won -- by the all-white, Surrey-born Penelope, star reporter on one of our great national newspapers, whom with typical impulsiveness he promptly marries. Yet even as the story opens, a contrary and irresistible love is dawning in him. Despatched to a no-name island in the North Sea to attend a top-secret meeting between Western financiers and East Congolese warlords, Salvo is obliged to interpret matters never intended for his re-awoken African conscience.
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This is a fast paced adventure through British and African politics centered around an "innocent" and newly lovestruck young man. The book s reminiscent of Ambler's innocent man intrigues. It starts out very lightheartedly, somtimes hilariously, very unlike LeCarre's other novels. We are, however, slowly and finally swept into a darker side through the hero's well meaning but tragic misteps. Bruno is a native light skinned African living in England, married to a white well connected English reporter, and working for British Intelligence as an ace interpreter. He falls in love with an African nurse as his marriage is breaking apart. Simultaneously he becomes a witness, through his job as interpeter, to a plan being set in motion by Britain and "other" international partners to supposedly save the turbulent East Congo . In fact, he discovers it is a giant scam. He is assigned to act as interpreter and play a very tricky part in an elaborately arranged meeting between the leaders of factions that must be brought together to achieve peace and prosperity to the Congolese. The elaborate and ingenious staging of this meeting as well as the descriptions of the various players is a central part of the story. The novel can be broken into three parts. The amusing introduction of Bruno, his background and relationships with his wife and his new lovemate. Then the technicalities and progress of the clandestine meeting: thirdly, the rapidly unfolding of the drama as Bruno and his lover(with her surprising contacts!) attempt to expose the evil planners. Naturally, time is of the essence. The story is very cleverly done . I have had to get used to LeCarre's new socially conscious novels after being a super devoted fan of his spy stories. I think he has tended to be a little heavy handed, with the issues and characterizations being a bit over simplified. The introduction of some humor in this book goes a long way towards softening some of that and really makes a much better read.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-12-04 Bruno Salvo, the illegitimate son of an Irish missionary father and a Congolese mother, is one of le Carre's most interesting lead characters-and one of the most difficult for an actor to bring to life using just his voice. Fortunately, Oyelowo, a veteran of everything from televised comedy to live Shakespeare, has the ability to quickly catch and transmit to listeners the many elements of Bruno's essence in this moving and surprisingly amusing audio version of arguably the author's least typical novel. Oyelowo never falters in presenting the many other characters who flesh out the story, from the Roman mentor who shapes the orphaned Bruno's future as a professional interpreter of African tribal languages to the British intelligence agents who eventually recruit him. Oyelowo positively shines with recognizable truth as he shrewdly recreates Bruno's growing awareness of the power this knowledge gives him-personally, politically and socially. It would be difficult for any other actor, even one with more star power, to take Bruno Salvo into film or television without us hearing Oyelowo's voice in our heads while we watch. Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Reviews, July 31). (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2006-07-31 Bestseller le Carr? (The Constant Gardener) brings a light touch to his 20th novel, the engrossing tale of an idealistic and na?ve British interpreter, Bruno "Salvo" Salvador. The 29-year-old Congo native's mixed parentage puts him in a tentative position in society, despite his being married to an attractive upper-class white Englishwoman, who's a celebrity journalist. Salvo's genius with languages has led to steady work from a variety of employers, including covert assignments from shadowy government entities. One such job enmeshes the interpreter in an ambitious scheme to finally bring stability to the much victimized Congo, and Salvo's personal stake in the outcome tests his professionalism and ethics. Amid the bursts of humor, le Carr? convincingly conveys his empathy for the African nation and his cynicism at its would-be saviors, both home-grown patriots and global powers seeking to impose democracy on a failed state. Especially impressive is the character of Salvo, who's a far cry from the author's typical protagonist but is just as plausible. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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