In a legendary novel that appears to predict the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Graham Greene introduces James Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman whose life in transformed when he is asked to join the British Secret Service. He agrees, and finds himself with no information to offer, so begins to invent sources and agencies which do not exist, but which appear very real to his superiors.
Then follow some very real events, such as undercover work and even murder attempts, all backed up by phantom chains of information and invented covert agencies.
An often light-hearted but massively important complete and unabridged audiobook, which makes many comments on present-day life despite being published over 50 years ago. The book was also made into a hit film starring Carol Reed and Alec Guinness in 1959, and has recently (2007) been the subject of a play adaptation staged in Guildford to a enthusiastic public reception.
"I'd forgotten that Greene could be so funny, but maybe it's just the brilliant way that Jeremy Northam has caught the ironic tone of the book's unlikely hero, James Wormold, who sells vacuum cleaners (not very successfully) in pre-Castro Cuba..."(
"Jeremy Northam catches Greene's tone of ruined romanticism to perfection..."(The Daily Mail)
"When Graham Greene is on comic form, he can't be bettered, and I chuckled merrily even on the M6 during a weekend drive to Cumbria and back. A good audiobook is immensely calming on such occasions; they should be issued free at service stations before notorious traffic congestion spots. Spare, elegant prose, hilarious set-pieces and a happy ending made Our Man in Havanna the perfect choice..."(The Times)
"...Greene's satire is playful in comparison with his other works - Catholic angst is mainly confined to Wormold's teenage daughter, and even for her there's no real contest between God and her horse. Greene's sense of the absurd strengthens the many tense scenarios, whilst the narration captures the ambience and the dialogue brilliantly, projecting a film in the listener's head."(The Oldie)
"The many characters in this satirical spy novel burst with personality, idiosyncrasies, odd mannerisms, and quirky conversation. A theatre director would be lucky to find multiple actors who could do justice to Greene's writing. Jeremy Northam, though, gives each character a distinct voice and presence all by himself. He makes notes of the details Greene uses to cast a character and takes off from there. His London intelligence chief, for example, is raspy and chilling, as if speaking from the grave. The agent Hawthorne sounds clipped and hurried, a touch anxious... Northam expresses them all as if accessing the same secret core that Greene imagined at the heart of all his characters..."(Audiofile)
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Shame about the music
- DD Kaplan
Very enjoyable, grit your teeth & ignore the music