Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad (3.5/5)

First published: 1907
Page count: 304

GoodReads says: Mr Verloc, the secret agent, keeps a shop in London's Soho where he lives with his wife Winnie, her infirm mother, and her idiot brother, Stevie. When Verloc is reluctantly involved in an anarchist plot to blow up the Greenwich Observatory things go disastrously wrong, and what appears to be "a simple tale" proves to involve politicians, policemen, foreign diplomats and London's fashionable society in the darkest and most surprising interrelations.

I say: This must have been the fifth time I started reading this, and if it weren’t for it being on my completely ignored 100 Classics Challenge, I would never have finished it. And what a shame that would have been.


As may be deduced from that initial sentence, this was a very slow start for me. A lot of information about Mr Verloc and his family – too much information, I later found out – and I was glad that I had never read the synopsis before picking this up, because it’s not the type of book I enjoy. And I didn’t really enjoy it, but had to keep forcing my way through, which is sad because it could have been a good read.

Conrad has a way with words (though somewhat repetitive with certain phrases) and the ability to build up excitement only to have it all fall a shambles in ridiculous conclusions. Considering all the information and details we were given, it was disappointing to find that most of it went absolutely nowhere. So, hat’s off to Conrad for tricking the hell out of me.

3.5/5 because there were a lot of curious beginnings, but most of them fell flat.

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