Aboard the Orient Express as it heads across Europe towards Constantinople, a relationship develops between Carleton Myatt and Coral Musker, a naive English chorus girl. Around them a web of espionage, murder and lies twist in this spy thriller.
|Publisher:||Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||7.00(w) x 5.00(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Graham Greene (1904-1991) was an English novelist and author regarded by some as one of the great writers of the 20th century. Combining literary acclaim with widespread popularity, Greene acquired a reputation early in his lifetime as a major writer, both of serious Catholic novels, and of thrillers (or "entertainments" as he termed them). He was shortlisted, in 1967, for the Nobel Prize for Literature. His best-known works include The Power and the Glory, The End of the Affair, and The Third Man.
Date of Birth:October 2, 1904
Date of Death:April 3, 1991
Place of Birth:Berkhamsted, England
Place of Death:Vevey, Switzerland
Education:Balliol College, Oxford
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Published in 1932 this was Graham Greene's first real success as a novelist, which he described as an entertainment. The action takes place in and around the Orient Express as it travels from Ostend to Constantinople. We are in typical Greene noir territory from the rainy windswept terminus at Ostend to the bleak, icy winter landscape at a desolate village station in the Balkans, where the climax to the story takes place. Most of the action takes place at night; torchlights flash and people hide their faces. The movement of the train and the scenery flashing by provides snapshots of lives outside of the train; the artificial cramped space that the characters occupy, they seem herded together, bumping in to each other as they influence each others destinies.Greene quickly and skillfully introduces us to the main characters in his drama, sketching in their background so that they are ready and primed to play their parts. All the characters are dishonest in varying degrees, they are pinched and cold as they try to get ahead in the uncertain world of 1930's Europe. There is: Carol Muskar a chorus girl whose only chance of work is in a club in Constantinople almost an innocent abroad, Dr Czinner travelling under an alias and preparing to co-ordinate a revolution in Belgrade, Q C Savory a vapid best selling novelist and Joseph Grunlich a career criminal on the run for murder.Greene's two most fleshed out characters are what we would consider today stereotypical and it is useful to remind ourselves that this was written in the 1930's: Carleton Myatt is a Jew and we are constantly reminded of his Jewish traits, he is obsessed with business and the price of goods, not to be trusted, fearing the Christians around him with whom he must do business, but laughing as he outsmarts them at every turn. Mabel Warner is a lesbian given a "butch" personality, an alcoholic press reporter who will do anything to keep her younger lover Janet Pardoe, who is also traveling on the train. Greene has been accused of anti-semitism and certainly the Jew Myatt along with the lesbian Warner are the arch manipulators, the most dishonest of his characters The novel might seem a little pedestrian as a thriller by today's standards. There are few twists and turns, however there is some suspense and a well worked out story line and of course plenty of period detail. I read this for the excellent writing, the characterisation and the noir like atmosphere that pervades everything
Probably not one of Greene's best, but still a cracking read, with the story framed neatly by the progress of the train to Constantinople.The characters are memorable, even though they are stereotypes, we have a Jew, a Chorus Girl, a Girl On the Go (who hasn't got there yet), a Lesbian (complete with cropped hair), a Small-Time Crook who has just murdered his first man).An oddly satisfying read, the story is neatly wrapped up, and all the lives continue smoothly, heading into the infinite future, rather like all 30's fiction.
It's never just 'an entertainment' when Graham Greene has written it. This novel about strangers on a train tries to cover a lot of ground about relationships and fate. His characters are very fleshed out, even if some of the plot is a little specious or a major character is simply an anti-semitic stereotype. Carleton Myatt, a Jewish merchant, makes one think that Greene had not ever met a Jew. He is totally unrealistic and rather offensive, not out of particular venom (I think Greene tries to be sympathetic to Myatt) but out of a routine anti-semitism of the age.
This is one of Greene's earlier novels and therefore he seems less set on moralizing his message and instead dramatizes it. This book uses the cliched 'train' motif to bring characters together that are fresh, interesting, and vibrant. It's not wrong to use such a setting as long as you bring something new to it. There is Myatt, a Jewish businessman making his way to Constantinople to confront a corrupt employee. Coral, a chorus line girl wanting to make it big. Dr. Czinner, a communist rebel who plans to topple the government of the country he has been exiled from, and many other great characters who find themselves crossing paths in their seperate destinies. Some of them will make it to the end of the line and others will not. I found this book much more enjoyable than Greene's more literary novels. This novel seems to be a precursor of an almost Ian Fleming style of writing and plot.