When we knew for certain that she was about to die, she told me the whereabouts of her unpublished poems, and I read them for the first time. They were dazzling, and I faxed them to the New Yorker. When we heard back from the poetry editor Alice Quinn a few days later, Jane’s eyes were open but she couldn’t see. I told her that Quinn was taking seven poems. She had stopped speaking, but her oncologist said that she could still hear.
And so, despite all the great food, and the spectacular views, and the visits to pubs and grand cafes, and the museums, the most rewarding parts of these trips have been the explorations of my own family.
Also unlike Bond, Smiley is the star of several smart, well-written novels. Rare among thrillers, the Smiley books — there are nine of them, including A Legacy of Spies — score highly in both the qualities that people pretend to like in books (formal style, psychological portraiture, political intelligence, moral sensibility) and the qualities that people actually like in books (sex, violence, plot twists, convincing and frequently deployed spy jargon). Collectively, they form the best espionage series ever written.
I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers,
Of April, May, of June, and July-flowers.