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.
©2008 CSA Word; (P)2009 CSA Word
"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..."(The Guardian)
"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)
"Delete the Music and It Would Be Fine"
Aaarrgh! I wish I had listened to the reviewer who said the music made listening to this book intolerable. I thought if was worth a shot because I liked the sample of Jeremy Northam's reading so much, but it was a complete waste of a hard-earned credit. It is the same wretched piece of music every single time, it plays ever five minutes, and it's louder than the reading (like commercials during TV shows). Someone should lose their job over this because it would have been so enjoyable otherwise.
"Annoying music nearly ruins book"
Whoever edited the audio productions must be a big fan of shopping center music. A VERY LOUD Latin rhythm or British band music interrupts the narration every five minutes (or so it seems) at the end of every chapter and between sections within chapters. It was like being tapped in an elevator for 7 plus hours, which very nearly ruined the book for me. "Our Man in Havana" is one of Greene's lightest works, an absurd comic plot but with serious (and prescient) political insights. The reader is adequate. The story itself is well worth the time if you can live with the frequent musical interruptions.
"Kill the music"
I too wish I had listened to the prior review about the music ruining the listening experience. I only listened to about an hour and I can't listen anymore. Jeremy Northam is great, but dear lord. the LOUD music that plays incessantly is enough to make you scream. Like the prior reviewer stated, the music is louder than the narration like commercials on TV. Obnoxious. I've deleted the book from my iPod. I can't endure it.
"music is a disaster -- don't buy this!"
anger. music spoiled it. Only just managed to get through it
I'd like to strangle the guy who put in the disgusting music!!!!!!!!
"Fine narrative ruined by goofball music"
Northam's enjoyable and well-spoken interpretation of this Greene classic is tortured by incessant musical interludes -- not only between chapters but inserted at all the wrong moments by some over-reaching (certainly tone-deaf) producer. Perhaps an intern let run amok? CSA Word Classic should be ashamed of this amateurish tactic that serves only to repeatedly kill the mood and enjoyment of an otherwise first-rate narration. The music relating to Cuba is bad enough, but the trite ditty you hear when the scene changes to Britain is particularly laughable and annoying. Take away his headphones and fire that guy!
"Classic British spy novel"
Lets start with this, if you like classic mystery novels of the "Maltese Falcon" genre then this is going to be a great pick for you. The writing is solid and the plot is quirky enough to keep the interest of the reader, the performance is great and for the genre it is going to be a great experience. The ending, like all British spy novels wraps up in a very tidy package and the whole thing is very wholesome. If you like to dip your toe into the genre every now and then I would say "add to cart" and take a trip to Cuba pre-revolution.
"Greene cooked to perfection"
I found myself chuckling whilst I listened to this beautifully written and recorded book. Greene draws us into the serpentine world of the secret agent and allows us to simultaneously join him in smiling even laughing aloud at the traps the narcissistic members of the professional spy brigade weave for themselves. And through it all the hero and his delightfully artful daughter manage to dodge the bullets and emerge with innocence largely intact. All set against the backdrop of pre-revolution Cuba.
"Brilliant story, worth the terrible music"
The script of Dr. Strangelove: they're both brilliant satire.
excellent, excellent, excellent
Published four years before the Cuban Missile Crisis, this is a brilliant, very funny cloak-and-dagger about a vacuum cleaner salesman enlisted into British intelligence. The so-called agent reports on unidentified military emplacements that, coincidentally, look a lot like vacuum cleaners. What's real, what's not, and what becomes real are in the mix of this great send-up. Jeremy Northam is a superb reader. The producers, however, got carried away with their own importance and tried to gussy this up with a repetitive snippet of carnival music that works against Graham Greene's straight-faced telling. Even so, it's terrific and well-worth listening to. Let's hope the producers don't come close to wrecking too many other audio productions.
"Graham Greene should not be a Well-Kept Secret"
I wasn't expecting the chuckles. This is really a preposterous story, one which pokes fun at the Cold War intelligence gathering establishment. While not per se satire, at least in my opinion, the humour is very droll; tongue-in-cheek.
No one ever expected this to be that kind of page turner. It's a great story set in the days before Castro, when so many players had "interests" in Cuba. But you get a real sense of the era and what it must have been like back in the day.
No "extreme reactions," but a very satisfying read. I was surprised at how much fun Greene had with his characters, and by the same token, his audience.
This is not Ian Fleming, James Bond, action thriller. This is not any of the current crop of writers who do this kind of story for the current reader who wants a summer read that can be tossed on the way back from the beach. But this is very entertaining in its own way.
"Our Man in Havana"
The book has been my favourite one, but being not an English native speaker I rather hesitated to download the audio. But it has met all my expectations. Great!
"Pity I had to wait so long to hear it..."
I enjoyed the book, I must have to put up with the stupidly long musically interludes, Whoever came up with them needs calling back to London ;)
"A good yarn - well read"
I enjoyed this immensely. It is the often hilarious story of cold war espionage in pre-revolutionary Cuba. Jeremy Northam's reading is excellent with superb characterisations - even of the female characters. the excerpts of 'theme music' between chapters - Samba music for Cuba, Brass band for English scenes, fast music at the end of an exciting chapter - were rather irritating though.
"Shame about the music"
Great story, well read. The recording could have done without musical interludes every 5 minutes, it breaks the flow of the narration
"Great book - shame about the cheesy music!"
Book was spoiled for me by the awful music used throughout! Very unnecessary!
Well read though and a fab story!
"Entertaining and funny"
Really enjoyed this. Like another reviewer, I could have done without the musical interludes to tell us when we were in Cuba and when we were in London, but the rest was great.
"Very enjoyable, grit your teeth & ignore the music"
For some reason this excellently read story is punctuated with long musical interludes: Cuban-style music when the action is in Havana and really badly produced, pompous music when it switches to the UK. The narrator, simply states the change of location anyway so it's also unnecessary for understanding the plot. I'm afraid it adds nothing but is a little annoying.
"spoilt by the inane muzak"
what idiot thought they could "improve" a classic book by mixing in long bits of cheap music to "set the scene" every few minutes. they must think their readers are stupid. what next? a "teaser" before each chapter? how about a commentator? celebrity endorsement? adverts? did Greene sell his book with a free record attached? it's a book. b. o. o. k. book.
"Utterly engrossing first taste of Graham Greene"
Wry, subtle, intelligent.
I'm a sucker for intelligent espionage fiction. How could I not have read Graham Greene until now? His subtle and understated writing is perfect for this setting. The story is both dark and amusing, and cruelly takes the mickey out of governments and civil servants. When we were in Cuba I felt languid and relaxed, in Britain chilled and grey. An utterly engrossing listen.
The main protagonist has the perfect name: Wormold, and he's weak and pliable and ambiguous. But the character with delicious depth and subtlety is Captain Segura, the corrupt and evil strongman who has his own morality and ethics.
An audiobook has to be an absolute masterpiece to keep me from all other brain activity from start to finish. Our Man in Havana doesn't quite reach those dizzy heights. But it's a rollicking good listen and the perfect length. I definitely rearranged my activities so I could get back to listening. Highly recommended.
My first Graham Greene, I'm ashamed to admit. I chose "Our Man in Havana" over other Greene novels because the narration (by Jeremy Northam) was highly rated, and for good reason. The narration and production was just my cuppa tea - completely engrossing story-telling with little snatches of Cuban music between scenes.
There were a handful of convenient plot coincidences but they didn't spoil my utter enjoyment of this engrossing audiobook experience.
Book great. Reader great. Who the hell thought the music was a good idea? Totally spoiled it for me. Intensely irritating and intrusive - even used underneath the reading, as well as during apparently random breaks. Let's have some Irish dance music with Angela's Ashes, or Chase & Status during Sons & Lovers.
"Classic spoiled by Muzak"
Great story by the wonderful Graham Greene; funny and cynical.
Including that terrible music throughout was an awful idea that spoils it quite a bit.
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