In the same week, Oscar-winning Fog of War director Errol Morris, 75, premieres The Pigeon Tunnel, his documentary about The Spy Who Came in From the Cold author John le Carré — the pen name of real-life British spy David Cornwell, who died at 89 in 2020 — and Adam Sisman, 69, publishes the book The Secret Life of John le Carré.
It’s a good idea to read the book, then see the movie. Here are some of their eye-opening revelations.
The book shows that le Carré kept lots of secrets — especially from women.
Sisman discovered that le Carré betrayed almost everyone he knew: agents, publishers, his British secret service employer, his friends, his children, two wives and scads of lovers. One friend said le Carré had 53 mistresses. He may have been joking, but Sisman found 11, including the novelist’s young secretary, his best friend’s wife, a sexy model le Carré invited for a threesome with his own wife, and his son’s au pair.
They fouled him up, his mum and dad.
Sisman’s fascinating book, a sequel to his 2015 le Carré bio, which le Carré called “conscientious, fact-based, and, for me, a horrible mirror” reveals a damaged man.
His mother, sick of his father Ronnie’s infidelities and scared of his gangster pals, including the infamous Kray brothers, coldly abandoned the future writer when he was 5.
Ronnie was a con man who swindled old people out of their life savings, sexually molested his son and was repeatedly imprisoned. When le Carré was a British spy in Germany, Ronnie tried to become a spy for East Germany.
Le Carré gave Sisman a list of his reasons for adultery.
1. Ever since childhood, a search for elemental creature warmth & love.
2. A recognition — at 30 — that I had given my youth away to a marriage that only made me sad.
3. An ignorance & suspicion of all women, a never-ending search for love; carnality, self-destruction, reckless despair, hope.
5. No self-esteem.
6. Fury at the chains of convention.
7. Utter loneliness.
8. Fury at my own conformity with convention.