Graham Greene called his earlier bestseller Travels with My Aunt an entertainment and The Honorary Consul a novel. The distinction is apt.
The main character in The Honorary Consul is physician Eduardo Plarr whose English father disappeared after having gotten involved with revolutionaries in Paraguay.
Plarr’s medical bag gives him entree into all classes of society in the unnamed Argentinian city in which Charles “call me Charley” Fortnum is honorary consul. Britain recalled the under-worked real consul. The locals don’t know the difference, and most of the time Charley is too drunk to care.
Charley has wed a woman from the local brothel who, to Charley’s delight, is pregnant. Unknown to Charley, Dr. Plarr is Clara’s lover and father of his child.
Charley is kidnapped by revolutionaries who mistake him for the American Ambassador. Rather than waste a hostage, the revolutionaries threaten to kill Charley if their demands are not met.
The kidnappers call Plarr to look after Charley.
Greene is a master of incisive detail. Whether sketching a character or describing a revolution, his pen is precise: Every word matters.
What’s more, every character matters. Greene cares about the countries and the people about whom he writes.
He’ll make you care, too.
The Honorary Consul: A Novel by Graham Greene
Simon and Schuster, © 1973, 315 p
#1973 bestseller #8. My grade: A
© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni