The Honorary Consul

It is with much reluctance that I write about this book. It started out well but got bogged down about 3/4 of the way through, and while well-written, didn’t quite allow me to sink into it. I felt like I was an onlooker, standing on the edge of the crowd, trying to peer over the shoulders of the many in front of me, trying to see what was going on, and merely getting glimpses.

Perhaps I ought to start flipping through these books before I actually chuck them in the basket when I’m at the library. However, since it started out well enough, would that have made any difference? I would’ve still checked it out of the library and brought it home with me.

It has been such a long time since I’ve read Greene. The first was The Quiet American , after the movie came out. The movie has coloured my recollection of the book, I can only think of Michael Caine and unfortunately, Brendan Fraser, when I try to remember what this book was about. Similarly, when I try to recall The End of the Affair , what comes to mind is Julianne Moore and Ralph Fiennes. So The Honorary Consul is the first Greene that I have read without being clouded by someone else’s vision. Yet somehow I have no firm impression of the book, despite having just read it a few weeks ago. While trying to come up with a serviceable summary, I even had to look up the names of the characters because they had already been wiped from my memory. That doesn’t quite bode very well for this book, or this review, does it? Ok, I’ll try to keep it short. Onward!

Fortnum is the Honorary Consul, long forgotten by his government in this sleepy border town in Argentina. A botched kidnapping by Paraguayan revolutionaries who were trying to capture the American ambassador means that Fortnum’s main connection to the outside world is Dr Plarr, a British-Paraguayan doctor. What complicates things is that Fortnum’s young wife, a former prostitute, is carrying Plarr’s baby, although Fortnum doesn’t quite know that. Anyway, there are funny moments and interesting characters (almost all were male) and good writing, which should all be elements for a good book, shouldn’t they? I don’t know, perhaps it was my reading mood at the time or maybe I was just juggling too many books and wasn’t quite committed to this one as I should’ve been.

This is my first read for the Argentinian leg of the Reading the World Challenge. However, perhaps this wasn’t the best of books to kick off the Argentinian leg of the Reading the World Challenge. I’ll be looking for another Argentinian read soon!


  1. Bummer! Sorry this one didn’t pan out for you. I have read The End of the Affair and loved it, and I’m a huge fan of the short story, “The Destructors.” I also have Travels with My Aunt waiting on my stacks somewhere. I think I’ll steer clear of this particular title until I run out of other Greene choices. šŸ™‚


    1. I’ll have to check out The Destructors. I don’t believe I’ve read any of Greene’s short stories, so that will have to go on my TBR list. Thanks!


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