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[spoilers] Harry's Diary - Printable Version

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[spoilers] Harry's Diary - JHyde - 05-12-2009 05:12 PM

This thread is for all those who've read and loved Harry's Diary. Or who read and loved and had a few criticisms. Or who read and hated it.

I say READ (past tense) because I think we should be able to talk about the content freely and openly.

Be free and open!

BTW, almh: I'm betting the eleven year old who applied to MI5 was you. (p322)

Don't feel like you need to give page references, I'm just doing that to make it easier when I reference something obscurely. And also because, as a history student, it's something I find hard to shake.

RE: [spoilers] Harry's Diary - almh - 05-12-2009 05:44 PM

You figured me out Tongue

My favourite quote of all time, which I have repeatedly told everyone is on p.89 Smile

"I radioed two of my agents in the crowd. 'Two minutes,' I said. 'On my count. I need you to take your clothes off and run on to the pitch. All subsequent fallout will be taken care of.'

I wondered how I'd react should I ever receive such an order."

My other favourite quote is right at the end, when Harry talks about Ruth, it is heart-breaking!!!

"I met Ruth. We kissed. I never said the thing I wanted to say. The words hung, unspoken, in that autumn morning by the Thames. Let's leave it as something wonderful that was never said. Those were her words as we kissed and parted.

There will be no Will and Zoe ending for us. No postcards of gratitude back to dead colleagues in London. No second chances. No grand tour together, drinking white burgundy and joking about surveillance teams watching her purse. No luck, no joy, no future, just the pain of something left undone, a journey never started, a life choice that left us with no choice at all.

I loved her. I loved that silly, stubborn mule. That's what I wanted to say. I still love her."

Of course, Harry was wrong about the no second chances, but I think that his diary is really in character. It's things he would actually have written, and it does contain in areas his dry wit (although I can't quote a piece now as I have to go soon Sad) and it is so realistic. We learn so much from his diary, about life before the service, his difficult relationship with his family, and his motives for events that happen in the series. I personally love it, and would strongly recommend that anyone who hasn't got it should buy it!!!

RE: [spoilers] Harry's Diary - JHyde - 05-12-2009 05:52 PM

It was you?! I was totally kidding!

I do have criticisms about the book, but I think I'll save them for when I'm more lucid.

RE: [spoilers] Harry's Diary - almh - 05-12-2009 05:54 PM

... So was I Wink

RE: [spoilers] Harry's Diary - lwhite53 - 05-12-2009 07:57 PM

I think Harry's Diary is the best of the spooks books, to date. As almh says, it is written in the style one attaches to Harry and that helps you to believe that he really wrote it. Also, I love the honesty of his entries (fictional "honesty" of course, which is perhaps an oxymoron) as honesty is something we know that Harry plays with a lot, the concept of "the truth" being "elastic." But he promises himself that he will tell the unvarnished truth in his diary and he seems to stick to that, as many of the entries portray him in an unflattering light (absolutely loved the bit with his then wife's supposed lover).

One of the things I appreciated most was the interweaving of real world events into Harry's fictional life, which gave the book more immediacy for me. You can actually *see* him at work through the events you've read about over the years.

I was a little puzzled at the end -- the quick follow-up to Ruth's leaving with his going off to rescue Catherine. That situation took several months to resolve (based on the entry dates in the diary) and would have happened in S5, somewhere between eps 5 and 6, but there was no indication of that in the actual series. In fact, it seemed to me that ep 6 followed quickly on ep 5, as everyone was somewhat leery of Harry because of what had just happened to Ruth.

RE: [spoilers] Harry's Diary - JHyde - 06-12-2009 11:26 AM

OK, now I'm just really hungry but I'll have a go at discussing it anyway.

I really do love this book. It provides wonderful backstory to so much of Harry's life after entering MI5, and it's fascinating to see how he viewed certain events as they happened, particularly the coal miners' strike and the Iranian hostage crisis. The moments involving his family, particularly in 1996, are very moving and I love how he took Catherine to Berlin in '89. That's a very Harry thing to do, I think, especially because as we now know, he must have been in the process of creating Sugarhorse around that time. It's also very sad reading about how they had to deal with Helen's family.

I do think the ghostwriter slips in and out of character a little, especially in the book's latter third. (I actually suspect it was written by two people.) There are some more snobby remarks made that aren't really in keeping with Harry, and sometimes he comes across as more condescending than the Harry we know - such as describing Ruth's "quick *little" wit" and Catherine as a "silly, little girl", neither of which really merited that. Harry rarely condescends and when he does it's not usually to members of his team.

There are some glaring problems with continuity. It's a significant error that the "We never resign, let's make that a deal between us, OK?" is attributed to Juliet, not Harry. Juliet would never do anything so magnanimous, and I always thought it was typical of how Harry looks out for people who should have his back but don't....look at how Juliet hung him out to dry just months later. There are others, mainly timeline related, but they niggle at me.

I agree that there is a problem with how they do the timing at the end of the book with Catherine. There is no way Harry was absent from MI5 for at least 3 months immediately after Ruth's exile, not least because the "Ruth Evershed affair" is still current enough for Neil to use it in silencing Sally's fears (in 5.6). Plus if you look at the entry for the 7th August 2006, he definitely didn't identify Ruth on a different day from when she left the country. (It's also a bit weird that Harry enters two narratives on the 6th and 7th - how did he write his diary in prison? He would have just written the one entry and talked about yesterday.) So that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth as it's poor editing, and especially because so much of the book is really great.

I also found it strange that Ros wasn't even mentioned until that last story, and that his encounter with Ruth in the hotel's hallway in 5.4 wasn't mentioned. Maybe they ran out of steam in the seaason 5 stories.....it's possible that the book was basically written until the season 5 scripts or storylines were handed over so that we heard how the H+R story "ended". At least until season 8. I think it quite possible they weren't actually working from the script, but simply from writers' meetings or markups, which would explain the problems in continuity.

I really did like the addition of the Catherine storyline, it just didn't fit timewise. It felt a bit tacked on. I did like how Juliet and Catherine were woven into the book all the way through, and it's interesting how Harry still considers Jane a member of his family in 2004/2005 when the 3.3 episode is talked about. (He also does the same thing in 7.7.)

Given my on adventures at the moment, one of my favourite stories is the organization and execution of the bucks weekend for Archie, which is truly hilarious. Possibly my favourite part of the book.

I don't know what the other books are like that Kudos has published, but I really did enjoy this one. I am curious to know who did the legwork, and if I ever talk to any of the major writers on the show, I will try and find out.

RE: [spoilers] Harry's Diary - almh - 06-12-2009 12:39 PM

I agree with you - the parts that we've seen (ie in the Spooks series,) weren't as well written overall as the parts that we didn't know about.

RE: [spoilers] Harry's Diary - JHyde - 06-12-2009 01:24 PM

Not entirely. It was a little like one person wrote all the good stuff and then someone came in and "embellished" it, inserting various sections throughout. Some sections in the show's timeline were done really well.

I think you and I should write fan fic Harry's Diary entries!

RE: [spoilers] Harry's Diary - almh - 06-12-2009 01:26 PM

Good idea Smile

RE: [spoilers] Harry's Diary - JHyde - 06-12-2009 01:32 PM

I'm really sorry that the diary didn't go further on. It would have been wonderful to hear Harry's reaction to Juliet's defection and Ros' departure.