The most impressive aspect is the self-examination, described late in the story. Was all the effort poured into Cold War intelligence work worth it? Did it stop wars? Did we do it because they did? Or was it a case of politicians wanting to thin they are "one up" on the other fellow? And his European outlook is so refreshing. Reminds me of the heyday of Robert Maxwell's newspaper, The European". Maxwell's story is somehow akin to the world of Mr. Smiley, but will probably never be told.
What's all this guff about him not being an 'artist' and 'at its best, operates at a high literary level?'
When is the poor man to be rid of snarky comments? Possibly the best policy is to have a journalist review him, rather than the rat pack of other, less successful, writers. Le Carré has earned the right to be gloriously appreciated without the endlessly snide bollocks debate about genre writing.
Is there any clue as the year in which this book is set? Because if it is set in 2017 (or thereabouts) George Smiley would be well over 100.
It is clear from Le Carré's earliest novels that Smiley had left "his unimpressive school" in the 1920s and been recruited, while at his "unimpressive Oxford College" by the "Overseas Committee for Academic Research" on "a sweet July morning in 1928." As such I'd be expecting George to be celebrating his 110th birthday about now. Perhaps Peter Guillam, who must be well into his 80s, merely imagined his old colleague - the way old people have conversations with the dearly departed dead, because they seem more real than those who are left alive. Le Carré employs two layers of flashback to get us into the appropriate time period.
If you're into Spy Fiction. read on.