The English Girl : a novel

by Daniel Silva

Hardcover, 2013

Call number




New York : HarperCollins Publishers, [2013]


The wayward son of Israeli intelligence, Gabriel Allon is plunged into a high stakes game of murder, espionage, and corruption after a beautiful young British woman vanishes on the island of Corsica, which threatens to destroy a prime minister's career.

User reviews

LibraryThing member repb
Silva has long been one of my top five favorite authors. The English Girl is consistent in quality reading value as are his others. I have the feeling, however, he was aiming for a slightly different ending on this one and changed his mind. A few oddball loose ends. It is obvious Silva has paved the way for Allon's entrance into a different phase of his life as more of a leader than an executioner (so to speak). And now, with a set on twins on the way, who knows if we will ever hear of him again.… (more)
LibraryThing member pattysp
Kept me guessing till the end....a good read.
LibraryThing member nbmars
This writer is much better than the usual mediocre fare one finds in massive amounts in airports and other purveyors of fast-food-books. I didn’t even know, before reading it, that this book is in fact the 13th in a series featuring “the legendary Israeli spy and assassin” Gabriel Allon, but a lack of knowledge of the previous twelve didn’t affect my ability to enjoy the book in the slightest.

Gabriel Allon is contacted to conduct a very sensitive mission for the British. Madeline Hart, a beautiful young up-and-coming star in the British governing party, has been kidnapped. To make matters worse, she happens to be the mistress of British Prime Minister Jonathan Lancaster. Graham Seymour, Deputy Director of Britain’s MI5 (analogous to the American FBI) calls upon Allon to help deal with the situation because if MI5 or MI6 (the intelligence service) got involved, it would leak. In addition, Seymour told Allon, “you’re also damn good at finding things...”

The kidnappers have left a note for Lancaster giving him seven days to meet their demands or Madeline will die. The British haven’t the slightest idea even who the kidnappers are, or how they knew about Madeline. So Allon not only has to race against the clock, but do it in the most unfavorable circumstances imaginable. He knows just who to recruit, however, to help him accomplish the impossible, and he takes off for the Isle of Corsica, where Madeline was last seen. From this beautiful island just off the South of France, the trail leads to Provence and elsewhere, as Allon risks his life to find the girl, find her kidnappers, or in the worse case scenario, avenge her death.

Discussion: An "Author’s Note" after the story talks about the political situation in both Britain and Russia which play a role in the story. The issues are quite timely, especially given the current escalation in unhappy relations among the U.S., Britain, and Russia. You may, in fact, have heard of the case of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian whistleblower who had alleged there was a multimillion-dollar embezzlement schemesanctioned and carried out by Russian officials.. He was then arrested on what many were convinced were fabricated charges of tax fraud and subsequently beaten to death. Russia’s own human rights agency found that Magnitsky was tortured in prison and denied medical care. In retaliation, the U.S. Congress, rarely able to agree on anything, managed to come together in December 2012 to pass the bipartisan Magnitsky Act, which imposed sanctions on 18 Russians involved in Magnitsky’s detention. In response, the Russian government blocked any adoptions of Russian children by U.S. citizens, and also came up with their own list of 18 people banned from entering Russia. (They include some names associated with human rights violations at Guantanamo, as well as some U.S. officials involved in the prosecution and trial of Russian arms and drugs smugglers who are serving prison time in the United States.)

Silva is outspokenly in the camp that believes that Vladimir Putin is leading Russia on a “steady descent into authoritarianism.” This outlook, definitely shared by most media in the U.S. and Britain, informs the background of the story.

JAF's Evaluation: This book has a nice build-up of tension, intrigue, and danger; a very appealing hero in Allon; plenty of action, and some touching moments as well. I also like the humor the author employs to lighten the story - much better than the usual boring diversionary subplot. There’s a small bit involving a fortune-teller I would have omitted, but I like to keep paranormal elements strictly closed off in their own genre.

JAB's Impression: While the story kept me turning the pages, I find that LeCarre (to whom Silva has been compared) is much more nuanced, and draws his characters with more depth. LeCarre writes about people with real human-like limitations. This book is about cartoon characters. In LeCarre's books, no one is physically capable of doing anything that several of these characters routinely do. I loved the Jewish humor repartee, but like Jill, I would have cut out the fortune-teller part. But this book definitely provides a quick, entertaining read.
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LibraryThing member shazjhb
still hard to guess the ending of his stories.
LibraryThing member khiemstra631
I thought this installment in the Gabriel Allon series had a slightly different feel to it than many of the earlier books. This one has numerous humorous moments throughout the book. Gabriel is living quietly in Jerusalem when Shamron comes with a request that he look for a missing English girl who was snatched from the island of Corsica as a favor to the British. What makes this girls special is that she was the prime minister's mistress. As part of the deal, Gabriel will become head of the Israeli spy agency after the next election. With much hesitation and regret, Gabriel accepts. Thus begins a journey across numerous countries with lots of plot twists and turns. Not a lot can be said about the plot without giving too much away. It's a good read and definitely not to be missed by fans, both old and new, of Gabriel Allon.… (more)
LibraryThing member utbw42
Easily one of the best 2 or 3 books I've read this year so far. The more Silva I read, the more I'm convinced he's the master right now in the classic international thriller genre. The plot of Russia destabilizing the U.K. government to acquire oil drilling rights in the North Sea is a master stoke, and one that the reader can easily see happen in today's world. Gabriel Allon continues to be one of the best constructed leading characters in just about any book one reads, said spy being put in charge of finding a kidnapped mistress of Great Britain's PM. Her disappearance ties in neatly with Russia's treacherous plot...and everything basically goes to hell in a handbasket the rest of the book. Highly recommended...… (more)
LibraryThing member librarian1204
This series has another very good addition. Moving across Europe and beyond a familiar cast of characters work to retain the good name of an English Prime Minister. After 13 books, it feels like a home coming to read another Gabriel Allon adventure. Always exciting, filled with intrigue and interspersed with history lessons.
LibraryThing member Judiex
I wish the real world had someone like Gabriel Allon--art restorer, spy, and master assassin–(though it would be nice to avoid the last category) who was able to solve kidnappings, capture criminals, and expose corruption as quickly and completely as he does. We don’t, so we have to settle for imaginary ones.
In THE ENGLISH GIRL, a beautiful, intelligent young woman, Madeline Hart, was on vacation in Corsica with friends from work when she disappeared. Madeline worked for England’s Prime Minister and was on her way to notable success in government but her disappearance is not reported to the usual authorities. With an election coming up, the Prime Minister, Jonathan Lancaster, doesn’t want the story publicized because it might harm his chances of reelection: Madeline is his mistress.
A month later, he received a ransom note with very little information but saying if the demands weren’t met, she would be killed in seven days. Gabriel Allon was called in but Lancaster and his close advisor, Jeremy Fallon, refused to follow Allon’s advice for the negotiation. The kidnappers demand they want $10,000,000 pounds to be delivered by Allon. He agreed to be the courier and built a team to help determine who kidnapped her and why as well.
Just when everything should be settled, everything fell apart instead. (Hint: in a book of almost 475 pages, you know it won’t be solved by page 212.)
The plot takes him to Corsica, France, England and Russia where he met several characters from previous books and introduces some new ones. Like all of Daniel Silva’s books, there are many twists and things are not always what they seem to be. The end of the book points to a different life for Allon. Should be very interesting.
The wonderful writing is fast-paced cohesive. Once you know the motive or the probable bad guy, Silva keeps you wondering what Gabriel is going to do with that information. My only complaint is that Silva has fallen victim to the current writing practice of underestimating (I hope) the intelligence of his readers by having short chapters and repeating information previously presented as the characters mentally review what they know.
He refers to several of his previous Allon books when he introduces some of the characters and location that were in those books but those references don’t leave you wondering what he’s talking about. A new reader might be encouraged to read some of the previous ones and veteran fans might want to reread them to capture what they’ve forgotten.
THE ENGLISH GIRL proves why Daniel Silva’s books consistently appear on the New York Times bestsellers list.
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LibraryThing member norinrad10
The beauty of Daniel Silva's book is that they are all not epic. Some are just very good. What this does is make his epic books even greater. The English Girl is not epic, but it is an extremely enjoyable read. Gabriel is back at it with his team and the addition of a new member, a Corsican connected assassin. I encourage all to get their adventure on and join Gabriel Allon on this mission. I believe the next one will be truly epic.… (more)
LibraryThing member MSWallack
I enjoyed this Silva novel, probably more than I have some of his more recent efforts. For one thing, even though the story was compressed in time, Silva allowed it to unfold a bit more leisurely. Second, he seemed not to feel constrained to strictly follow the formula that he's established in recent books. Sure we have the obligatory scenes of Allon's team gearing up and planning, but I felt that Silva recognized that his faithful readers already know the characters and planning progress, so he felt free to spend less time on that aspect of the story. I also liked his use of some of the secondary characters (again, no spoilers). My only criticism (and it's minor) was the use of the psychic. I have no problem with Allon humoring the woman or the islanders by allowing her to read his fortune; but it seemed out of character for Allon to put such stock in that fortune. And I was a bit uncomfortable (wrong word, probably, but hey, it's my review!) with Silva choosing to have that psychic apparently have real ... um ... gifts? But, like I said, a minor criticism at most.

A good book overall. Once again, though, this book should only be read in sequence after other books in the series as a casual reader might be lost with the ongoing themes and recurring characters dominating much of the story.
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LibraryThing member JGoto
This drama of political espionage kept me riveted, but when it was all over, I knew that it's not a book I will long remember. None of the characters held any real interest for me. I understand this is a series featuring the main character, Gabriel Allon. There were references throughout the book to his previous adventures. Perhaps Silva made Allon more sympathetic and three dimensional in previous novels, but I think that should be done in each and every book in a series, or the series should be abandoned for a fresh start.… (more)
LibraryThing member labdaddy4
Another excellent book by Daniel Silva following the path of Israeli super operative Gabriel Allon. Each book - this is the 13th - expands the story of the primary character a little bit more. The main player gets broader and more complex with each book. While the stories are great - with all kinds of plot twists and surprises - the gradual development of Allon makes the series worth the journey. There are not too many authors able to maintain freshness when following a primary character for so many books. Silva does it right.… (more)
LibraryThing member Kathy89
It's an intriguing story but not my kind of book. Gabriel Allon, 'retired' Israeli spy, now art restorer is asked a favor to rescue the British Prime Minister's mistress. He puts together a team of former agents and assassins to rescue the woman. Of course, there's a hidden blackmail agenda and not just a kidnap for money plot involving corrupt Russians. Complicated with a lot of twists and turns. The reader was excellent.… (more)
LibraryThing member creighley
Gabriel Allon has been called to London to help. The Prime Minister is being bribed over an affair . The woman has been kidnapped and Russian involvement becomes apparent.
LibraryThing member readafew
I thought the English girl was pretty good, one of the better Gabriel Allon books in a while. It was quite a bit less grisly than the last few I read and it had a good mystery to it to keep you guessing what's going to happen next. I think Silva was getting tired of the blood baths and decided to look into a little more finesse. I personally think it worked well and I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

A public worker from England is kidnapped on Corsica. Gabriel Allon is brought in as a favor to the British Prime Minister to help find her before the deadline where they threaten to kill her. He fails. It eats at him, and he has suspicions. Not the least of which is how where some kidnappers able to easily out wit him. He decides to go back and take another look. Something stinks and it doesn't add up. It's a wild ride.
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LibraryThing member joelcl2011
Enjoyed this book. His last few novels were a bit of a letdown for me. I like that for once he didn't spend pages on background of characters that have appeared in earlier stories and we finally see a bit of humor in the characters.
LibraryThing member librarymary09
Boy, this guy can write well. Couldn't put it down.
LibraryThing member 400mom
I am a big fan of this series and this, the 13th and newest, was just as satisfying as the first. I always feel that Daniel Silva must know someone in a very high place to come up with the story lines. This book does make lots of references back to earlier stories. It would be interesting as a stand-alone, but I think it would be better to start with an earlier book if you are new to the series. There were several interesting twists and the ending sets the story up so well for the follow-up. Highly recommended… (more)
LibraryThing member neddludd
Silva describes espionage as a team sport. There are dominant teams--such as the CIA and KGB; there are also successful small-market teams, like Great Britain and Israel. Frequently in this schema, Israel is able to compete--and defeat--the league's dominant teams. The continuing character Gideon Allon, a superstar spy, returns to solve what appears to be a simple crime. As the story unfolds, it's revealed that the kidnapping he's investigating is much more complex than it seems. So the Israelis take the field again against the Russians, and with a free-agent on their team the action shifts to Russia, where the game is played using Moscow Centre rules. Russia and Moscow are depicted as a kind of death star, but the Israeli's, using technology and chutzpah, solve the puzzle and in the process reveal startling, unexpected developments that are really quite brilliant. There's some tension, but as in past Allon tales, it's a given what the final score will be. This also might be described as an espionage procedural. It is totally plot-driven and quite enjoyable. What is lacking is the interior life of the players presented in a way that provides context to their heroics. This is mass-market literature rather than a multi-dimensional novel that happens to spotlight spies. The reader tracks action in Corsica, London, Paris, and Moscow, and gets a quick primer on British politics. Silva's work resembles Grisham's--and a well-crafted page-turner is a wonderful thing once in a while.… (more)
LibraryThing member Randall.Hansen
The English Girl is the first Daniel Silva novel I have read and I rather enjoyed both the political and spy vs. spy intrigue as well as the humor. It's the story of a scandal involving the Prime Minister of Britain, but the travels take us to Corsica, France, Israel, and Russia.
LibraryThing member buffalogr
In the last story before Gabriel's apparent rise to the head of "the office," he takes on the Russian oligarchy and leadership. Of course, it works and all turns out well. The turns of fate around the English girl are exciting and the climax is fun and keeps you in the game. There were several references to Gabriel's future job and it got kinda old. But, makes you wonder? Enjoyed the… (more)
LibraryThing member skraft001
A pleasant enough read. Other than Madeline Hart in the beginning part, didn't bond much with the characters. So, when it came to the 'climatic' part of the book I really wasn't emotionally invested enough to care whether characters lived or died. Too many characters and shallowly developed.
LibraryThing member johnwbeha
One of the very best in the Gabriel Allon series; this is the ultimate page turner, the as ever complex plot twists and turns from Corsica and Israel through France to England and to Russia. This is perhaps the most personal story in the series, telling us more about Gabriel's personal beliefs than Israeli politics. Where will the series go next- wait and see is all I can say.… (more)
LibraryThing member DGRachel
A solid spy thriller, The English Girl has all of the elements and characters I've come to expect and love from this series. This is not, however, the best of the series to date, and was surprisingly and disappointingly predictable.
LibraryThing member kimkimkim

"By way of I deception, my son, thou shalt do war."

Another brilliant, fast paced, thought provoking read in the Gabriel Allon series..




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