Review: The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad


The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad, Wordsworth Classics Edition, 1993 (orig. pub. 1907), 256p.

In my pursuit of completing the Classics Club Challenge I have committed to reading two novels by Joseph Conrad. I had both books in my club spin and The Secret Agent happened to be the book that was picked I’m glad, because I wasn’t about to pick it up by myself.

I do read a lot of spy and action novels so The Secret Agent was not a difficult book for me to read. However, there was little intrigue. It was obvious what had happened as soon as it occurred. I will not spoil the plot twist, because it would be disappointing to know what happens going into this novel, but it was very paint by the numbers. for me, at least. I’m not sure how many espionage thrillers were published when TSA was released, so for its time it could have been ground breaking!

The main character was well written but certainly not one of my favourites. I would not invite him to a dinner party. His wife on the other hand was spectacular, she was a breath of fresh air. She constantly surprised me and made me laugh. She certainly does not disappoint and I would recommend this novel to anybody who likes strong and strange female characters in their Victorian fiction.

I am now looking forward to reading Heart of Darkness which is sitting on my bookshelf taunting me because I have been scared of reading Conrad which is silly, I’ve read some much more intimidating texts over the years! My biggest pet peeve is the cover of the Wordsworth edition – it features an old motorcar, but one that had not yet been released. Also, not a single car appears in this novel. Just one of those pet peeves I suffer from!

I enjoyed The Secret Agent and rated it four stars. I’m happy wit my recent progress of the Classics Club Challenge, I have made real headway in this past month, and hope to read lots more classics over the winter.


  1. I’d be annoyed by the cover too! Can’t stand when the cover picture is totally irrelevant, and in this case, anachronistic! It’s so annoying.. I tend to go and look for another one, I’m so thingy about it.

    1. You know, I didn’t even notice it when I picked up this copy- I just saw that it was a book I wanted to read… But once I noticed, it kept bugging me! I’m thinking I’d have to buy a new copy if I was going to reread it… But then I keep telling myself that is silly. Maybe I’d borrow a different copy from the library! But it was a good read anyway, I was surprised.

  2. Your comments on the car make me chuckle. I think it’s a lovely cover, but if it didn’t match the story, I too would be fixated. 😀

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