Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Charles McCarry’s Paul Christopher novels

with 19 comments

A note on the reading sequence: although the publication dates are out of sequence, the events in The Secret Lovers actually precede those in The Tears of Autumn. So I recommend that you read them in this order:

  1. The Miernik Dossier (1973)
  2. The Secret Lovers (1977)
  3. The Tears of Autumn (1974)
  4. The Better Angels (1979) (Christopher family)
  5. The Last Supper (1983)
  6. The Bride of the Wilderness (1988 ) (historical novel concerning the Christopher family)
  7. Second Sight (1991)
  8. Shelley’s Heart (1995) (Christopher family)
  9. Old Boys (2004)
  10. Christopher’s Ghosts (2007)

It is very much worth noting that Charles McCarry wrote novels in addition to the Paul Christopher novels. I’m now reading The Shanghai Factor, and it’s terrific. Just read the first few pages using Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature and you’ll be hooked—or at least I was.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 June 2008 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Books

19 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Thank you as I read one out of order – Just finished The Last Supper. Appreciate your interest.

    Joel Rogers

    12 November 2011 at 9:29 pm

  2. Interesting novels, eh?


    12 November 2011 at 10:09 pm

  3. A friend of Mr McCarry’s gave me The Miernik Dossier and I’m quite interested in reading the rest of the Christopher series. After much confusion about the sequence of the series I stumbled upon your blog. Thanks!


    22 November 2011 at 1:11 pm

  4. You’re welcome. Fascinating series.


    22 November 2011 at 1:17 pm

  5. Why not read them in order of writing and publication?


    17 July 2012 at 9:30 am

  6. @kemoly: From the post above:

    A note on the reading sequence: although the publication dates are out of sequence, the events in The Secret Lovers actually precede those in The Tears of Autumn. So read them in this order:


    17 July 2012 at 9:33 am

  7. I understand your point about the sequence of events but, as I understand it, the publication dates are the order in which the books were written. If that’s so, the publication sequence would be the order in which the author intended them to be read. As I’m finishing The Tears Of Autumn, I’ve yet to decide how to proceed.


    19 July 2012 at 10:15 am

  8. I have no idea about the author’s intentions. It’s possible, for example, that the story idea for The Secret Lovers came to him as he was finishing The Tears of Autumn, so he necessarily had to publish them out of sequence. If you have information about the author’s intentions regarding the order in which to read the novels, I’d be interested. And clearly you can read them in any order you please; the post was merely to point out the story sequence, and I included the publishing dates for those who want to follow that.


    19 July 2012 at 10:29 am

  9. No spoilers, please.


    21 July 2012 at 11:14 am

  10. does moroni appear in any novel other than the secret lovers?

    cliff probst

    21 July 2012 at 2:30 pm

  11. Sorry, I will not discuss plots or details.


    21 July 2012 at 2:32 pm

  12. Thank you!! I’d rather read chronologically to keep with character development.


    24 September 2013 at 8:35 am

  13. “Chronologically” is somewhat ambiguous in this context: there’s the chronological order of publication, and also the chronological order of events depicted in the novels, and as noted in the post, they are different (in the case of one novel). Enjoyable series. Wonder why no movies? They seem a natural.


    24 September 2013 at 8:44 am

  14. Read these is the sequence recommended. What is told in these extraordinary, heart-wrenching, conscience-disturbing novels — and that is far more than you can imagine when you begin the journey, especially with the somewhat thinner (if you will) Miernik Dossier as the beginning, which it turns out it is not — cannot be disclosed or stated in any simple, straight line way. The novels cover multi-generational family territory, and not sequentially either. Think of a rose. It is what it is, but, if one delicately pulls it apart (never mind who would do this), petal by petal, one finds the same thing, but not quite the same thing as one goes deeper into the flower. What is related in these novels (profoundly revealing about human beings, love, honor, courage, betrayal, ambition, and more, to say nothing of the ways the different cultures and histories involved are portrayed) varies with the character in the novel experiencing or telling what is happening or has happened — the facts that person has or thinks he or she has at the time, who and where that person is, how he or she fits in (or doesn’t), that person’s motives and place in things, and the like. Traces of what you learn in earlier books, and foreshadowings of things not yet told, show up with some frequency, are remembered, and returned to, often in depth, at some other time in a later novel. This causes you, the reader, if you remember them, as you should, to wonder whether that is exactly what was said before, whether you saw it that way when you first read of it, whether the differences, when you find them ( there are not very many as to straight facts), were intentional, if so, for what purpose, and so on. A lot like real life, you know? “Enjoyable” hardly does justice to these. One reading is unlikely to be enough — so keep them around.


    23 January 2014 at 6:52 am

  15. Sorry! Error above to be corrected: I’d read them in the order published, not with Secret Lovers ahead of Tears of Autumn. I agree, though, that it might not make much difference when all is said and done.


    23 January 2014 at 6:58 am

  16. I am of the sort who doesn’t like the “previews” in some series: “Next time…” and then we see a series of scenes and actions that will occur in the next installment. I prefer to hit them fresh. So if you read in the order of publication, rather than in the chronology of the story events, you will be informed ahead of time of certain things that you might prefer not to know before you read the story itself.

    But: tastes differ. My own recommendation, though, remains: Read The Secret Lovers before The Tears of Autumn. My thought is that it was only after The Tears of Autumn that McCarry realized what he had with this story, and as the outlines of the full scope of the work took shape, he realized that he needed a novel that occurred before the events in The Tears of Autumn (the second novel he wrote), and so he wrote it at once—but necessarily it is then published out of the sequence of the story. I see no reason to be bound by the publication dates.


    23 January 2014 at 8:11 am

  17. What happens in Secret Lovers are burning, shattering, life changing experiences for Paul Christopher. It would be fair to wonder, if one had not already read Tears of Autumn, whether, after absorbing what he does and what happens to him in Secret Lovers, he will be able to go on at all. But one already knows he can and will, having read Tears of Autumn first. This device, going forward with a current set of circumstances and then dipping into long, revealing stretches of the past, where survival is also often in question, is used in most of these novels. It is McCarry’s way of conveying more about what and why his characters are doing, thinking, and feeling in their current set of circumstances. Secret Lovers can be seen the same way, a telling journey into Paul Christopher’s past that fleshes out what one knows of him after Tears of Autumn — which is a great deal, unlike the slender sketch one has of him after the Miernik Dossier. (In this, I am reminded of how little one knows about Smiley in the great Le Carre books after The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.) Bride of the WiIderness, telling us as much as it does about the family stock that produced a Paul Christopher and others in his family in the first place, going back several generations to do so, can be thought of the same way. If one does not like foreshadowing in the novels in the sequence written, one might feel compelled to read that one, dealing with family history long preceding Paul Christopher, a novel that can and does stand on its own, first of all. But I wouldn’t recommend it. It won’t matter much if you do, though, as I’ve noted above. Just read them all.


    24 January 2014 at 5:37 am

  18. Anybody know where I can find a genealogy of the characters? Or would that be cheating? I should have taken notes from the beginning, I guess.


    20 January 2017 at 5:50 pm

  19. I did a little searching and didn’t turn up anything. Perhaps I should reread them and compile a genealogy. At the very least, it would give me a reason to reread them. 🙂


    21 January 2017 at 1:08 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.