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Hi

Could you please help me with the highlighted lines?

When Lady Ann Sercomb married George Smiley towards the end of the war she described him to her astonished Mayfair friends as breathtakingly ordinary. When she left him two years later in favour of a Cuban motor racing driver, she announced enigmatically that if she hadn't left him then, she never could have done; and Viscount Sawley made a special journey to his club to observe that the cat was out of the bag. (Does it mean that the new groom went to his club to check if the people knew about his marriage?)

This remark, (which remark? breathtakingly ordinary?) which enjoyed a brief season as a mot, can only be understood by those who knew Smiley. Short, fat and of a quiet disposition, he appeared to spend a lot of money on really bad clothes, which hung about his squat frame like skin on a shrunken toad. Sawley, in fact, declared at the wedding that "Sercomb was mated to a bullfrog in a sou'wester." And Smiley , unaware of this description, had waddled down the aisle in search of the kiss that would turn him into a Prince.

http://www.staff.u-szeged.hu/~gnovak/01spyfcfd1.html

Thanks,

Tom
Comments  
and Viscount Sawley made a special journey to his club to observe that the cat was out of the bag. (Does it mean that the new groom went to his club to check if the people knew about his marriage?-- Yes... I guess. Your extract doesn't associate Sawley with anyone else mentioned.)

This remark, (which remark? breathtakingly ordinary?-- Perhaps, but I think this one: 'if she hadn't left him then, she never could have done'.)
Many thanks, MM!

Here is the continuation of the story. Could you please help me understand the yellow lines?

Was he rich or poor, peasant or priest? Where had she got him from? The incongruity of the match was emphasised by Lady Ann's undoubted beauty, its mystery stimulated by the disproportion between the man and his bride. But gossip must see its characters in black and white, equip them with sins and motives easily conveyed in the shorthand of conversation. And so Smiley, without school, parents, regiment or trade, without wealth or poverty, travelled without labels in the guard's van of the social express, and soon became lost luggage, destined, when the divorce had come and gone, to remain unclaimed on the dusty shelf of yesterday's news.

Thanks again,

Tom
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Mr. TomBut gossip must see its characters in black and white, equip them with sins and motives easily conveyed in the shorthand of conversation.

And so Smiley, without school, parents, regiment or trade, without wealth or poverty, travelled without labels in the guard's van of the social express, and soon became lost luggage,

In order to gossip about someone, people need easy labels to describe them. No one knew much about Smiley's background, or any other identifying characteristics that made him a good subject for gossip, so they eventually forgot about him.

Thanks, Khoff!

...and my apologies for the coming daft question.

Tell me, would many native speakers walking down the street find the lines you explained to me easy--I mean, are these lines easy to understand (for native speakers or high school students?)

Tom
Please tell me what this phrase means:

...its characters in black and white...

Tom
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Mr. Tomin black and white
as all good or as all bad.

CJ
Mr. TomTell me, would many native speakers walking down the street find the lines you explained to me easy--I mean, are these lines easy to understand (for native speakers or high school students?)
It depends on the street they're walking down! Emotion: smile

Averaging from the most to the least educated in the US, for example, I would say that those lines are not at all easy to understand, not to mention the fact that 99% of Americans would find them so dreadfully dull that they wouldn't bother to read them. Emotion: smile

I would say that those lines are of intermediate difficulty for fairly educated people. Most high school students around here would barely understand a phrase of it.

CJ