For legal reasons, The Spy Who Inspired Me does not mention J-mes B-nd. Which is a shame, because it is a
comedy based on the idea that I-n Fl-ming’s famously macho spy might
have been inspired by a woman…
It is April 1944, and chic armchair naval officer Ian Lemming (sic) is accidentally beached in Nazi-occupied Normandy. With no access to a razor or clean underwear, and deprived of his cigarettes, Lemming just wants to go home. But he is stranded with a young, though hugely experienced, female agent called Margaux Lynd, who is on a perilous mission to unmask traitors in a French Resistance network.
So, as she bullies him across France, Lemming receives a painful crash course in spy craft, and starts to fantasize about a fictional agent – male of course – who would operate only in the most luxurious conditions, and lord it over totally subservient women. A world-famous spy is born …
Stephen Clarke said: ‘In World War Two there really were female undercover agents who were ten times tougher and braver than Ian Fleming. I thought it would be great fun to send him (or rather, someone very like him) on a dangerous mission with one of these women who would show him what real spies got up to.’
Stephen Clarke has combined his knowledge of French history with a fondness for Ian Fleming’s novels (despite their old-school machismo) to create The Spy Who Inspired Me, set in the complex background of real Occupied France.
STEPHEN CLARKE is the bestselling author of the Merde series of comedy novels (A Year in the Merde, Merde
Actually, Dial M for Merde et al) which have been translated into more than 20 languages and sold more than
a million copies worldwide. Stephen Clarke has also written several serious-yet-humorous books on Anglo-French history, such as 1000 Years of Annoying the French (a UK
number-one bestseller in both hardback and paperback), How the French Won Waterloo (or Think They Did), and The French Revolution & What Went Wrong. He lives in Paris.
For more information about Stephen Clarke please visit: Website
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My thoughts: this was a very funny, highly entertaining book and I loved how smart, resourceful and sarcastic Margaux was, not a woman any man could flirt into bed. She’s utterly ruthless when she has to be and ten times the spy a certain 007 claims to be. She’s definitely not going to talk, and won’t even tell her unwanted companion the real mission she’s on.
Lemming is a bit less useful, a military man with a nice desk job in London, the son of a former MP who has led a very nice life in the inter war years, all cocktails and tail coats, and is not exactly prepared for sneaking around behind enemy lines and avoiding Nazis. He gets completely thrown by Margaux’s brilliance and wishes for a different kind of woman, the fantasy kind who doesn’t laugh at him and efficiently murder people.
I went through a phase when I was about 11 or 12 where I watched all the Bond films from the beginning and got quite fascinated by the world they portrayed, a mostly made up one to be quite fair, of sophisticated men in dinner suits and woman who all appeared to have knee issues that meant they went all wobbly when a man in a tux appeared. I understood it was all a lot of nonsense and completely ridiculous. I knew there were women who worked as spies and resistance in conflicts all over the world. A man in a nice suit stands out, a woman, well she might catch the eye but you’d be less likely to suspect her. Besides James B needs to retire, he’s been doing his thing for so long, it’s time to collect his pension. Time for Margaux’s spiritual granddaughters to handle business instead.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.