MI5 and Me

MI5 and Me

A Coronet Among the Spooks

Book - 2018
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From the bestselling author comes a beguiling comic memoir about a young woman who discovers her father is a spy (and was the model for John le Carré's George Smiley) and goes to work as a secretary in 1950s MI5.

It seems to me now that everyone who came to our house in those days was a spy. . .

When Charlotte Bingham, daughter of an obscure aristocrat, was summoned to her father's office aged eighteen, she never expected to discover that this aloof, soberly-dressed parent was a spy. Even more ominous than The Facts was his suggestion that she should stop drifting around working for the sort of people her mother could never ask to dinner and get a proper job, something patriotic and worthwhile.

So Lottie finds herself outside MI5's Mayfair offices in a dreary suit, feeling naked without her false eyelashes. Miserably assigned to the formidable Dragon, Lottie wishes for pneumonia, or anything to release her from the torment of typing. But as another secretary, the serene Arabella, starts illuminating the mysteries of MI5, and Lottie's home fills with actors doubling as spies, Lottie begins to feel well and truly spooked.

This hilarious memoir from the bestselling author of Coronet Among the Weeds is a window into 1950s Britain: a country where Russian agents infiltrate the highest echelons, where debutantes are typists and where Englishness is both a nationality and a code of behaviour. Discretion, honour and office politics meet secrecy, suspicion and film stars in this enchanting, extraordinary true story.

Publisher: London :, Bloomsbury Publishing,, 2018, ©2018.
ISBN: 9781408888148
9781408888155
Branch Call Number: 327. 12092 BIN B
Characteristics: 240 pages ; 23 cm

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gogo12127
Jul 29, 2018

“It is about time you got a proper job instead of drifting about in coffee bars and working for all sorts of people who your mother tells me she would never ask to dinner. So, I have made some enquiries and decided that the best place for you to work at a steady, worthwhile job is – MI5.”

Lottie thus finds herself outside the Mayfair headquarters of MI5 in a dreary suit, feeling naked without her false eyelashes. Miserably assigned to the formidable Dragon, Lottie longs to escape, for for anything to release her from the torment of the typing. Thankfully the serene Arabella is on hand to decode the enigmas of office life – from the strange disappearance of some security films to the career-transforming properties of garlic. As Lottie's home fills with actors doubling as spies, and Arabella's mother is besieged by fishy telephone calls, Lottie begins to feel well and truly spooked.

This unique memoir is a window into 1950s Britain: a country where Russian agents infiltrate the highest echelons, where debutantes are typists, and where Englishness is both a nationality and a code of behavior. Discretion and honor meet secrecy and suspicion.

Charlotte Bingham wrote her first book, Coronets Among the Weeds, a memoir of her life as a debutante at the age of nineteen. She went on the write a further memoir, Coronet Among the Grass. Her father, John Bingham, the 7th Baron Clanmorris, was a member of MI5, where Charlotte worked as a secretary. He was an inspiration for John le Carré's George Smiley.

Charlotte Bingham went on to write thirty-three internationally bestselling novels and, in partnership with her late husband Terence Brady, a number of successful plays, films, and TV series, including Upstairs, Downstairs. She lives in Somerset.

(Somewhat edited publisher description taken from the hardcover book jacket, as is the slightly edited author biography.)

This pretty much was a bore. It took an effort for me to get through this, although it did have some moments. I don't see how John Bingham was an inspiration for John le Carré's George Smiley. George Smiley is sort of a shadowy figure but a extremely competent civil servant. On the other hand, John Bingham seemed like a buffoon.

Like I said, however, this book had its moments, the mod scene of 1960s London and all that, so I might give one of the other books Charlotte Bingham wrote. In addition to the aforementioned books. She has written numerous stand-alone-novels, as well as several series. Lots to choose from.

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