Authors: Westbrook / Wood
Bond Book Reviews: Christopher Wood
James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me ( 1977 )
( both published by Triad/Panther Books )
Dug this out of the old paperback collection to read again when past commuting to London.
The author is co-writer of the screenplay with Richard Maibaum, so if you go by the cover you'll be expecting another Book of the Film - WRONG ! Wood decides to set the story in the Fleming world of Bond with "the cruel smile" not the fantasy world of Moore with the witty one-liners. It's a pity the film's poster wasn't used for the cover, as at least then there would be some similarities.
The title is changed as not to clash with Fleming's story but follows the film's main narrative but without some of the over-the-top fantasy efforts. The characters are better developed with more background e.g. in one ending chapter, not in the film, the Russian agent Anya prays "do not let him kiss me again" - no not 007 but Jaws ! Poor James bleeds in this story and doesn't even get a jet-ski to rescue lovely Anya for the finale - think Japan arrival in YOLT.
It's not often that the book proves to be more enjoyable than the movie ( which was the sum of past parts ) but that's down to Wood's writing style. Alas the book may not be around to buy now but look out for it in libraries & book sales as well worth a read despite being 30 years old !
James Bond and Moonraker ( 1979 )
This time the publishers use one of the movie's posters for the cover to tell us that this is The Book of the Film! and despite being also the screenplay writer, Wood decides to keep the story in the Fleming world of Bond not the fantasy world of Moore with one-liners like "Play it again Sam" after the Venice fight.
As before, the title is changed as not to clash with Fleming's story but follows the film's main narrative but without some of the over-the-top fantasy efforts. There is no silly gondola hovercraft or romance for Jaws. Remember the slo-mo dog chase & death of chopper pilot, Corrine Clery ( in the book she's called Trudi Parker ), that's only briefly recalled by Goodhead. When James gets sent up the Amazoco in his little boat, the Q-craft, it doesn't take 5 minutes as in the movie but a few days with some interesting happenings.
The author yet again gives us a book which proves to be more enjoyable than the movie. It's a shame the Bond producers didn't keep closer to his narrative, it would have been a better movie and less costly. This book may not be around now but look out for it in libraries & book sales as a really good read despite being 28 years old ! My copy is showing signs of age and is falling apart in places.
Bond Book Review: Kate Westbrook
The Moneypenny Diaries - Final Fling ( 2008 )
( published by John Murray )
The third in a trilogy of books called The Moneypenny Diaries about "the affairs and adventures of James Bond's right-hand woman", the previous two ( Guardian Angel & Secret Servant ) are unread by this reviewer. It must be great being related to a famous character like Sherlock Holmes or James Bond, so author Kate Westbrook* is the niece of the world's most famous secretary Miss Moneypenny. *In real life she is actually writer Samantha Weinberg.
Told from two diary viewpoints, the 282 page book starts in 2007 with Kate advising us of the death of her aunt Jane Moneypenny in 1990 "a year short of her sixieth birthday". Having died in a boating accident and as her heir Kate has to identify her body in Scotland, so she starts to read through her diaries starting back in July 1964. Moneypenny has already broken the primary rule of the Secret Service by keeping a diary.
Along the way we encounter regular & familiar characters like M, Bond, Tanner and even Miss Goodnight who gets marriage advice from our Jane in Jamaica. The main plot is trying to reveal the identity of a traitor called the Sieve. By keeping and reading the diaries Dr Westbrook's life is endangered and seeks help and guidance from an insider called Macintyre. With trips from London to Scotland and Cambridge she tries to get to the bottom of the unsolved mystery of the 60s spy and more importantly her aunt's death.
It's a really good read and keeps you interested to the end with the traitor's identity. Also we get the chance to read about life's end or Final Fling of some of our favourite Fleming characters. There's even an end twist with another identity revealed. So if you enjoy the literary world of 007 you will enjoy this whether you buy it for £17.99, less now in sales or borrow it like me from your local library.