The mystery of The Moneypenny Diaries has intrigued James Bond fans since the novel’s Amazon.co.uk listing was uncovered earlier this year. Now, Times Online reports Ian Fleming Publications (IFP) has given publisher John Murray the green light to proceed with the novel’s publication.
Earlier attempts by CBn to get to the bottom of the Moneypenny Diaries mystery had proven fruitless, with IFP appearing to be unaware of its existence. As the book’s planned 10 October 2005 release neared, IFP have given their approval for the publication of the book, which is edited by one Kate Westbrook. The book is the first in a trilogy of novels.
“There has always been conjecture that James Bond novels may not have been strictly fictional and we have therefore read Westbrook’s book with a great deal of interest,” said IFP managing director Corrine Turner. “We always take protection of our intellectual property seriously and, in normal circumstances, would have stopped this book. However, after detailed negotiations with John Murray we have reached an agreement to allow this project to receive the public attention it deserves.”
Like John Pearson’s James Bond: The Authorised Biography of 007, the hook here is that Miss Moneypenny (whose first name, the book reveals, is Jane) was a real person who played a key role in the build-up to the Cuban Missile Crisis. In fact, the book’s “true story” approach reportedly caused quite a stir, forcing John Murray’s managing director, Roland Philipps to admit the novel is fiction.
“It’s a spoof,” confessed Philipps. The publisher had reportedly strongly maintained the book was fact as Times Online worked to solve the mystery last week. Philipps had previously suggested the book would rewrite history of the Cuban Missile Crisis, revealing Britain to have a much larger role in the global event than previously thought.
“If this is fiction then it is very hard to tell the difference between fact and fiction,” said IFP’s Corinne Turner. “It’s very well put together. We were certainly led to believe by the publishers that there was a real Miss Moneypenny.”
The Moneypenny Diaries sheds new light on the lustrous world of 007. Purporting to use the name James Bond as a pseudonym for a genuine intelligence officer, the new novel tells the stories of ultra-secret operations that Fleming could not disclose. When Moneypenny “died”, her diaries were left to the new book’s editor, Kate Westbrook.
Yet, it seems Westbrook herself does not exist either. Times Online went to Trinity College, where Westbrook is purportedly a staff member (according to the publishers’ notes). The College, however, denied that a Kate Westbrook has ever worked there. The literary agent behind the book, Gillon Aitken, has confessed that Westbrook may be a pseudonym. “The author is, though, an academic at Trinity and she will be named when the book is published,” Aitken said.
From the dustjacket of The Moneypenny Diaries:
“My heart breaks for James..” – so begins the explosive, true, private diary of Miss Jane Moneypenny, Personal Secretary to Secret Service chief M. and colleague and confidante of James Bond.
From her colonial childhood in Kenya to her death in 1990, Jane Moneypenny led an extraordinary, clandestine life. Positioned at the heart of British intelligence she had a ringside seat at the political intrigues that shaped world history. But, contrary to popular belief, she was not simply a bystander while James Bond saw all the action. As her diaries make startlingly clear, Miss Moneypenny played a central role in the build-up to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the threat of all-out nuclear war.
But a life of espionage has personal as well as political ramifications. For Jane Moneypenny, the price was high. Romantic relationships with outsiders were necessarily built on lies – sometimes on both sides – and you could not trust the motives of anyone. The impact of Jane Moneypenny’s career on her emotional life was even more profound as, with her access to classified information, she began to investigate the mysterious circumstances of her father’s presumed death while in service.
Guarding so many secrets and with no one to confide in, she found herself breaking the first rule of espionage. Unbeknownst to anyone, she kept a diary. This became an outlet for her innermost thoughts and, despite the risk of discovery, for state secrets. It should never have been made public…
Hardcover 240 pages
Publisher: John Murray