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Love reading about Jamaica and I can t get enough of the unlikely friendship between Fleming and Noel Coward so I thoroughly enjoyed this book which places the Bond novels in the context of what s happening both in Jamaica and in Fleming s private life Five stars ust for the photo of Coward with Sean Connery honestly I love James Bond movies fast moving fantasy glitzy bad guys good guy always wins never a dull moment Goldeneye is the house in Jamaica that Ian Fleming built and where all the James Bond books were written The book details the life of Ian Fleming his friendships and the influence Jamaica had on his life and on his 007 books There s uite a bit of history thrown in as well as societal reflections of the day particularly relating to class and race It wasn t as absorbing a read as I would have expected I felt the writing didn t flow as fluidly as it could have was sometimes boring and ploddy and I had to steel myself to power on through But all in all I got the picture of an Ian Fleming on the island of Jamaica that heavily influenced his writing of one of my favorite spy series of all time After Andrew Lycett s exhaustive biography of Ian Fleming which is 20 years old believe it or not you may wonder what is left to learn of James Bond s creatorIn his new book Goldeneye Matthew Parker proves there is uite a bit left to learn Unlike the works of Lycett and John Pearson which remain the two indispensable Fleming biographies Parker s book is not a straightforward life story He instead focuses on Fleming s love for Jamaica and the vacation home he built there Goldeneye Pearson and Lycett certainly acknowledge that Jamaica was a major part of Fleming s life but Parker has time and space to devote to the author s time in Jamaica and he unearths aspects of the man not found by previous biographersFleming first visited Jamaica during a conference in World War II while he worked for British naval intelligence Before leaving he told his friend Ivar Bryce who would later figure in one of the biggest dramas of Fleming s life that he would buy a home on the island where he would vacation and write That home would become Goldeneye on Jamaica s north coast near Oracabessa When Fleming secured a London ournalism ob after the war he insisted upon and received two months paid vacation per year when I was a teenager reading about Fleming I found nothing remarkable about this Today I wonder at his power of persuasion Fleming would spend those two months from January to March at Goldeneye Parker details Fleming s life for those two months out of the year remarkably pinpointing Fleming s locations and activities during his time in Jamaica In some ways it is a biography of two months at a time each chapter usually focusing on a single yearParker also delves into Jamaican history pertinent to the island s hold on Fleming Britain lost India shortly after the Second World War but in the late 1940s and early 50s Jamaica seemed a sunny friendly outpost of the British Empire something that appealed to the nostalgic imperialist Fleming and provided the perfect spot for him to create his imperialist hero James BondAlthough Fleming hinted at the end of the war he wanted to write a spy novel he did not start banging away on his typewriter until his 1952 visit to Jamaica This coincided with his impending marriage to his longtime mistress Ann pregnant at the time and Fleming often blamed premarital itters for the creation of Bond But Parker finds evidence that Fleming was ready to write Casino Royale that winter regardless of his fleeting bachelorhoodThe portrait of the resulting marriage is familiar from Lycett s biography Ian and Ann Fleming were two people who loved each other deeply yet seemed addicted to damaging each other In Parker s book Goldeneye itself becomes an obstacle between them after Ann begins to loathe Jamaica and refuses to vacation there with her husband This allows Fleming to begin an affair with Blanche Blackwell a celebrated member of Jamaica s north coast society and it is hard to dispute a sympathetic partner for Fleming By this point Ann Fleming already was having a widely recognized affair with British politician Hugh GaitskillParker looks at the writing of each Bond book and the circumstances that surround their inception He pays closest attention to the three books set in Jamaica Live and Let Die Doctor No and The Man With the Golden Gun and how the island s shifting political situation is reflected in each titleParker s book is deeply researched but highly readable a uality it shares with Pearson s biography Dozens of books have been written about Fleming and Bond but new insights are hard to come by any Parker s Goldeneye is filled with them It is a worthy supplement to Pearson s and Lycett s thicker volumes. Onship with Ann Charteris and hers with Jamaica and the emergence of Blanche Blackwell as his Jamaican soulmate Goldeneye also compares the real Jamaica of the 1950s during the build up to independence with the island's portrayal in the Bond books to shine a light on the attitude of the likes of Fleming and Coward to the dramatic end of the British Empire.

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S failing marriage his struggles at being a father to a difficult child his long standing love affair with a woman from one of Jamaica s old families and even his failing health ust as the James Bond craze was skyrocketingIt s those other stories about the people and the changing world that surrounded Fleming that put context to Fleming s life and to his fictional creation James BondI admit being a Bond fan since I was very young and a bigger fan of the books than the movies I even found a curious connection of which I was unaware I knew that Fleming died on my 12th birthday August 12 1952 about six months before I discovered Bond in the dark of a local movie theater when I saw the movie Goldfinger But what I didn t know until I read the book was that Ian Fleming s only son Caspar a troubled young man who committed suicide by drug overdose at age 23 was born on the same day in the same year as me which of course meant that Ian Fleming died on his son s 12th birthday But even taking this connection into account this is one of the best books I ve read in the past several years It is a MUST READ So fascinating Parker does a wonderful ob of balancing the history of Jamaica the history of Bond and Fleming s own life details Read like fiction so much family drama political intrigue tragedy addiction beauty There are three reasons I bought and then read this book1 I love to read books that are historical in focus Its a bonus for me when the history that is being written about has a Jamaican or Caribbean focus 2 Matthew Parker s name on the cover of the book The process of reading Parker s excellent Sugar Barons was absorbing which was due in large part to the author s style and his selection of subject matter to include in a book that covered over 210 years of history in the English Caribbean colonies of Barbados the Leewards and Jamaica Parker writes history they way it should have always been written with sensitivity and courage to tell the truth no matter where it takes you 3 James Bond driven middle age nostalgia syndrome haha As a pre adolescent the first movie for grown ups that had a major impact on me was Live and Let Die The rollicking reggae spiced theme song by Paul McCartney Wings pulsating action suave laid back cool of Roger Moore in the face of danger menacing and formidable Afro American villains lusciously lovely ladies the beautiful charms of Gloria Hendry and Jane Seymour were unforgettably eye popping and the breathtaking Jamaican scenery used in the movie made a lasting impression on this young Jamaican lad Since that day in the mid 1970s Bond has been something of a guilty pleasure although in recent times Bond has for me at least lost a lot of the pull and appeal he once had growing up is a hell of a thing ehParker s Goldeneye was an awesome read Yes it is gossipy as some critics have observed but a lot of the gossip is subservient to the major story which is a depiction of the racial attitudes and s of upper middle class England during a climatic period of that country s history 1946 ust after World War II up to the mid 1970s The impact of the Cold War and Jamaica s own drive towards political independence on Flemming s story telling are admirably covered by Parker The overall theme in Goldeneye is that Flemming s James Bond books provided its English readers with an opportunity to escape from the harsh reality that the British Empire was not what it used to be as growing numbers of colonies in Asia and Africa gained their independence in the post World War II period Some of those in Flemming s circle actually express ugly sentiments as they come face to face with a self assured and confident Afro Jamaican populace in the 1950s who sense that independence is nearThe James Bond books all written by Flemming at Goldeneye on the north coast of Jamaica gave their English readers a sense that Britain still had it even though really she was losing her mojo because Bond is always shown to be the superspy to top all spies no matter where they hailed from the CIA and KGB not excluded One interesting insight is that the Bond in the books is not identical to the Bond of the movies at least in one particular his political views I will not state here what that difference is but let s say that the Bond of the books might well have voted Leave earlier this year whilst the Bond of the movies than likely would be with the Remain contingentI am very happy I bought and read this book The fans of the Bond books and movies will not be disappointed if they were to read it too interesting book which looks at both Jamaica and Ian Fleming the creator of James bond and both histories and how Fleming created the books at his haven Goldeneye the author looks at Flemings Imperial cravings away from the austere London post war Ost war hero The island was for Fleming part retreat from the world part tangible representation of his own values and part exotic fantasy It will examine his Jamaican friendships his extraordinary circle included Errol Flynn the Olivier's international politicians and British royalty as well as his close neighbor Noel Coward and trace his changing relati.

Interesting book primarily about how Jamaica influenced Ian Fleming as he wrote the James Bond novels Worth a read of you like Bond and r Jamaica The writing moves along and is easy reading The book fleshes out the man who created Bond and the times and circumstances that influenced his books The 50 s was a time of great political and social change in the West Indies and this book covers its impact on Jamaica Fleming had an eclectic group of friends and lovers and their interaction on the island is fascinating You ll feel like a fly on the wall at times I definitely would put this book in the curl up with a hot cup of tea and a couple of relaxing hours category Highly recommended if you are a Bond fan Goldeneye An ode to Fleming Bond and JamaicaIn 1943 a young naval intelligence officer was in Kingston for a conference when he promised to himself that he would come back and live on the island of Jamaica In 1946 Ian Fleming made good on that promise and so began a long love affair with Jamaica and the creation of one of the world s most famous literary and celluloid heroes James Bond In the eighteen years that Fleming owned Goldeneye his home during the cold winters of a dark and dank London winters all the Bond thrillers were written hereMatthew Parker does not idolise Goldeneye making false claims but paints a very clear picture of it as very much a harsh bachelor pad with very little in the way of comfort in the dying years of Imperial Jamaica when the Blacks were there to serve and not be heard All this comes across in the book and it must be remembered that Fleming was a man of his times the Empire had stood for the greatness of a people and the monarchy was its representation and was a force for goodWhen Fleming bought the land and designed Goldeneye there were no creature comforts no decent plumbing no windows or cupboards The one thing that does come across from this book is that Fleming wanted to communion with nature and be inspired by what was around him he took to Jamaica and Jamaica took to FlemingOne of the most interesting things about this book is not ust that the chapters are neatly broken up for the reader starting in 1946 and then eventually in to when each of the Bond Thrillers were written By doing this we are able to examine the events around Fleming s life at the time his loves and his struggles We also get an examination of Jamaica at a turning point in its history when things were changing from colonial back post to a leading Caribbean independent nation Parker also interviews many people who knew Fleming at the time which adds to the cache of this bookParker also examines our enduring love of both the books and the films I cannot heap too many superlatives on this multifaceted book It is a gem that far surpasses the expectation of simply being a book for James Bond fansThe book isn t neatly pigeon holed as a biography of Ian Fleming the creator of James Bond While Fleming is at the heart of the book it is so much richer deeper and nuanced than another bio It is part mid century British history Jamaican history British political history social commentary historical analysis of colonialism and the breakup of the British Empire cold war politics psychology sociology tawdry gossip of the sexual escapades of British upper class pop culture literary critiue not only of Fleming but also his neighbor Noel Coward who is discussed almost as much as Fleming and even a bit of musical history particularly related to Island Records which brought Bob Marley to the world stageAll of this is told in an engaging style that makes the book hard to put down Of course the book centers on Fleming Like his fictional alter ego he was a chain smoking 70 unfiltered cigarettes a day hard drinking half a bottle of gin a day womanizer During World War II where he served as a Naval intelligence officer Fleming made a trip for a meeting in Jamaica and fell in love with it Following World War II he took a position as a reporter and columnist with the London Sunday Times upon condition that he could have two months vacation each January and February to travel to Jamaica then a British colony filled with decaying sugar plantations tropical birds and sea creatures pristine waters and less than 200 hotel rooms Fleming bought about 15 acres overlooking a beautiful bay and built a rudimentary home he named GoldeneyeFour years later he sat down at his golden plated typewriter and typed The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning It was the opening line of Casino Royale the first James Bond book For the next 13 years until his death in 1964 at the too young age of 56 Fleming would spend each January and February writing a James Bond bookBut this book does so much than trace Fleming s writing or hi. For two months every year from 1946 to his death eighteen years later Ian Fleming lived at Goldeneye the house he built on a point of high land overlooking a small white sand beach on Jamaica's stunning north coast All the James Bond novels and stories were written here This book explores the huge influence of Jamaica on the creation of Fleming's iconic

I'm currently working on a new book due to be published in August 2015 that tells the extraordinary story of Willoughbyland the forgotten seventeenth century English colony in Suriname that was exchanged with the Dutch for New YorkWhen not reading writing or staring out of the window I love making sushi pubs growing stuff and visiting remote placesI'm a member of the Authors Cricket Club

Matthew Parker10 on Goldeneye