The Moneypenny Diaries

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 May, 2006, 12:00am

The Moneypenny Diaries

by Kate Westbrook

John Murray, $101

It's odd that it's taken so long for someone to step into the shoes of Miss Moneypenny. But better late than never, especially as she's been given the flick in the remake of Casino Royale, starring Daniel Craig as the latest James Bond. In The Moneypenny Diaries, Kate Westbrook (aka author Samantha Weinberg) receives three packages of books from her aunt, Miss Jane Vivien Moneypenny, 10 years after her death in 1990. Within is a letter explaining why she never married, what she was really doing while masquerading as a civil servant, and how it is that a character with her name came to be in a series of books about a secret agent called Bond. Then On Her Majesty's Secret Service beckons. 'Where [Ian Fleming's] account ends,' she writes, 'my aunt's 1962 diary begins ...' Bond fans will know that his wife dies in his arms shortly after their wedding. The book teases out his subsequent depression and affords a look at the person within the suit as well as the girl who's always there for him: Moneypenny. This is one for aficionados. Lesser fans might tire of the copious notes on almost every page explaining who's who.