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MI5 and Me

A Coronet Among the Spooks

Charlotte Bingham

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Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
08 March 2018
'A Jilly Cooper heroine in a John le Carre world' (Libby Purves, TLS); a beguiling comic memoir about a young woman who discovers her father is a spy (and was the model for John le Carre'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 Lottie is summoned to her father's office at the age of eighteen, she is astonished to learn that this aloof, unexciting parent is a spy. Even more perturbing is his view that she should stop drifting around and get a proper job, something patriotic and worthwhile.

So Lottie finds herself outside MI5's Mayfair headquarters in a dreary suit, feeling naked without her false eyelashes. Miserably assigned to the formidable Dragon, Lottie longs to escape, or for anything to release her from the torment of 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. But 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 behaviour. Discretion and honour meet secrecy and suspicion in this enchanting, extraordinary and hilarious true story.
By:   Charlotte Bingham
Imprint:   Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 135mm, 
Weight:   384g
ISBN:   9781408888148
ISBN 10:   1408888149
Pages:   256
Publication Date:   08 March 2018
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Charlotte Bingham wrote her first book, Coronet Among the Weeds, a memoir of her life as a debutante, at the age of 19. It was published in 1963 and became an instant bestseller. She went on the write a further memoir, Coronet Among the Grass. Her father, John Bingham, the 7th Baron Clanmorris, was a member of M15 where Charlotte Bingham worked as a secretary. He was an inspiration for John le Carre's character 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 and Take Three Girls. She lives in Somerset. charlottebingham.com

Reviews for MI5 and Me: A Coronet Among the Spooks

An astonishing tale ... She still has all the exuberant delight of a teenager in telling stories to make herself and other people laugh. Long may she write -- Lynn Barber * Sunday Times * Imagine a Jilly Cooper heroine in an early John le Carre world ... It offers to our over-anxious age of Putin-dread, Corbynism and cybercrime an enthrallingly nostalgic portrait of a post-war Britain, an idyll where even the security services breathe a kind of sweet innocence -- Libby Purves * Times Literary Supplement * A hilarious and candid account of her time at MI5: the shady characters her father invites home, and anecdotes of office life both absurd yet believable. Filled with period detail, Bingham's memoir is entertaining and extraordinary -- Hannah Beckerman * Observer * Much fun, brilliant, sly ... The more cynical of us might expect treachery, backstabbing and boardroom power-grabs, but what Lottie finds is good folk and true, working away in the defence of our lovely country, full of integrity, and so much fun . Given the charming, flighty narrative that results, it would be a hard-hearted reader who'd find fault with that * Spectator * A stone-cold comic classic ... Joyfully silly, with undercurrents of real danger * Tatler * Sparky and larky ... Amusing -- Lucy Hughes-Hallett * Guardian * I had underestimated Charlotte Bingham's capacity to write light-heartedly-and indeed, hilariously ... In her book, one funny story follows another ... You will be sure to find this book a most entertaining and enjoyable read * Country Life *


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