MI5 and Me
‘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
Much to her surprise, eighteen-year-old Lottie has just found out that her aloof, rather unexciting father is a spy. And now he’s decreed that she must make herself useful and get a Proper Job – so she’s packed off to MI5 herself, trussed up in a dreary suit. Luckily her delightful colleague Arabella is on hand to enliven the torments of typing and decode the enigmas of office life. But as Lottie’s home fills with actors doubling as spies, and Arabella’s mother is besieged with mysterious telephone calls, the girls start to feel well and truly spooked…
A hilarious true story, and a unique window into 1950s Britain – where Russian agents infiltrate the highest echelons, where debutantes are typists and where Englishness is both a nationality and a code of behaviour – MI5 and Me is a sparkling comic memoir.
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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