Destinations Magazine

The London Reading List No.1

By Lwblog @londonwalks
Tuesday is great London books day on The Daily Constitutional. Give us your own recommendations at the usual email address
The London Reading List No.1
MOONRAKER by Ian Fleming (1955)

The London Reading List No.1The jet set nature of James Bond’s remit means that those looking for London settings in the novels of Ian Fleming (as distinct from the films based on the novels) must make do with fleeting glimpses of St James’s (his club), Regent’s Park (his “office”) and King’s Road (his apartment) before he sets off for adventures in climes exotic.
The exception is Moonraker: the third Bond novel is set entirely in England.
In pursuit of Hugo Drax, a megalomaniac would-be dictator, arms manufacturer and (worst of all in M’s book) card cheat, Bond gambles, drinks and drops Benzedrine in St James’s, meets with Assistant Commissioner Vallance at Scotland Yard and prangs his vintage Bentley in the prosaic surroundings of the capital's South Circular ring road. He later road tests his new motor, a four-and-a-half liter 1953 Bentley Mark VI on Birdcage Walk SW1.
The booze and drugs business in St James’s gives us arguably Fleming’s most memorable line – upon waking the morning after, Bond swears: “Champagne and Benzedrine! Never again!”
Drax remains one of Fleming’s best villains; Bond is at his most bullet-proof, bouncing back from the events of the previous assignment (Live and Let Die); and the glimpses behind the mask of M bring one of popular fiction’s most enigmatic supporting characters leaping from the page. But it is perhaps the behind-the-scenes tour of Pall Mall’s club land that holds the most enduring fascination.
The movie of the same name retains only the title – the novel is a London classic.
Find out what lies beneath the old Scotland Yard building on the Embankment (as featured in the novel) on the Subterranean London walk with Kim or Peter every Sunday morning at 10.30 a.m. The walk leaves from Embankment station.
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