Thursday, August 24, 2023

Top ten female spies in fiction

Kim Sherwood is an author and creative writing lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, where she lives in the city. Her first novel, Testament (2018), won the Bath Novel Award and Harper’s Bazaar Big Book Award. It was longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize and shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Pick. In 2019, she was shortlisted for The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. Her second book, Double or Nothing (2022), is the first in a trilogy commissioned by the Ian Fleming Estate to expand the world of James Bond. Her latest novel, A Wild & True Relation (2023), was described by Dame Hilary Mantel as “a rarity – a novel as remarkable for the vigour of the storytelling as for its literary ambition. Kim Sherwood is a writer of capacity, potency and sophistication.”

At the Guardian Sherwood tagged her top ten female spies in fiction, including:
Moonraker, Ian Fleming (1955)

When Fleming sat down to write Casino Royale in 1952, he intended to “write the spy story to end all spy stories”. He did, reinventing the genre and creating an icon. Fleming is less known for his female characters, perhaps overshadowed by their cinematic incarnations and the trope of the “Bond girl.” It’s a shame, because Fleming invests them with rich back stories and motivations. Best of all is cool-headed and capable Gala Brand, a special branch agent embedded with suspicious rocket-engineer Drax. It’s Brand’s mission that Bond joins, and her first impression is damning: “He could probably shoot all right and talk foreign languages and do a lot of tricks that might be useful abroad. But what good could he do down here without any beautiful spies to make love to.” The tender relationship that emerges delivers the most poignant ending to any Bond novel.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue