FORGOTTEN BOOKS: THE JANE BOND ADVENTURES BY MABLE MANLEY!
Since the theme of the blog this week has tended heavily toward spy girls, I thought I would bring to my weekly Forgotten Books post two little known spy girls/James Bond related novels from a series featuring James Bond’s lesbian twin sister, Jane Bond . . .
What? You didn’t know James Bond had a lesbian twin sister? Well, you do now. And you can read her adventures in these two Bond parodies by Mable Maney . . .
A San Francisco artist and satirist, Maney spins lesbian pulp adventure tales out of perky feminine archetypes from the 1950s and 1960s, including Nancy Drew/Nancy Clue, Cherry Ames/Cherry Aimless, the Hardy/Hardly Boys, and James/Jane Bond.
Per the Enclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture (GLBTQ):
Though on the surface her novels play out as mischievous parodies of heroines such as Nancy Drew, behind their convoluted and merrily implausible plots is a conscious awareness of the era's class and gender issues. At the same time Maney, an unabashed advocate for the place of butch/femme relationships in lesbian culture, actively reappraises the gender assumptions of the present.
Maney switches gears in her next two novels, Kiss the Girls and Make Them Spy (2001) and The Girl with the Golden Bouffant (2004). In the insouciant 1960s, the renowned Agent 007's sister--Bond, Jane Bond--must thwart a plot against the queen and outsmart some really obnoxious FBI rivals in a Las Vegas showdown (respectively). She is abetted by two cagey and tenacious operatives, Bridget and Bibi, fashionista femmes whom one is well advised not to cross. It is amazing what kind of high-tech weaponry you can pack into a charm bracelet.
Although created as parodies of earlier times, Maney's novels are mordant commentaries on the conformity of a lesbian culture that, in her opinion, takes itself too seriously. She notes that gay men have a longstanding camp tradition and feels that lesbians need something similar. Her characters may well provide the foundation.
KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM SPY
Sometimes the Best Bond for a Job is a Jane . . . Jane Bond.
"What's the story on Bond?"
"Your man is a homicidal depressive paranoiac," the doctor reported.
"I know that. I want to know what's wrong with him!
And be straight with me, man. No medical mumbo jumbo."
"He's lost his nerve."
N. had suspected as much. After a long while spent staring at the jagged skyline of London, N. came to a decision. He had no other choice but to go through with Pumpernickel's ridiculous plan.
The dastardly Sons of Britain (SOBs) are plotting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and bring the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson back to power - a trifle for the inimitable James Bond. However, the many years of wining and dining beautiful women have taken their toll on poor 007 and a "rehabilitation" in a sanatorium is in order. But if word gets out that 007 is "indisposed", the evil SOBs will surely succeed.
Enter Bond, Jane Bond, James's lesbian twin sister and haoless bookstore employee, who steps in to masquerade as her brother at an awards ceremony with the queen. It's up to some unexpected heroes to save the day. The Powder Puff Girls – makeup salespersons by day, secret agents by night – step in to secure the future of Britain while Jane keeps her brother's reputation intact...both in and out of the bedroom!
GIRL WITH THE GOLDEN BOUFFANT
Another hilarious Bond parody in the shape of THE GIRL WITH THE GOLDEN BOUFFANT. James Bond's out of commission and his sister Jane must step once more into his shoes, his smoking jacket, and his girlfriend's bedroom...
When James Bond lands in hospital as the result of a nasty facial burn – while lighting a bird's cigarette, his hair pomade explodes – Jane Bond, his lesbian twin sister and occasional impersonator, once again dons suit and scars to masquerade as her infamous brother. Her destination: the annual spy convention in the glamorous Las Vegas of the Rat Pack era.
Her assignment: to keep her brother's reputation intact through a carefully plotted program of gambling, boozing, and womanising.
Along for the ride are British Secret Service Agent Cedric Pumpernickel, Jane's only ally in the male spy world, and glamorous girlfriend, and G.E.O.R.G.I.E. agent, Bridget St Claire, who finds herself the unwilling love interest of a scrawny lounge singer who, along with his pack of friends, begins a campaign to bed her.The relatively ordinary convention – featuring the latest in jet pack transportation and stylish decoder rings – becomes the scene for murder when someone tosses an Estonian secret agent off the observation deck of Hoover Dam.
Days spent at the blackjack table – and nights in the arms of her beautiful girlfriend – come to an abrupt end as Jane uncovers a nefarious plot to eliminate all the best spies of the western world.
Complicating the plot is a romance gone sour: an affair between Agent Pumpernickel and musical sensation Liberace has ended badly, and when Pumpernickel takes to his bed with a box of chocolates and a copy of Queen magazine, Jane must become England's top–action man and stop the killer before he stops her.
Okay, so this isn’t my normal reading, but everyone should get equal access when it comes to fiction. If this is your bent, you’ll probably enjoy Maney’s engaging wit and biting satire. And if you are a Bond completest, these belong on your shelf.
TO READ A REVEALING INTERVIEW WITH MANEY CLICK HERE
Food for thought: Deighton on Radio 4 in August
5 hours ago