Matthew Parker: Goldeneye - Where Bond Was Born

  Goldeneye: Reviews  

"Fleming, for whom 'all history is sex and violence', took every inspiration from Jamaica. Matthew Parker does not replace two excellent, competing Fleming biographers, John Pearson and Andrew Lycett, but his account of the role Goldeneye played in the evolution of 007 is persuasive, well-researched and entertaining. Parker describes very well how this outpost of empire supplied Fleming with the perfect cocktail of old-fashioned British law, order and imperial restraint mixed with danger, sensuality and exotic excitements: the same combination, indeed, that made the Bond novels so successful."
Robert McCrum, Observer - full review

"You might think there is nothing new to say about Ian Fleming — that every detail of his life has been obsessively picked over by biographers. Matthew Parker, though, has produced a book as illuminating as it is intriguing. Written in a quick-fire, atmospheric, prose style that clearly owes something to Fleming’s own, it cracks along with all the urgency of a Bond novel.

As Parker shrewdly points out, in an odd sort of way this is a love story — albeit one between a man and a house. Yet it might just be the most fulfilling affair that Fleming ever had. Parker’s just as insightful on our own love affair with Bond and what it tells us about ourselves. The books — and films — tap into our sense of national pride, as well as our tendency towards self-deprecation."
Daily Mail - full review

"Parker's book is subtitled Where Bond was Born: Ian Fleming's Jamaica, signalling something of a new approach to the man responsible for the longest-running franchise in cinema. Parker's record of a key period in the life of the writer makes a fascinating read ... The evocation of the writer's voluptuous existence in Jamaica (and the unspoilt island itself) is nonpareil"
Independent - full review

"For the historian Matthew Parker, Jamaica was a microcosm of Britain’s changing relationship with its imperial possessions and offers the key to a fresh understanding of Fleming and our own relationship with Bond." 
The Times

"Matthew Parker's brilliant book Goldeneye is indispensable for anyone interested in the inner life of the enigmatic Ian Fleming and the whole James Bond phenomenon he created."
Ian Rankin, author of Ian Fleming's Commandos

"[Here are] the glowing sea, the teeming life beneath the waves, and the warm black nights, all of which made their way into the Bond novels ... [But] Parker's highly readable account of Fleming's Jamaican life is less Thunderball and more Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea. Bond himself might have been a touch jealous."
Sinclair McKay Daily Telegraph

“What makes Parker's book particularly fascinating is the way that, as a result of close and intelligent reading, he teases out how Fleming drew on the island, its culture and its postwar development for much of the atmosphere and incidental detail in the Bond series.”
Andrew Lycett, Literary Review - full review

"Entertaining . . . Parker makes a convincing case that Jamaica is crucial to a proper understanding of the man and his work."
Lewis Jones, Spectator - full review

“The book that James Bond obsessives have been waiting for – a beautiful, brilliant history of Ian Fleming at home at Goldeneye, all of sun-drenched, gin-soaked, bed-hopping colonial Jamaica outside the window and 007 at the moment of his creation.

This is THE BIG BANG OF BOND BOOKS – the world-weary romance, the impossible glamour, the sex, the travel, the legend, the longing for escape and adventure – it all starts right here.” 
Tony Parsons

“superb … well-researched, excellently written”
Ian Thomson, Financial Times - full review

"Completely fascinating, authoritative and intriguing"
William Boyd

"Best read sitting somewhere hot, sipping something cool is Matthew Parker's brilliant addition to the cannon of Jamaican travel writing and 007-ology "

"An engrossing and supremely enjoyable biography of both Ian and his favourite island. In fact it’s even more than that. Drawing on your own considerable knowledge of the island and a lot of original research, you have actually created a completely new picture of Ian, Bond and the role of Jamaica in the making of the legend."
John Pearson, author of The Life of Ian Fleming

'A well-written look at Fleming's life, though the book is even better as an indictment of the anachronistic colonialism of the 1950s and the end of the British Empire' 

‘Fans of James Bond books and films, along with those intrigued by the man behind the spy will devour the captivating stories within these pages. Readers interested in Jamaica’s relationship with Britain and America as the country moved toward independence will also appreciate the historical, cultural, and political realities and their context within Fleming’s work.’
Library Journal

‘Parker draws a richly detailed portrait of Fleming and of the island that inspired the James Bond novels … Parker’s entertaining and well-researched biography dishes up a rich stew for fans of popular literature, travel writing, British and West Indian history, and filmmaking, all sauced with plenty of titillating celebrity gossip.’
Booklist (starred review)

‘A sophisticated history of how Fleming’s character developed. This is the beginning of the story of how Fleming and Jamaica, that desultory duo that generated Bond novels, first made contact.’
The Buffalo News

‘The iconic image of bikini-clad Ursula Andress stepping out of the Caribbean sea in the first James Bond movie “Dr. No” is the stuff of fantasy. Now, Parker tells the story of the equally fantastic life of Bond creator Ian Fleming on the beaches of Jamaica, where he spent two months of every year from 1946 to 1964 at Goldeneye, the villa he built on the island’s northern coast, hobnobbing with celebrity residents Errol Flynn, Noel Coward and Lawrence Olivier. Read it while drinking a martini — shaken, not stirred.’
New York Post

‘Unique. Parker's Goldeneye is an appealing Caribbean history dressed as pop culture, and he adds complexity to Bond's legacy of vodka martinis, car chases and women in bikinis.’
New York Times

‘Parker gives us insight into how this exotic local nurtured Fleming's writing, as well as a glimpse at some of the interesting guests he entertained there, and a look into colonialism and the crumbling British Empire. This is Bond's real origin story.’
Book Riot

‘The soil from which Bond sprang is as virile as the spy himself. In exploring Jamaica, the island where Bond was born, Parker casts the entire canon in a refreshing—almost tropical—light. Through exhaustive research and interviews, Parker assembles an intricate portrait of not just Fleming, his coterie and his Goldeneye villa, but of Jamaica and the post-War remnants of the British Empire.’
Paste Magazine

‘Parker’s command and close-reading of Fleming is deeply impressive, and worthy of Kingsley Amis’ James Bond Dossier.’

‘Fans of the spy series will love how Parker details the island’s cameos in both film and fiction.’ Condé Nast Traveller - full review

'Insightful and engagingly written …  As Parker’s astute book makes clear, Jamaica was always at the core of this enduring hero.' The Seattle Times - full review

'Sparkling … Parker convincingly traces the impact Goldeneye had on the creation of this deplorably iconic figure.' Open Letters Monthly Arts and Literature Review - full review

‘A straight-up delight that crisply illuminates Bond, Fleming and the era when the sun was setting on the British Empire … Parker is out to explain an era, a writer and a remarkable character. Mission accomplished.’ The Dallas Morning News - full review

‘I could not put down this story. For devotees of James Bond, or Jamaica, or the British Empire of old, "Goldeneye" is most entertaining reading.’ Providence Journal - full review

‘The first book to explore the north-shore estate where the author and former intelligence officer Ian Fleming spent two months each year and wrote all the Bond books. The purchase of his tropical lair, the retreat from society, the way Fleming spent the latter half of his life there—these are all apparently telltale signs of a man who just can't handle getting older. What Parker's new book shows is how much that crisis latched itself onto James Bond, and how the defiant fantasy he provided against decline both restored Fleming and gave life to an immortal franchise.’ The Atlantic - full review

‘Matthew Parker’s riveting new book serves up perhaps the most intricate insights yet on how Bond became Bond.’ Blackbook - full review

'Against a backdrop of the island’s evolution from colonialism to independence, Matthew Parker tells the story of Fleming’s Jamaican retreat, of the psychological fallout of the end of the British Empire and of how Bond parachuted in to offer solace in the form of escapist fantasy. With Goldeneye now a luxury resort and the public appetite for Bond movies undiminished, Parker’s book is an astute reminder of the price we pay for fantasy.' The Washington Post - full review

Goldeneye Cover
©Matthew Parker 2014