My father was Ann Fleming’s architect and she gave him nothing but trouble, only equalled by that caused by her impossibly spoilt son, Caspar, who proved to be not long for this world. The gentlest of men, my father would clearly have liked to beat Caspar black and blue, but only now do I realise that the endlessly irritated Mrs Fleming was probably hoping that he would do the same to her. My mother, I discover from this book, was born in the same house in Green Street as Ian Fleming, and my cousin bought the Flemings’ dreary pile at Brazier‘s Park in south Oxfordshire – a property only redeemed by the fact that one could find man-orchids growing wild in its meadows (one of many secrets that one is not supposed to tell anyone). So if you like reading books with jackdaw jottings about the moneyed intelligentsia of yesteryear (now more pejoratively known as the chattering classes), this is the book for you.
Andrew Lycett is a competent guide and I enjoyed his book. Ian Fleming, as Lycett discovered to his chagrin in the course of his researches, was not James Bond. He was merely a minor banker turned bureaucrat in the intelligence services during the war, and he belonged to that loose