By Jill Lawless
Bond is back, much as we remember him but also subtly different. To the latest Bond author, the dashing secret agent looks a bit like Daniel Day-Lewis.
British writer William Boyd, who has written a new official James Bond novel authorized by creator Ian Fleming’s family, says Day-Lewis would be perfect to play the 007 he has created in “Solo.”
Boyd says Fleming once described Bond as “looking like the American singer-songwriter Hoagy Carmichael. Daniel Day-Lewis looks like Hoagy Carmichael.”
So readers are advised to banish images of Sean Connery or Daniel Craig when they read “Solo.”
The novel, set in 1969, takes the suave British spy — 45 years old and feeling his age — from London’s plush Dorchester Hotel to a war-ravaged West African country and onto Washington on a perilous lone mission.
Boyd, 61, who has won the Whitbread and Costa book prizes, follows writers including Kingsley Amis and Sebastian Faulks as a successor to Fleming, who died in 1964.
Espionage is familiar ground for the author, whose books include the spy thrillers “Restless” and “Waiting for Sunrise.”
Boyd has been a Bond fan since he read “From Russia With Love” as “an illicit thrill” after lights-out at his 1960s boarding school. His novel stays faithful to Fleming’s character, from his meticulous approach to clothes to his fondness for cigarettes and whisky to his love for attractive women.
“There’s a lot of eating and drinking. There’s a lot of interest in clothes. Bond is a sensualist,” Boyd said recently.
Although the novel includes two enigmatic female foils for 007, Boyd is not keen on the expression “Bond girl.”
“Bond has relationships with women,” he said. “It seems to me he wants a relationship — it’s not just casual sex.”
“Solo” was launched Wednesday with a suitably glamorous photo call — at the Dorchester, naturally — involving vintage Jensen sports cars and flight attendants. Seven copies of the books were driven in a Jensen convoy to Heathrow Airport, destined for seven cities around the world with ties to Boyd or Bond — Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Zurich, New Delhi, Los Angeles, Cape Town and Sydney.
The book hits bookstores Tuesday.