Behind The Text’ Part 23_Lovers
‘Cherchez La Femme!’
Jonas Forbes is certainly one for the ladies. In 11/16 books he has a sexual relationship – however brief. Even so, here I’ll only consider 3 of the 14 women (no mistake with the Maths!) involved.
Lieutenant Natasha Rykov of the GRU (in ‘Dare Call It Treason’ - Book 2) is undoubtedly the key lover in this series. A relationship which started as ice soon melts and is transformed after Jonas rescues her from Bonus’s gang. Then it’s back to Portsmouth, stopping at a hotel, a dinner impatiently consumed before passion in her bed. And then? The discovery of her murdered body in the morning, an accusation of murder soon proved false and then Jonas’s determination for revenge – not just on James Bonus but on the men who’d hired him to secure the means of killing the Soviet leaders. Natasha dead comes to mean far more to Jonas than Natasha alive. Her name appears in several of the later novels – perhaps as a memory which slowly, slowly fades. Even in the last novel his wife thinks: ‘Jonas had never really played fair with her - right from the affair with Natasha, but she’d surprised herself by living with that for seventeen years.' She was to become an icon, an impossible perfection against which other women are matched and a life-long regret their affaire had lasted but hours.
Wou San-San is a Linguistics student at University College, London with whom Jonas enjoys an affair over the first weeks of 1961 (see ‘Dragon-Spit’ – Book 7). Jonas is working undercover, trying to penetrate the circle of Chinese students at London University in order to foil a Maoist plot to unhinge UK politics. So is it just a means to an end? Perhaps at the start, but it soon deepens until he disappears, after his cover’s blown, and San-San realises most of what he’s told her has been lies. Taunts from her twin, Wou Mei-Mei, provoke a struggle in which San-San is killed by accident. Wait a minute though. When reviewing Jonas’s feelings for San-San, remember Jonas had also enjoyed sex with Mei-Mei (thinking she was her twin) and detected no difference, apart from improved technique. And remember that when he tracks down Wang Li, the killer of the Chinese agent, Mei-Mei, he deliberately cripples him by shooting out both knee-caps. So his true feelings for Wou Mei-Mei must remain, at best, uncertain.
Jonas (in ‘Find Bormann’ - Book 8) forms a relationship with Ilse Buch (aka ‘Miss '36-24-36'), even though he learns she’s also in 1962 Uruguay looking for Martin Bormann - whom she’s certain is her father. Consummation of a sexual attraction for each other takes place on the pampas under the stars – and then they’re captured by the gauchos of Don Esteban de Cordilla y Marquez who has his own agenda for the couple. And there this Spoiler will end, except to quote virtually the last words of this novel: ‘Why was Jonas Forbes here? And, perhaps more importantly, why was he crying over that girl?’ So it wasn’t just sex or infatuation or even loneliness which bound two disparate humans together – or was it?.
Note I leave out Vanessa Holmes nee Clarke, who actually married Jonas Forbes, for a later, more detailed treatment (Post 26).Bob Hyslop