We’re one week out from Christmas, and I still have to:
- Buy gifts
- Send Christmas cards
- Bake cookies
So, in other words, this will be a short post!
A couple of weeks ago I shared some of the Christmas boxed sets I’m dipping into as I get time. I’m loving these short historical romance reads on my Kindle.
When I get on the treadmill, however I like to hold a real book in my hands. Here’s my current treadmill read:
This is the book by Ian Fleming that introduced James Bond to the world on April 13, 1953.
I’ve blogged before about reading some mid-century genre fiction (see my reviews here). Branching out of romance a bit, I came across this copy of Fleming’s work in a book exchange a couple of years ago.
As I read along, images of the wonderful Daniel Craig from the 2006 movie pop into my head.
However, this Casino Royale is definitely not the 2006 story world!
It’s filled with the post-war zeitgeist of recovering economies and an emerging cold war. Plus there’s all that “toxic” masculinity and the defined gender roles.
“You will be pleased with your Number Two. She is very beautiful…she has black hair, blue eyes, and splendid…er…protuberances. Back and front.”
Bond was not amused. “What the hell do they want to send me a woman for?…Do they think this is a bloody picnic?”
Bond sat at the window and gathered his thoughts…this pest of a girl. He sighed. Women were for recreation. On a job, they got in the way and fogged things up with sex and hurt feelings and all the emotional baggage they carried around. One had to look out for them and take care of them.
And there’s the crackling sophistication of the casino resort.
Bond had spent the last two afternoons and most of the nights at the Casino, playing complicated progression systems on the even chances at roulette. He made a high banco at chemin-de-fer whenever he heard one offered. If he lost, he would suivi once and not chase it further if he lost the second time.
And the smoking!
(Not a fan of smoking, but I suspect nicotine was the drug that got many people through the harrowing experience of World War II, especially in England and Europe.)
He lit his first cigarette, a Balkan and Turkish mixture made for him by Morlands of Grosvenor Street…
Mathis sat down on the bed and ripped open a packet of Caporal with his thumbnail.
She accepted one of Bond’s cigarettes, examined it and then smoked it appreciatively and without affectation, drawing the smoke deeply into her lungs with a little sigh and then exhaling it casually through her lips and nostrils.
Bond’s signature drink–shaken, not stirred–isn’t the plain martini I thought it was.
Bond…looked carefully at the barman. “A dry martini,” he said. “One. In a deep champagne goblet.”
“Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?”
A cocktail that would put me under the table after the first few sips!
Was that drink recipe ever presented in any of the Bond movies? I don’t think so. I suppose it would have been far too much detail for theater audiences!
Fleming writes in an omniscient point of view, jumping into characters’ thoughts. He also makes ample use of adverbs and dangled one participle.
But, he sets an exotic scene and tells an exciting story, and obviously mid-century readers forgave him. More proof that storytelling trumps pretty writing, at least in genre fiction!
Have you read any of the James Bond books? If so, which ones do you recommend?