Martha's Reviews > Casino Royale

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
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it was ok
bookshelves: read-2016, fiction

What do you get when you take a successful film franchise, strip out the stirring soundtrack, the exciting visual effects and Daniel Craig? An excellent example of unchallenged misogyny wrapped up in an obsessively technical lesson in gambling that I didn't ask for. It would have been a 1 star, but the action picked up slightly towards the end. Slightly.

My main issue with this novel (and with Ian Fleming and the James Bond series in general) can be illustrated in the following excerpts:

"Bond was not amused. 'What the hell do they want to send me a woman for?' he said bitterly. 'Do they think this is a bloody picnic?'"

"Bond saw luck as a woman, to be softly wooed or brutally ravaged, never pandered to or pursued"

"And now he knew that she was profoundly, excitingly sensual, but that the conquest of her body, because of the central privacy in her, would each time have the sweet tang of rape."

I know this was written in the 50s where sexism was free to roam, but I think there is a distinction between remaining true to the culture of the time and just being a douche. A lot of older novels I've read have similar undertones, and yet many at least offer a main character who isn't a complete write off, whereas James Bond seem to be without a single redeeming quality - if the true plot of Casino Royale is now revealed (as opposed to the one offered in the film), he's not even a particularly good spy! He ends up in the shitter more than once and gets out of it mainly through the help of other people!

Many a novel is presented from the perspective of a "bad" character - say, a serial killer. Yet it is still made clear, through whatever means, that this character is the villain - even if it's not their fault because they had a crappy childhood etc, they're still the villain. The key distinction here is that Fleming presents a character who is an ass, and seems to be quite happy about it! James Bond isn't even an anti-hero, he is absolutely the hero, rapey inclinations and all!

Furthermore, the book is dull. So, achingly dull! It's littered with French phrases (sorry Ian, I am but a silly woman without your superior linguistic knowledge) as well as passage after passage of technical descriptions giving me more detail about gambling than I could ever wish to have. Oh and then there was the tense interchange with Le Chiffre over a merry game of Vingt-et-un which was described using some wonderfully technical gambling terms IN FRENCH.

Frankly, it's made me look at the film in a new light - James Bond as a film franchise is sexist as hell, but it's come a long way from the original source.
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Reading Progress

January 26, 2016 – Shelved
January 26, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
February 3, 2016 – Started Reading
February 4, 2016 –
page 37
17.37% "Let's be honest, James Bond is a bit of a douche"
February 5, 2016 –
page 130
February 6, 2016 – Finished Reading
April 19, 2016 – Shelved as: read-2016
March 30, 2017 – Shelved as: fiction

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