Classics Without All the Class discussion

August 2015- Casino Royal > Finish? Give us your candid review!

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message 1: by Jeane, Book-tator (new)

Jeane (pinkbookdragon) | 323 comments Make sure you mark spoilers please!

message 2: by Andrew (new)

Andrew (andrew619) | 183 comments Well! I couldn't wait to read this book and I've finished in one day, last week (I started with a couple of days in advance). I've seen all the classical movies since I was younger and the first with Daniel Craig, based upon this story.
I am a little disappointed about Bond. I was used to think about him like a man with charm and style (yes, in some cases a male chauvinist, but always with style).
In this book he is shown like a machine, cold and emotionless, whose opinion on women in some cases is "stay at home and leave men's work to the men."
(view spoiler)
It's a rough Bond and I hope will change in the next stories.

message 3: by Robin (new)

Robin I've finished this book last week as well. It was nice to read a short book for a change and finish it in a few hours! I never realized this was the first Bond-book, because the movies are in a different order. I agree with Andrew about the 'cold and emotionless' Bond, but I think that's the main difference between the books and movies. He was like that in 'Live and Let Die', the only other Bond-book I read. Maybe his personality changes through the different books? Or they just changed Bond in the movies because the movie-Bond is more appealing?

(view spoiler)

message 4: by James (new)

James Biser (biser) | 23 comments This was a fun read. I enjoyed the first James Bond. I will enjoy reading others. I was shocked by how close he drew to Vesper. In that respect, Bond almost lacked objectivity (which other readers claimed he displayed too much).

message 5: by Whitney (new)

Whitney (helloooooo) | 13 comments This was a great quick read! However, I went through phases of hating nearly everyone except Mathis and the villain's henchmen. They were SO good at their jobs.

Bond, Le Chiffre, and Vesper were all slightly insufferable at times.

I was most intrigued by the possibility of Bond becoming an actual sympathetic human being when he falls in love with Vesper. (view spoiler) Ultimately we all know James Bond only looks out for himself. And he does sort of try to learn from his mistakes; he tries to become a better agent. He learns that true professionals do their work without fanfare, and they exercise caution.

This book is a very strong start to the series. But I do not anticipate Bond's character deepening. And I am deducting points because despite everything that happens in this book, he keeps himself weak by continually discounting women. If he would accept them as humans capable of action, he could save himself a lot of trouble. It takes a lot of energy to complain constantly about your co-workers, accomplices, etc. Thank goodness the movies are starting to catch on to this.

message 6: by Robin (new)

Robin I like your review Whitney. I think we have to put the book in its timeframe, it was written in 1953. Times were different back then when it comes to the role of men and women. I was shocked by 'Live and let die', where he constantly used the word 'negro'. Shocking right now, but normal back then.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

I do agree that you have to take into account the time that this book was written, but it wasnt only his whole "women are the weaker sex" thing, but his ability to simply write women off as though they are a sub species. Definately not chivalry!

I didnt enjoy this very much. The story was ok, and descritive without being vulgar. But this is probably the first time ive preferred the movie over the book.

message 8: by Reija (new)

Reija I think it was pretty slow and boring. Of course the movie version is new and more action and the book cannot be the same but man, I thought that Modesty Blaise books were like female hero of Bond, but he was so machine. Maybe there would have been place for bigger sidekick or bigger crime, after movies I have used to going around the world and now we have only two main place. Well, at least I don't have to read other his books, this wasn't good introduction for me.

message 9: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Clark I actually liked the "slow and boring". It was a little jarring at first, because I had just finished a book with a faster pace. Then I got into it, and realized that it really suited Bond. He's cold, he's a calculating block of ice--a machine. The reconnoitering cruises in his car, the way he checks the water level in the toilet to make sure no one has entered his room, his gambling logic, his desire to find the perfect name for a drink--it all fits the cold exterior that we see fade as he (view spoiler) at the end. He even takes that the news of (view spoiler) coldly. I think the pace totally fits the novel. And I thought it was everything a spy novel should be.

As far as the sexism, it's inseparable from the character! Could Aesop have written about a fox that wasn't clever and conniving? Such a thing doesn't exist. For Fleming, the sexism is Bond. And despite the fact that we don't get mad at the author when the bad guy is a racist, for example, it is maddening when the good guy is a sexist. But I like those juxtapositions of the flawed hero. As long as the reader knows what to emulate, and what to shun.

message 10: by Martin (new)

Martin Waterhouse This is a great piece of pulp fiction set in that much ignored period the early 1950's.
Having been brought up on the films I wasn’t really sure what to expect of this but the writing was better than I imagined, with some great descriptions - especially of the game of Baccarat that’s at the centre of the story (which I was able to follow quite easily even though I’ve never played it before) and the plot moved along quite nicely: Ian Fleming’s got that knack of setting up little cliffhangers at the end of chapters that keep you turning the page. It’s definitely a book of its time, though, and some reviewers’ descriptions of it as misogynistic seem to be damning it through our modern hyper-sensitised eyes: just because it’s not PC doesn’t mean it’s ‘bad’; it’s a novel from a very different place and time.
Bond isn't the cute and quippy cartoon spy we know from the films, he’s a damaged man who's tired of being caught up in the "gale of the world" - the gale being the Second World War and its aftermath. And that's the most interesting thing in the book for me: the shadow that the War is casting over everyone. There are constant references to it throughout the story and every character has been scarred in one way or another by it: whether it’s a physical scar - a missing eye or arm - or the psychological damage as we see in Bond or Vesper, this is a society that has just been through a brutal war and is still suffering the consequences.
So overall a very enjoyable piece of period noir that’s a lot colder than the films and probably the better for it.

message 11: by Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 208 comments I liked the introspective version of Bond, but I found the chauvinism and coldheartedness much more pronounced than in the films, and it just didn't work for me. I found his "change" near the end completely unbelievable. No one just changes their mind that quickly. Or maybe he never really did?

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