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Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
(James Bond novel #11)
by Ian Fleming
Spy Thriller
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

A Lancia Spyder with its hood down tore past him, cut in cheekily across his bonnet and pulled away, the sexy boom of its twin exhausts echoing back at him. It was a girl driving, a girl with a shocking pink scarf tied round her hair. And if there was one thing that set James Bond really moving, it was being passed at speed by a pretty girl.

When Bond rescues a beautiful, reckless girl from self-destruction, he finds himself with a lead on one of the most dangerous men in the world—Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE. In the snow-bound fastness of his Alpine base, Blofeld is conducting research that could threaten the safety of the world. To thwart the evil genius, Bond must get himself and the vital information he has gathered out of the base and keep away from SPECTRE's agents.
I normally like to read series books in order, but I saw this particular Bond book was narrated by David Tennant... well I had to listen to that one first.  This is the first time I've ever read a James Bond novel, so I wasn't sure how I would like it.  I liked it!  And now I can listen to the other audiobooks in this series - there was a project that had different well-known British actors each read a Bond novel.  Unfortunately the one read by Tom Hiddleston is the last one!

Review:

This book does have a specific allure that is very of it's time.  James Bond is not really the most likable character - he is charming and endlessly resourceful, but his treatment of women leaves much to be desired and he can be rather judgmental.  But the adventures he gets up to, and the thrill of the suspense is really addicting, so even if I was shaking my head at various points,  I really enjoyed the gripping story.

The piecemeal way in which Bond tries to get at the sinister and equally resourceful Blofeld made for an interesting plot structure.  Pure luck and basic detective works helps him infiltrate Blofeld's home base, and Bond's undercover work as Sir Hilary was pretty ingeniously done.  The cleverness of the story and the way Bond handles the dangers that comes his way is the highlight of this book.  Although his easy manipulation of women is really a bit depressing!

This book features Teresa di Vicenzo or Tracy (and later Tracy Bond).  As this is the only book where Bond gets married, I was expecting Tracy to be much more of a stand out character.  Although after Bond's seemingly impetuous proposal, he does think over why he would like to marry her, it seemed pretty flimsy reasoning to me and I was hoping for a stronger female character in Tracy.  Her only redeeming point it seems is that her driving skills are excellent.  Which must be very important to Bond according to the many descriptive passages about cars (and alcohol, and card playing) in this book.

I'm definitely planning to read more Bond stories as this is the first one I've ever read, and it was really enjoyable despite my grousing over characters.  The fun is in the suspense and the danger and in Bond's wry commentary.  This particular book had a very heartbreaking ending as well which was surprisingly emotional given how much I was not taken with the romance.

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1 comment:

  1. I've always found Bond obnoxious in the movies because of the way women fall all over him. I was hoping that the books would be better, but since they sound equally bad, I probably won't be picking them up. Great review :)

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