Skip to main content

Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming

Cover image © Penguin Viking
So, having read and enjoyed Casino Royale, I couldn't really resist reading Live and Let Die (1954). Most people who have seen the films maybe haven't read the books and frankly they're missing out. What has continued to delight me about the novels is the fact that they are a lot darker and more serious than the Bond films. 

In the second novel, James Bond is called into action to take on a Harlem gangster, Mr Big, and his network of criminality that inevitably leads back to SMERSH. The nature of Mr Big's activities revolves around the selling of 17th Century gold coins in order to bankroll Soviet spies' operations in the USA. Meaning that the locus of the tensions moves from British-Soviet relations to US-Soviet relations - the biggest area of tension during the Cold War. 

From Harlem and the jazz clubs, all the way to the Everglades, it seems that Mr Big's network is endless and this claustrophobia is recreated in Fleming's writing. The story eventually leads to the tropical paradise of Jamaica where Mr Big has his island base. 

There is of course the customary damsel in distress, Solitaire, who is able to see into the future. Having been used in the past by Mr Big to build his operations, she defects to assist Bond before being kidnapped and taken to Mr Big's mysterious island off the coast of mainland Jamaica. 

The action has serious pace, yet the novel does the depth of the characters a whole lot more justice than the film ever could. You really get a sense of the threat of the violence and edginess emanating from the voodoo underworld throughout - something lost in the technicolour campness of the 1973 film. 

Fleming's writing, it is clear to see, had developed by the time of writing the second Bond novel. The plot is a lot tighter and moves fluidly from chapter to chapter, almost always having a small cliffhanger at the end of each. Of particular interest to modern readers are the terms by which Fleming refers to the black characters. Words such as 'purple' to describe very dark skin tone, 'nigger' and 'negress' are all terms that show the novel is of its time - whether the use of such words is racist, or just displaying the mild ignorance of the period, is for scholars to decide.

Review for Live and Let Die adapted from an Ayohcee review previously available on LivingSocial:Books before the closure of that site.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

From a Crooked Rib by Nuruddin Farah

I stumbled across Nuruddin Farah’s novels when searching for something written by a Somali author. Perhaps due to the conflict that has raged for years in Somalia, it is very difficult to find much from Somali writers published in English.
From a Crooked Rib was published in 1970 and tells the story of Ebla, a young, orphaned, illiterate nomadic girl, who runs away from her encampment. She takes the decision to leave upon learning of her Grandfather’s intention to marry her off to an older man within their Jes (a group of families living in an encampment together).
She firstly escapes to a town, Belet Amin, where she finds her cousin and his pregnant wife. She also finds a guide and confidante in a character known only as the widow. Things seem settled until, yet again, Ebla finds her freedom compromised by a male character – this time her cousin, whose wife and child Ebla has been nursing.
In her haste she leaves Belet Amin with the widow’s nephew, bound for Mogadishu – still called

Atay Maghrebi: Hendrix Myths on The Road to Sidi Kaouki

The familiar washed-out and salt-tinged ocean air coloured the sky, lending it a soft pastel-blue light as I sat and tried to recall what I had been doing the day before.
I hadn’t been feeling one hundred percent since eating a weird tasting keftatagine in a Marrakech establishment (that shall remain nameless), but I was beginning to feel little more like myself after a few days of freshly cooked food at the Atlantic Hostel.
As I sat on the sofa at the highest point of the roof terrace, my red Moleskine in my hand, I spotted to my left a pile of blankets and thought nothing of it. That is, until it started moving and a young man who looked like an Amazigh version of Captain Jack Sparrow emerged, greeted me in French and stumbled down the stairs.

After a few coffees, I went searching for some light breakfast and a short walk away from the Hostel, on Rue de Hajjali, found Le Patisserie Driss. 
None of the pastries or cakes seemed to have a sign, but using a combination of pointing, F…

Breaking the Barriers to Girls’ Education in the Developing World

Whenever I have written about time I’ve spent in East Africa, I often talk about the fact that geography plays such a big role in how different my life is compared to someone there. What I hadn’t realised until much more recently is that not only does somebody’s physical location in the world play a massive part in the opportunities available to them, but so does their gender.
One question that begs to be asked is: why is it that girls in particular are less likely to get access to education in poorer countries?
According to Plan UK, women earn 30-60% of men’s earnings for similar jobs and women are more likely to be in low-paid employment, yet an extra year of secondary school boosts a girl’s eventual future wage by 15-25%. Many don't even have the opportunity to get this far.
There are obvious cultural and economic pressures dictating that boys, as historical breadwinners, should be pushed to the fore and afforded the greater opportunities to be educated.
After all, imagine you are…