James Bond, agent with Britain’s Secret Service and with a license to kill (as denoted by the double-ought digits in his agent number, 007) meets up with Auric Goldfinger, a card cheat and greedy-for-gold businessman who is also suspected of gold smuggling and subsequently undermining world markets. Bond is given the assignment to figure out how Goldfinger is doing it. In the process, Bond discovers that Goldfinger has an even more ambitious scheme of robbing Fort Knox of $15 million in gold bullion!
One of the great things about the Bond novels is that, unlike the films, Bond is not the hero who emerges from his escapades unscathed and looking pretty. In past novels, the vicissitudes of the trade are visited upon Bond and others in rather shocking and graphic detail. As any given scene is introduced and unfolds, you really aren’t sure how it’s going to end and hence, Fleming brings true suspense to his spy thrillers:
“He let his head fall back with sigh. There was a narrow slit down the centre of the polished steel table. At the far end of the slit, like a foresight framed in the vee of his parted feet, were the glinting teeth of a circular saw.”
Scenes don’t end the way you think they will and, it’s in the how far they go that leaves readers a bit shocked or even gasping aloud.
Goldfinger was written in 1959, and what might give today’s readers/listeners pause in regards to the Bond novels is the political incorrectness in the stories. The sentiments that are expressed can be jarring and it is somewhat bizarre that in every novel so far there has been at least one passage or idea expressed that compels a knee-jerk reaction to the 21st century reader. In Goldfinger, there is this:
“Bond came to the conclusion that Tilly Masterson was one of those girls whose hormones had got mixed up. He knew the type well and thought they and their male counterparts were a direct consequence of giving votes to women and ‘sex equality’. As a result of fifty years of emancipation, feminine qualities were dying out or being transferred to the males. Pansies of both sexes were everywhere, not yet completely homosexual, but confused, not knowing what they were. The result was a herd of unhappy sexual misfits – barren and full of frustrations, the women wanting to dominate and the men to be nannied. He was sorry for them, but he had no time for them.”
Cringe-worthy indeed. Wait until you see how Fleming draws Pussy Galore
Simon Vance narrated Goldfinger ably and well: His characters are well delineated, though if one were to quibble, it would be that his American accents are not quite what they could be. Vance’s later works (e.g. Paul is Undead by Alan Goldsher wherein he narrates the part of a native Chicagoan) show how far he has come in ten years 🙂
- The Shaken, Not Stirred: A Simon Vance Audiobook Challenge Featuring James Bond hosted by @lithousewife. On Saturday, January 21, 2012, 9:30 p.m. EST, there will be a twitter discussion of the audiobook followed by a twitter viewing party of the movie 🙂
- The 2012 2012 Audio Book Challenge hosted by @teresasreading at Teresa’s Reading Corner
I borrowed an MP3-CD edition of Goldfinger (by Ian Fleming; narrated by Simon Vance) from Blackstone Audio, Inc. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.