For author John Cork the hardest book to follow on from must have been James Bond: The Legacy. And with Maryam d'Abo as co-writer he has done that with Bond Girls Are Forever, but only to an extent. `Legacy' was such a brilliant work that it is almost impossible to follow on from, especially when trying to generate the same sort of impact.
Now, it may seem unfair to compare `Legacy' to 'Bond Girls', perhaps even unprofessional. They are, admittedly, two separate works. Yet, I couldn't help but compare the two as soon as I picked up `Bond Girls'. And it isn't just for John Cork's name on the cover, but rather the size. The first thing you'll notice is that this book is in the same coffee table size as `Legacy', the second thing you'll notice is that it is a lot thinner and lighter. I couldn't help be disappointed by that difference and it seems apparent that the publishers wanted `Bond Girls' to evoke the memory of `Legacy' and it does, but not in the positive sense they had hoped for.
However, that's not to say that the book itself is bad. Much like `Legacy', there I go comparing the two again - sorry but I shan't stop, the textual content is of a high standard. I'm not really sure who wrote what in the book, I got the feeling that d'Abo wrote a lot less of the content than Cork, but what's written is quite interesting. While interesting facts can be found throughout, it's the social analysis that comes across as the most appealing and unique. `Bond Girls' moves beyond the world of 007 to show how women as a whole were portrayed across time, using figures such as Marylin Monroe to contrast the end of the frigid fifties and the beginning of the sexually charged sixties. In drawing on wider social issues the book aids the reader, and I believe this would be particularly true of the younger one, in their understanding of the world that Ian Fleming introduced the Bond Girl too.
Sadly, the visual content is not of the same calibre as the textual content. While the pictures are produced in brilliant quality, there are too few that haven't been seen before. The majority of the images are common, and the use of images from Greg William's Bond On Set: The Making Of Die Another Day borders on the repetitive. Furthermore, while it is nice to see the 50's Pan paperback artwork created by Sam Peffer reproduced in such a large format, it again harks back to the notion that these images are not new to Bond fans and as such, the reproduction of three covers across three full pages feels like overkill.
Despite the lack of photographic gems, the visual layout of `Bond Girls' is to be commended. The formatting and printing and both clear and crisp and this is particularly evident where large quotes have been included.
This review may have come across as far too negative as `Bond Girls' is still of high quality. But its replication of `Legacy' in its size, and it's lack of photographic gems sadly let it down. But at the same time, textual content is still of a high standard. It's up to the reader to nominate what they prefer. Personally, I favour a coffee table sized book with stunning visuals.