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Happenstance, Coincidence and Enemy Action,
This review is from: Goldfinger (Audio CD)
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If your only experience of James Bond has come via the big screen, then Ian Fleming's original creation may come as something of a revelation. Gone are all traces of the debonair, suave and entirely self-assured silver screen version of 007; Fleming's version of the character is altogether more fallible and often haunted by self-doubt. Fleming's version is more nuanced than you'll find portrayed in the films, often at odds with the world as it is. There is also no snobbery about him, either; rather the exact opposite, as he often finds himself having more in common with the men he is sent after than for those whom he serves. And while driven by a deep sense of honour and of chivalry, he is, if anything, even more sexist, misogynistic and homophobic than his silver screen alter ego. These latter unpleasant traits really come to the fore in "Goldfinger", the seventh of the novels, dating from 1959 -- and rather showing its age, these days.
Fleming's original storylines are generally far more involved and much better structured than the bastardised versions adopted by the film franchise. This isn't so true of "Goldfinger" however, which has as somewhat rambling and unsatisfying storyline in the book -- effectively being three story episodes stitched together to make a larger narrative, in places making even less sense than the screenplay. Bond's role in the book, particularly in the later stages is more as passive observer than as action figure, giving the story an unbalanced and unsatisfying feel.
For those who would rather have books read to them than read them for themselves, AudioGo's series of complete and unexpurgated CD audio books of Ian Fleming Bond stories, released under the series title, "007 Reloaded", offer an excellent alternative to printed copy. This volume is admirably read by Hugh Bonneville across a total of 8 CDs, with a total running time of approx 7hr 45mins. As a recording, this release can be highly recommended, despite the weaknesses in the book's storyline.