From Russia With Love

From Russia With Love (James Bond, #5) - Ian Fleming

Oh dear. Where to start.


Reading this book, I got the impression that the original manuscript Fleming turned in to his publisher was deemed too short, and subsequently Fleming was required to pad the word count with what is now erroneously referred to as “Part One: The Plan” (a more apt name would be “Part One: The Villain Monologues”). This theory might also explain why Fleming felt compelled to expand – mid-dialogue, in brackets – on the context of the sly digs the Russian officials were dishing out to each other during their interminable who-should-we-kill-to-flex-our-international-muscles meeting which could have been summed up in a single paragraph (and which bore a striking resemblance to an actual love letter to the British Secret Service, which is apparently the bestest on the whole planet because all the other countries except maybe Sweden are stupid, but Sweden doesn’t care about spy scandals. You really are Great, dear Britain. Sincerely, Russia xoxo).


Once we wade through the life story of a nameless masseuse and the minute physical description of her client, followed by the life story of said client, followed by the life story of the different branches of Russian Intelligence and their conference room, followed by that interminable meeting which includes the life stories of the department heads, followed by a chess game, followed by more meetings, followed by the life story of this book’s Bond Girl, we FINALLY get to Part Two, which starts off with a bang, and by “bang” I mean a description of Bond’s current state of ennui that’s nearly as interminable as this sentence.


And THEN the real story starts. Slowly. Nearly halfway through the book.


Someone forgot to put the thrill in this spy thriller.


Unless you’re thrilled by 1950s-style racism, misogyny, homophobia, and British nationalism, in which case you may find this a most thrilling work of fiction.


I know I've seen the movie, but I honestly can't remember much about it. After reading the novel, I suspect that may be due to a subconscious act of mental self-defense.