My hubby’s a golf nut and was also into the Bond books in a big way in his teens, so when asked to name his favourite bit in Goldfinger (the tatty, dog-eared copy in my hand belongs to him) it didn’t come as too much of a surprise when he plumped, without hesitation, for the Bond v Goldfinger golf match. Now I don’t mind golf: I’ll watch the majors and the Ryder Cup; I’ve even been to a few tournaments. But when hubby comes home from playing a round and starts a shot by shot account of each hole, it takes willpower to stop my eyes glazing over. And it was much the same reading the account of the Bond v Goldfinger golf match, all three chapters and 23 pages of it – broadly 10% of the whole novel!
But why Goldfinger at all? It isn’t a book I would ever have picked up in the normal run of things but my community cinema club was screening the film and hubby has all the Bond books so it sort of made sense at the time.
Goldfinger was first published in 1959 and shows its age in so many ways, not least in its attitude to female sexuality.
Take Tilly Masterson, the sister of the PA killed by Goldfinger. “Bond came to the conclusion that Tilly Masterton 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.”
Independent women emasculating men? Nuff said!
And then there is Pussy Galore, who enters the fray in the final third of the book (page 165 in my copy). PG makes an instant impression, not only because of her nudge-nudge-wink-wink name but as “the only woman who runs a gang in America. It is a gang of women…a Lesbian organization. Even the big American gangs respect them. She is a remarkable woman.”
But this is 1959 remember. So PG isn’t really a lesbian – heavens, no – she simply hasn’t known a ‘real’ man. Or, as Fleming puts it…
“She lay in the crook of Bond’s arm and looked up at him…Bond looked down into the deep blue-violet eyes that were no longer hard, imperious…He said, “They told me you only liked women”…She said “I never met a man before”…She looked at the passionate, rather cruel mouth waiting above hers…into the fiercely slitted grey eyes….Bond’s right hand came slowly …to the right breast. Its point was hard with desire…His mouth came ruthlessly down on hers.”
Ah, that’s better, a man who knows his place in the world – “cruel”, “fiercely”, “ruthlessly” subjugating a woman because, after all, that is she really, really wants – normal patriarchal service resumed!
0 Don’t bother
(If you fancy reading a Bond book try Casino Royale instead.)