With For Your Eyes Only Ian Fleming broke with tradition. Rather than the regular annual novel his fans had become used to expecting he used the plotlines from an abandoned TV show for four of the stories and added a fifth.
Author: Ian Fleming
Publication date: 11th April 1960
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Cover artist: Richard Chopping
Three of the stories are more or less traditional Bond stories in short form. These are From A View to a Kill, For Your Eyes Only and Risico. The remainder, Quantum of Solace and The Hildebrand Rarity are something of oddities that allowed Fleming to experiment with his writing. The former was first published in the November 1959 edition of Modern Woman’s Magazine.
In this article
While the short story collection disappointed many when first published, the stories work well and showcase a different side of Fleming’s writing.
What we say
Of the five stories, From A View To A Kill, For Your Eyes Only and Risico contain many of the established Bond elements. They are precisely what you’d expect to read about James Bond in short form. However, the other two are very different and quite unexpected.
Quantum of Solace is an anecdote recounted to Bond – Bond hardly appears in it at all – and The Hilderbrand Rarity finds him as a hired help while on holiday in the Seychelles, eventually involving a murder. This last story is notable for a couple of things. The first is Bond’s disgust at the sea being deliberately poisoned in order to catch a rare fish, an incident that Fleming had himself witnessed and was appalled by. The second is that Bond is told to help out in the kitchen!
The book opens with From A View To A Kill, which adds a few details to Bond’s past. We learn of the memorable evening that culminated “in the loss, almost simultaneous, of his virginity and his notecase” on his first visit to Paris aged sixteen, and that he has “cordially disliked” the city since the war for pawning its heart to the tourists.
We also learn he prefers the Terminus Nord because he likes “station hotels and because this is the least pretentious and most anonymous of them”. Built in 1865 and recently renovated to its former glory, the 3 star hotel can be found at 12 Boulevard Denain, close to the Gare Du Nord station.
While contemplating his evening Bond looks forward to a drink at Harry’s Bar or Fouquet’s, the First World War hangout for bi-plane fighter aces. Harry’s Bar at 5 rue Daunou is the birthplace of the Bloody Mary and was often frequented by Hemingway. Home to the International Bar Flies, it was famously advertised to Anglophones as being found at “Sank Roo Doe Noo”.
Friends & foes
The main characters appearing in the book are listed below by the story in which they appear.
From a View to a Kill
Major Dexter Smythe is a retired British Intelligence officer living in Jamaica with a hidden past. Bond is sent to Jamaica to confront the man about what happened.
Hannes Oberhauser is a former ski instructor and surrogate father figure to James Bond during his youth. When Oberhauser’s body is found years later the circumstances regarding his death are investigated.
For Your Eyes Only
Judy Havelock is a young woman seeking vengeance for the murder of her parents, who were Jamaican landowners killed by a three-man team of Cuban hit-men. Armed with a bow and arrow, she partners with James Bond in her quest for retribution.
Major Gonzales is the Cuban leading the team responsible for the Havelocks’ deaths and works for Von Hammerstein.
Von Hammerstein is a former member of the Gestapo who emigrated to Cuba after the Second World War. He is seeking to invest his ill gotten gains in property using any means possible.
Quantum of Solace
The Governor shares a poignant story with James Bond after a dinner party in Nassau. The story is about a failed marriage, highlighting the emotional toll of human relationships.
Philip Masters is a civil servant who worked in Nigeria and, after meeting an airhostess and marrying her, settling down in Bermuda, where the Governor worked with him.
Rhoda Llewellyn is Master’s unhappy wife and a key part of the story’s emotional narrative.
Kristatos is Bond’s initial contact in Rome but isn’t quite what he seems.
Enrico Colombo is an Italian smuggler and rival to Kristatos. His true nature is only revealed after he captures Bond.
The Hildebrand Rarity
Milton Krest is a wealthy and ruthless collector of rare marine specimens. He is a morally dubious character who is disliked by many and owns a large motor-yacht, the Wavekrest.
Liz Krest is Krest’s long-suffering wife. Originally from England, she is trapped in a turbulent and unhappy marriage.
Fidele Barbey is “the youngest of the innumerable Barbeys who own nearly everything in the Seychelles” and Bond’s contact in the Seychelles.
From a View to a Kill
At the start of the story we find 007 in Paris, reminiscing about his previous visits to the city. While lost in his thoughts a pretty blonde approaches him and tells him “Crash Dive”. She’s from the local Secret Service branch and there’s an emergency. He then goes to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), located to the west of Paris near Versailles. There he investigates the murder of a British dispatch-rider and unearths a Russian intelligence operation working in plain sight.
For Your Eyes Only
The second story starts in Jamaica with three Cuban heavies offering to buy a property that has been in the Havelock family for generations. Bond is sent by M to Vermont, via Canada, on a mission of revenge after they refuse murdered for refusing to sell.
Quantum of Solace
Quantum of Solace finds Bond in Nassau on his way to Miami. At the end of a rather dull dinner partner to which the Governor invites Bond, he tells Bond of the story of a couple’s relationship untangling dramatically while in Bermuda. At the very end Bond learns that one of the other guests that night was one of the story’s main protagonists.
All the action in this story takes place in Italy. Starting off in Rome, Bond then heads to Venice by train where he establishes his cover of a wealthy writer. The next day he takes a vaporetto to Alberoni on the Venice Lido followed by a half-mile walk to the beach at Bagni Alberoni to rendezvous with Lisl Baum. Soon after captured by Colombo’s men, Bond learns the real lie of the land and takes part in a raid a small fishing-port just north of Ancona.
The Hildebrand Rarity
Much of the story takes place on board the Wavekrest. While waiting for the next boat from the Seychelles, Bond is passing the time snorkelling in a lagoon near the southern tip of Mahé, the largest island in the Seychelles. There he is pulled into the search for a rare fish on (presumably fictional) Chagrin Island, one of the archipelago’s numerous small islands, two days out.
In From a View to a Kill, James Bond finds himself at Fouquet’s in Paris, sipping an Americano. He appreciates its simplicity, considering it the least offensive of café drinks. He insists on Perrier, believing it elevates the drink. Later, at SHAPE, he is taken to the canteen for a meal and a drink. And after successfully completing his mission he asks Mary Ann to have dinner with him the following night. “Some place like Armenonville. Pink champagne and gipsy violins.”
On his flight to Montreal in For Your Eyes Only, Bond longs for the leisurely days of the Stratocruiser. He reminisces about peaceful dinners, comfortable bunks, and hearty breakfasts with a view of the rising sun. While it’s safe to say he orders a drink on the flight, Fleming doesn’t specify what.
To fuel his journey across the border into Vermont, Bond carries a large aluminium flask filled with three-quarters bourbon and a quarter coffee. After arriving in the vicinity of Von Hammerstein’s house at Echo Lake, Bond eats and takes swig from the flask. After the mission he offers Judy a drink and uses it to clean a light bullet wound she has sustained.
In Quantum of Solace, Bond endures a rather dull dinner hosted by the Governor of the Bahamas. However, things liven up when the Governor offers a story, and Bond eagerly pours himself another inch of brandy. Halfway through his tale, the Governor pours each of them a whiskey and soda.
In Risico, Bond identifies his contact in Rome with the signal of an Alexandra cocktail. As he waits, he orders a Negroni with Gordon’s gin. At the Colomba d’Ora he drinks the house Chianti and then on the train to Venice has more of the same, which he spills on the tablecloth. While in Venice, Bond frequents Harry’s Bar, Florian’s and Quadri’s. The following day he returns to Florian’s, where he orders an Americano.
Offered a drink aboard Colombo’s boat, Bond pours himself a whisky and soda. Before the early morning raid Bond is told there will be mugs of coffee and rum at five. And afterwards they are served a hearty breakfast of fried eggs and bacon washed sown with sweet coffee laced with rum.
Aboard Milton Krest’s Wavekrest yacht in The Hildebrand Rarity, Bond takes note of Krest’s drinking habits. But while Krest indulges in three double bullshots and then beer with his lunch, there is no mention of what Bond drinks. After Bond and Barbey complete their first circuit of the island with mask and snorkel they go ashore for a lunch of chicken salad sandwiches and cold beer ashore from a cooler.
After successfully finding a specimen of the Hildebrandt Rarity, Krest celetrates with caviar and pink champagne. , Bond and the crew celebrate with caviar and pink champagne. Krest gets extremely drunk, finishing most of an entire bottle on whisky.
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