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.
While the short story collection disappointed many when first published, they work well and showcase a different style to Fleming.
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”.
Paperback: Amazon UK | Amazon US
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