I don’t read much non fiction and I certainly don’t read many biographies, she says having read one about Henry VIII’s wives over the summer, so I’m not sure why I randomly picked up Andrew Lycett’s biography of Ian Fleming on a recent trip to the library. I can’t even claim it is a book I have wanted to read for ages, as I hadn’t seen it before that library visit and I can’t claim to be a huge Fleming fan, having only read Dr No. I have seen most Bond films and I did want to be a Bond girl when I was younger, but that is about it. Oh and we used to love playing Goldeneye on the N64 as I was growing up, but that hardly makes me the biggest fan in the world. So yes this was certainly a random and unexpected read.
It is very rare that I check a book out of the library and start reading it straight away but I did with Ian Fleming. It was just such an interesting read. Having lost his father in the First World War, Fleming was brought up largely by his exotic sounding mother, a woman who was quite domineering and certainly led a book worthy life herself, turning up one day with a baby she ‘adopted’ in tow. For most of his childhood and early adulthood Fleming felt overshadowed by his older brother, Peter and certainly rebelled against this and seemed to spend a lot of time flitting from place to place not really settling to one thing. He worked as a journalist before the outbreak of war in 1939 and was pretty successful with this, but it was the Second a World War that seems to have made him, playing a key role in Intelligence. After the war Fleming continued working as a journalist, before buying Goldeneye, his home in Jamaicia, where he would aim to churn out a new Bond book every year.
Due to school I feel as though it has been a while since I actually read this book, so almost like I can’t remember what happened and I think the fact I started another book at the same time didn’t help. One of the most prominent narrative threads in the biography centred on Fleming’s love life and in particular his relationship with Ann, the mistress he eventually married decades after their relationship started. She had at least two husbands during the course of their relationship and even after marriage neither could stay faithful and in Ann’s case she appears tortured by Ian’s relationships with other women. Much has been said about Fleming’s sadistic approach to sex and controlling women however this biography didn’t dwell on this aspect of Fleming’s life, but it was certainly clear that Fleming had little respect or time for women, arguably an attitude he propelled onto his hero, Bond.
The creation of Bond was really fascinating and I loved exploring how Fleming took inspiration from his travels, his war work and the stories he was told by friends. Whilst I liked reading about this it did make me a little sad about how boring my life is in comparison. Maybe because I’m not as glamorous as Fleming, or I live in a world where social media and technology has taken over so we don’t have much mystery or romance and certainly nowhere near as much as the world Fleming inhabited. I love the mystery surrounding travelling and exploring countries you had previously known little about.
I feel this is a bit of a crap review as I can’t remember much of the book in detail, I just know that I enjoyed it and I would like to try and read more biographies. As I was writing this review I also remembered that I really want to watch the show about Ian Fleming starring Dominic Cooper so maybe that had something to do with my picking the book up in the first place.