Bond Girl - in Novels

In Novels

Nearly all of Ian Fleming's Bond novels and short stories include one or more female characters who qualify as Bond girls, most of whom have been adapted for the screen. While having some individual traits, the Fleming Bond girls, at least in their literary forms, also have a great many characteristics in common. One of these is age: The typical Bond girl is in her early to mid-twenties, roughly ten years younger than Bond, who seems to be perennially in his mid-thirties. Examples include Solitaire (25), Tatiana Romanova (24), Vivienne "Viv" Michel (23), and Kissy Suzuki (23). The youngest Bond girl may be Gala Brand; she is named for the cruiser in which her father is serving at the time of her birth. If this were the Arethusa-class Galatea launched in 1934, then Gala is possibly as young as 18 at the time she meets Bond and certainly no older than 20, though she and Bond do not sleep together. If on the other hand the Galatea in question is the cruiser sold for scrap in 1921, Gala is possibly the oldest of the Bond girls, being in her mid- to late-30s and possibly as old as 40. The indications are, however, that she is young, so a 40-year-old Bond girl is unlikely in this case. Bond's youngest sexual partner in the books is Mariko Ichiban, an 18-year-old masseuse in You Only Live Twice. The eldest Bond girls are Pussy Galore, who Bond speculates to be in her early 30s and 29-year-old Domino Vitali.

Bond girls follow a fairly well-developed pattern of beauty. They possess splendid figures and tend to dress in a slightly masculine, assertive fashion, with few pieces of jewellery and that in a masculine cut, wide leather belts, and square-toed leather shoes. (There is some variation in dress, though, and Bond girls have made their first appearances in evening wear, in bra and panties and, on occasion, naked.) They often sport light though noticeable sun-tans (although a few, such as Solitaire, Tatiana Romanova, and Pussy Galore, are not only tanless but remarkably pale), and they generally use little or no makeup and no nail polish, also wearing their nails short. Their hair may be any colour ranging from blonde (Mary Goodnight) to auburn (Gala Brand) to brown (Tatiana Romanova) to blue-black (Solitaire) to black (Vesper Lynd), though they typically wear it in a natural or casual cut that falls heavily to their shoulders. Their features, especially their eyes and mouths, are often widely spaced (e.g. Vesper Lynd, Gala Brand, Tiffany Case, Tatiana Romanova, Honey Ryder, Viv Michel, Mary Goodnight). Their eyes are usually blue (e.g. Vesper Lynd, Gala Brand, Tatiana Romanova, Honey Ryder, Tracy Bond, Mary Goodnight), and sometimes this is true to an unusual and striking degree: Tiffany Case's eyes are chatoyant, varying with the light from grey to grey-blue, while Pussy Galore has deep violet eyes, the only truly violet eyes that Bond had ever seen. The first description of a Bond girl, Casino Royale's Vesper Lynd, is almost a template for the typical dress as well as the general appearance of later Bond girls; she sports nearly all of the features discussed above. In contrast, Dominetta "Domino" Vitali arguably departs to the greatest degree from the template, dressing in white leather doeskin sandals, appearing more tanned, sporting a soft Brigitte Bardot haircut, and giving no indication of widely-spaced features. (The departure may be due to the unusual circumstances behind the writing of the novel Thunderball, in which Domino appears.) Even Domino, however, wears rather masculine jewellery.

The best-known characteristic of Bond girls except for their uniform beauty is their pattern of suggestive names (the most risqué and famous being Pussy Galore). Some of these have explanations in the novels. While Solitaire's real name is Simone Latrelle, she is known as Solitaire because she excludes men from her life; Gala Brand, as noted above, is named for her father's cruiser, HMS Galatea; and Tiffany Case received her name from her father, who was so angry that she was not a boy that he gave her mother a thousand dollars and a compact from Tiffany's and then walked out on her. Conjecture is widespread that the naming convention began with the first Bond novel Casino Royale, in which the name "Vesper Lynd" is a pun on West Berlin, signifying Vesper's divided loyalties as a double agent under Soviet control. Several Bond girls, however, have normal names (e.g. Tatiana Romanova, Mary Ann Russell, Judy Havelock, Viv Michel, Tracy Bond ).

Most Bond girls are apparently (and sometimes expressly) sexually experienced by the time they meet Bond (although there is evidence that Solitaire is a virgin). Not all of their experiences, however, are positive, and many Bond girls have a history of sexual violence that often alienates them from men (until Bond comes along). This darker theme is notably absent from the early films. Tiffany Case was gang-raped as a teenager; Honey Ryder, too, was beaten and raped as a teenager by a drunken acquaintance. Pussy Galore was subjected at age 12 to incest, and rape, by her uncle. While there is no such clear-cut trauma in Solitaire's early life, there are suggestions that she, too, avoids men because of their unwanted advances in her past. Kissy Suzuki reports to Bond that during her brief career in Hollywood when she was 17, "They thought that because I am Japanese I am some sort of an animal and that my body is for everyone." The abuse and violence facing the women is also evident in the films, such as Lupe Lamora being abused by her lover Franz Sanchez in Licence to Kill, as was Andrea Anders in The Man with the Golden Gun, who sent a golden bullet to Bond in the hope he would track down her cold lover Francisco Scaramanga and "set her free", later saying "he's a monster, I hate him". The implication is that these episodes often turn the Bond girls in question against men, though upon encountering Bond they overcome their earlier antipathy and sleep with him not only willingly but eagerly. The cliché reaches its most extreme (perhaps absurd) level in Goldfinger. In this novel Pussy Galore is clearly a practising lesbian when she first meets Bond, but at the end of the novel she sleeps with him. When, in bed, he says to her "They told me you only liked women," she replies "I never met a man before."

Many Bond girls have some sort of independent job or even career, and often it is not a particularly respectable one for 1950s women. Vesper Lynd, Gala Brand, Tatiana Romanova, Mary Ann Russell, and Mary Goodnight are in intelligence or law enforcement work. By contrast, Tiffany Case and Pussy Galore are very independent-minded criminals, the latter even running her own syndicate. Most other Bond girls, even when they have more conventional or glamorous jobs, show an investment in their independent outlook on life. While the Bond girls are clearly intended as sex objects, they nevertheless have a degree of independence that the Bond films tended to dispense with until nearly 1980.

Most of the novels focus on one particular romance, as some of them do not occur for a while into the novel (Casino Royale is a good example). However, several exceptions have been made: In Goldfinger, the Masterson sisters are considered Bond girls (although Tilly is a lesbian), and after their deaths, Pussy Galore (also a lesbian) becomes the primary Bond girl. In Thunderball, Bond romances Patricia Fearing, followed by Domino Vitali. In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond enters into a relationship and an eventual marriage with Teresa 'Tracy' di Vicenzo, and sleeps with Ruby Windsor, a patient he meets in Blofeld's hideout while posing as a genealogist. In You Only Live Twice, Bond has relationships with Kissy Suzuki, mainly, but also romances Mariko Ichiban, and a girl so insignificant that she is unnamed.

Several Bond girls have obvious signs of inner turmoil (Vesper Lynd or Vivienne Michel), and others have traumatic pasts. Most Bond girls that are allowed to develop are flawed, and several have unhappy sexual backgrounds (Honey Ryder, Pussy Galore, Tiffany Case, Vivienne Michel, and Kissy Suzuki, among others). It is perhaps this vulnerability that draws them to Bond, aside from Bond himself being irresistible to women.

Read more about this topic:  Bond Girl

Famous quotes containing the word novels:

    Some time ago a publisher told me that there are four kinds of books that seldom, if ever, lose money in the United States—first, murder stories; secondly, novels in which the heroine is forcibly overcome by the hero; thirdly, volumes on spiritualism, occultism and other such claptrap, and fourthly, books on Lincoln.
    —H.L. (Henry Lewis)

    The light that radiates from the great novels time can never dim, for human existence is perpetually being forgotten by man and thus the novelists’ discoveries, however old they may be, will never cease to astonish.
    Milan Kundera (b. 1929)