Anatomy of a Book: From Russia With Love, by Ian Fleming

frwlbookA blue and green dragon-fly flashed out from among the rose bushes at the base of the garden and hovered in mid-air a few inches above the base of the man’s spine. (p.14)

Detail throughout each setting. That is a hook in Ian Fleming’s novel. It feels fast past, as moments flicker by, but it controlled writing.

The colonel did not answer or look up from the rose. Grant followed the man in plain clothes out of the room. (p.35)

Only the moments Fleming feels that need to be explained are given detail. Either to enliven a scene, as with the dragon-fly, or to give authority/believability to the story. This is evident in that the main character of Fleming’s novel is not featured in person until p.99, and first mentioned on p.52.

He said hesitantly, ‘There is a man called Bond.’ (p.52)

This was the first James Bond novel I have read, and it was very interesting to see that it was very well written. Not some slock spy story like that some of the films made of the books. This is quite good, and very much worth the read to see how Fleming uses some of the standards of a good story.

Changing Status:

Russia v the world. This book is set in the 1950s, and the Russians are trying to display power in the espionage world. The want to discredit James Bond, humiliate the British Secret Service, and display dominance to the other world powers.

High Stakes:

Human life. James Bond is to die, and others will.

Believable Characters:

Fleming often based the characters in his stories on real people. In fact he begins this novel with a statement that includes this: …General Grubozaboyschikov was its chief. My description of his appearance is correct. (p.11)

Time Pressure:

Importantly each scene is written as though it is a short story. They last about ten pages, and move the story along briskly. Never at breakneck speed, but at a reasonable pace. Also, the key events take place in the space of one week. Other events and skipped, and only stated to have occurred.


It is interesting to learn about Russia and their philosophy on life. There is also a lot of consideration about actions and motives.


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