I have so many issues with this. The rampant misogyny, of course. The fact that, personally, I find the whole espionage reason d'etre detestable. And generally, the part where this was not the story I was expecting.
Let's say I waive away the misogyny with a bit of dark amusement (passing the middle-point, I just wanted Vesper to stick it to Bond; and then there is the line "sweet tang of rape" that should be killed with fire, you can get some great examples under the spoiler tag), and take the spy tale on the hope that it'll be some fast action cheap-thrill. I did not get even that. I got a lot of card-playing, torture, and then a mess... I don't even know of what category, certainly not romantic, maybe melodrama. Hell, I though it was already cheap that a woman couldn't be competent unless she was evil, but it was something (see, even lowering my standards to not be an angry female, what a waste), and then Vesper couldn't even rate to Femme-fatal. So no, there is no way to waive the misogyny. It's entrenched into the plot.
Someone could argue it's truer to the real world and the era, either the unexciting grimness or Bond's stance. I say fuck all that. Let us please have no more Vespers in real life, no more Bonds being glorified in fiction. Let us find other icons.
You can find some the shout-inducing bits here
Women were for recreation. On a job, they got in the way and fogged things up with sex and hurt feelings and all the emotional baggage they carried around. One had to look out for them and take care of them.
Charming, huh? Another beauty:
And luck in all its moods had to be loved and not feared. Bond saw luck as a woman, to be softly wooed or brutally ravaged, never pandered to or pursued. But he was honest enough to admit that he had never yet been made to suffer by cards or by women. One day, and he accepted the fact he would be brought to his knees by love or by luck. When that happened he knew that he too would be branded with the deadly question-mark he recognized so often in others, the promise to pay before you have lost: the acceptance of fallibility.
Women, if they defeat you, take away you self-assurance.
This was just what he had been afraid of. These blithering women who thought they could do a man's work. Why the hell couldn't they stay at home and mind their pots and pans and stick to their frocks and gossip and leave men's work to the men. And now for this to happen to him, just when the job had come off so beautifully. For Vesper to fall for an old trick like that and get herself snatched and probably held to ransom like some bloody heroine in a strip cartoon. The silly bitch.
He really likes that word.
'Torture is a terrible thing,' he was saying as he puffed at a fresh cigarette, 'but it is a simple matter for the torturer, particularly when the patient,' he smiled at the word, 'is a man. You see, my dear Bond, with a man it is quite unnecessary to indulge in refinements. With this simple instrument, or with almost any other object, one can cause a man as much pain as is possible or necessary. Do not believe what you read in novels or books about the war. There is nothing worse. It is not only the immediate agony, but also the thought that your manhood is being gradually destroyed and that at the end, if you will not yield, you will no longer be a man.
The bad guy has more respect for a woman that the "hero". Women are more difficult, not because of some chivalrous bullshit, but because men are so attached to their organ *eye-roll*. And for the WTF crown:
And now he knew that she was profoundly, excitingly sensual, but that the conquest of her body, because of the central privacy in her, would each time have the sweet tang of rape.
It's supposed to be romantic. But then, this is just the inner character commentary, you have to still contend with the plot if you can go past that. Fuck this, I'm done.
The main character was clearly dropped on her head as a child, and I had a lot of other issues with this book. Weirdly I still enjoyed the writing style, enough so that I didn't ditch the book. Which is saying something. The topic was also rather interesting.
Still had some major issues, like the MC being insanely shallow. 2 (ish) stars.