Just finished reading Moonraker...

And it’s my favorite of the three so far! (Too bad the movie apparently bears little resemblance to it.)

One of the things I liked most about it was how it subverted some of my presuppositions.  Namely, the only way to go into reading the Bond novels is knowing that you’re going to keep running into casual racism, sexism, and homophobia. Live and Let Die certainly had racism in spades abundance–but since it was British racism, it was different in many key ways than the American 1950s racism I’m used to seeing, so it was at least sociologically interesting on that level. (But seriously, the plot basically hinges on all black people knowing each other.)

Moonraker, however, has two incredibly competent female characters, and Fleming writes both of them with empathy and respect.  Take this passage about Bond’s secretary, Loelia Ponsonby:

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Loelia Mary, Lady Lindsay, née Ponsonby (6 February 1902 – 1 November 1993), was a British peeress, needlewoman and magazine editor. One of the Bright Young People, she met the twice divorced Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster. They were married on 20 February 1930 in a blaze of publicity, with Winston Churchill as the best man, but were unable to have children. Her marriage to the enormously wealthy peer failed and was described by James Lees-Milne as “a definition of unadulterated hell”. It was dissolved in 1947 after years of separation.

The diamond halo tiara of Loelia, Duchess of Westminster

Reminiscent of a Chinese headdress, this Belle Époquestyle tiara was made for the Duke’s third wife, Loelia Mary Ponsonby. Framed in baguette diamond banding, the center-stone, the round brilliant George IV diamond (originally believed to be the Harrison diamond) is flanked by the equally abdominous Arcots and no less than 1421 smaller diamonds. The tiara was pieced to form a design of Pavè-set scrolls with arcading. The tiara can be heightened with the addition of a diamond strand around the outer edge of the tiara