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Topic: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

This is another topic designed to collate mainstream James Bond fan opinion on the work of John Gardner - this time we're going to look at John Gardner's 1993 novel Never Send Flowers. In many ways, this one is the author's most experimental one since The Man From Barbarossa in 1991 and Brokenclaw in 1990. Here, James Bond is on the trail of a crazed serial killer who has struck around the globe, killing numerous high-profile figures over the course of a week. Then, he kills MI5 agent Laura March and this brings James Bond (Dr. No/LALD film style) into the equation. James Bond is portrayed much more as a police detective throughout, which is in fact in keeping with Fleming and in keeping with Gardner - see Scorpius and WLOD for further evidence of this. This is a spy thriller/serial killer novel in the style of Patricia Cornwell (who was friends with John Gardner). It features calling cards in the form of the deathly symbolism of a bleeding rose, mistaken identities, disguises, a theatre museum, a castle called Schloss Drache, the 'madman in the attic' Victorian subplot, the title also recalling the classy Bondian titles of old where DIE, DEATH or KILL were not required to refer to death and danger.

Then there are the critical points - Princess Diana and her sons as real-life targets, the use of Euro Disney as a locations and Bond's general waxing lyrical about Disney and Disneyland througout. Apparently he went to Disney World with a girlfriend and really enjoyed it! Controversial until you start reading the first chapter of Fleming's OHMSS where Bond reviews his childhood.

I'm currently writing a lengthy monograph on this experimental Gardner novel from the later Gardner term and I would really like to hear Bond fan opinions on this one.

Did the experimentation that Gardner increasingly resorted to from 1990 onwards have anything to do with the fact that he was being accused of having an anachronistic secret agent character in James Bond, so-called Cold Warrior of the 1950s and 1960s revived in the 1990s and the New World Order. The reversion to a serial killer plot suggests there may be something worth exploring here!

Last edited by Silhouette Man (29th Dec 2016 17:00)

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In memory of Ian Fleming, Sir Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Sir Roger Moore

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Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

As an update, I think that this is a very timely hour to look afresh at Never Send Flowers by John Gardner as 15 July 2013 marks the 20th Anniversary of its publication in the UK in 1993. It is also timely due to the fact that Never Send Flowers was republished in the UK and the US in November 2012, happily in time for the anniversary.

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3

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

Any interest?

I'm planning a review series called The Year of the Flower on The Bondologist Blog looking at the unnoticed role of flowers in the phenomenally wide universe of James Bond.

Would really love to hear AJB members' views on this one!

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In memory of Ian Fleming, Sir Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Sir Roger Moore

4

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

Sorry...its just a crap book and Gardner was obviously too ill to craft a better story...its clear he just trotted this one out to fulfil his contract...no thought and no imagination used in this one  ajb007/crap

YNWA: Justice For The 96

Sometimes no news is just bad news taking it's fvcking time

5

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

I haven't actually read the book, but because of Silhouette Man and his love of the book, I'm trying to find a copy, is it worth it?  Though I have a huge Book list to go through, and I really need to finish Fellowship of the ring.

“The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. "
-Casino Royale, Ian Fleming

6

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

Is it worth it ? No....for completists only...

YNWA: Justice For The 96

Sometimes no news is just bad news taking it's fvcking time

7

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

Sir Miles wrote:

Sorry...its just a crap book and Gardner was obviously too ill to craft a better story...its clear he just trotted this one out to fulfil his contract...no thought and no imagination used in this one  ajb007/crap

I'd have to disagree with you there - it is a good book, not the best book in the world or anything, it could have benefitted from some tighter editing. But it's an interesting experiment, as I've said before from 1990 onwards Gardner started to experiment with Bond, with some interesting results, to say the least...

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In memory of Ian Fleming, Sir Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Sir Roger Moore

8

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

James Suzuki wrote:

I haven't actually read the book, but because of Silhouette Man and his love of the book, I'm trying to find a copy, is it worth it?  Though I have a huge Book list to go through, and I really need to finish Fellowship of the ring.

You can get a cheap copy on Amazon for little over a fiver. Go and get it. I'm writing a very lengthy article on this and other things! It'll appear on The Bondologist Blog in July 2013 - 20 years after the publication of Never Send Flowers.

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In memory of Ian Fleming, Sir Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Sir Roger Moore

9

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

SILHOUETTE MAN wrote:
James Suzuki wrote:

I haven't actually read the book, but because of Silhouette Man and his love of the book, I'm trying to find a copy, is it worth it?  Though I have a huge Book list to go through, and I really need to finish Fellowship of the ring.

You can get a cheap copy on Amazon for little over a fiver. Go and get it. I'm writing a very lengthy article on this and other things!

I'll try and get a hold of it via Book Depositry, and I'll post a,review on it. But it won't be till about March if I'm lucky

“The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. "
-Casino Royale, Ian Fleming

10

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

SILHOUETTE MAN wrote:
Sir Miles wrote:

Sorry...its just a crap book and Gardner was obviously too ill to craft a better story...its clear he just trotted this one out to fulfil his contract...no thought and no imagination used in this one  ajb007/crap

I'd have to disagree with you there - it is a good b ook, not the best book in the world or anything, it could have benefitted from some tighter editing. But it's an interesting experiment, as I've said before from 1990 onwards Gardner started to experiment with Bond, with some interesting results, to say the least...

I think the book would have benefited from burning....but I'm happy to agree to disagree  ajb007/biggrin

YNWA: Justice For The 96

Sometimes no news is just bad news taking it's fvcking time

11

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

James Suzuki wrote:
SILHOUETTE MAN wrote:
James Suzuki wrote:

I haven't actually read the book, but because of Silhouette Man and his love of the book, I'm trying to find a copy, is it worth it?  Though I have a huge Book list to go through, and I really need to finish Fellowship of the ring.

You can get a cheap copy on Amazon for little over a fiver. Go and get it. I'm writing a very lengthy article on this and other things!

I'll try and get a hold of it via Book Depositry, and I'll post a,review on it. But it won't be till about March if I'm lucky

That's great - I'd like more Bond fans to set aside some time and read this Bond novel. You could do a lot worse - I've studied it for years!

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In memory of Ian Fleming, Sir Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Sir Roger Moore

12

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

Okay, If I have any questions about the book, I'll know who to ask.

“The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. "
-Casino Royale, Ian Fleming

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Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

Sir Miles wrote:
SILHOUETTE MAN wrote:
Sir Miles wrote:

Sorry...its just a crap book and Gardner was obviously too ill to craft a better story...its clear he just trotted this one out to fulfil his contract...no thought and no imagination used in this one  ajb007/crap

I'd have to disagree with you there - it is a good b ook, not the best book in the world or anything, it could have benefitted from some tighter editing. But it's an interesting experiment, as I've said before from 1990 onwards Gardner started to experiment with Bond, with some interesting results, to say the least...

I think the book would have benefited from burning....but I'm happy to agree to disagree  ajb007/biggrin

Blashpemy! The Devil take thee, you film Bond fiend!!!  ajb007/lol  ajb007/lol

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In memory of Ian Fleming, Sir Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Sir Roger Moore

14

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

James Suzuki wrote:

Okay, If I have any questions about the book, I'll know who to ask.

Yes, I'm a NSF nut - I've had this article in mind since about 2007 - been working on it since 2009, on and off, of course. Read it after Tolkien, if you can, at all!  ajb007/smile

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In memory of Ian Fleming, Sir Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Sir Roger Moore

15

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

SILHOUETTE MAN wrote:

Blashpemy! The Devil take thee, you film Bond fiend!!!  ajb007/lol  ajb007/lol

Not true...I would wager I've read more Bond books than yourself   ajb007/martini

YNWA: Justice For The 96

Sometimes no news is just bad news taking it's fvcking time

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Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

Sir Miles wrote:
SILHOUETTE MAN wrote:
Sir Miles wrote:

Sorry...its just a crap book and Gardner was obviously too ill to craft a better story...its clear he just trotted this one out to fulfil his contract...no thought and no imagination used in this one  ajb007/crap

I'd have to disagree with you there - it is a good b ook, not the best book in the world or anything, it could have benefitted from some tighter editing. But it's an interesting experiment, as I've said before from 1990 onwards Gardner started to experiment with Bond, with some interesting results, to say the least...

I think the book would have benefited from burning....but I'm happy to agree to disagree  ajb007/biggrin

In the spirit of AJB literary Bond revivalism that I've been pursuing, "Give it another go". Join The Never Send Flowers Appreciation Society, of which I am the President on Facebook, today!

Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog (TBB)
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In memory of Ian Fleming, Sir Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Sir Roger Moore

17

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

Sir Miles wrote:
SILHOUETTE MAN wrote:

Blashpemy! The Devil take thee, you film Bond fiend!!!  ajb007/lol  ajb007/lol

Not true...I would wager I've read more Bond books than yourself   ajb007/martini

I don't bet, so forget the wager. I'm still haunted by 'The Man From the South' - "a good BIG BET...."  ajb007/lol

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In memory of Ian Fleming, Sir Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Sir Roger Moore

18

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

SILHOUETTE MAN wrote:
Sir Miles wrote:
SILHOUETTE MAN wrote:

I'd have to disagree with you there - it is a good b ook, not the best book in the world or anything, it could have benefitted from some tighter editing. But it's an interesting experiment, as I've said before from 1990 onwards Gardner started to experiment with Bond, with some interesting results, to say the least...

I think the book would have benefited from burning....but I'm happy to agree to disagree  ajb007/biggrin

In the spirit of AJB literary Bond revivalism that I've been pursuing, "Give it another go". Join The Never Send Flowers Appreciation Society, of which I am the President on Facebook, today!

I've read it three times or so already....its not high up on my list for another read...

YNWA: Justice For The 96

Sometimes no news is just bad news taking it's fvcking time

19

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

Sir Miles wrote:
SILHOUETTE MAN wrote:
Sir Miles wrote:

I think the book would have benefited from burning....but I'm happy to agree to disagree  ajb007/biggrin

In the spirit of AJB literary Bond revivalism that I've been pursuing, "Give it another go". Join The Never Send Flowers Appreciation Society, of which I am the President on Facebook, today!

I've read it three times or so already....its not high up on my list for another read...

Ah, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, GO ON!

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In memory of Ian Fleming, Sir Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Sir Roger Moore

20

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

I'd really like to get more interest going in this overlooked James Bond novel Never Send Flowers. Feel free to follow my The Bondologist Blog on Twitter @Dragonpol.

If you haven't already read it, go out and get a copy now on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Never-Send-Flow … amp;sr=8-1

You can get a copy in the UK for as little as £2.94 new! not including P&P at £2.80.

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In memory of Ian Fleming, Sir Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Sir Roger Moore

21

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

This is what I want you all to do - read Never Send Flowers by John Gardner!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=en … 0&NR=1

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In memory of Ian Fleming, Sir Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Sir Roger Moore

22

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

I read this when it was published, then again a few years ago. It's not my favourite Gardner (that came earlier) but it's not the worst (that came later). Flicka I liked, and Our Man was a shade less cardboard here than in other continuation novels.
I wouldn't mind giving it another read then commenting here, but that would be after I finish The Hobbit... again. (Can't escape Tolkien here, SM!)

10 songs done for next CD- one more started, one being discarded.

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Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

Barbel wrote:

I read this when it was published, then again a few years ago. It's not my favourite Gardner (that came earlier) but it's not the worst (that came later). Flicka I liked, and Our Man was a shade less cardboard here than in other continuation novels.
I wouldn't mind giving it another read then commenting here, but that would be after I finish The Hobbit... again. (Can't escape Tolkien here, SM!)

Thanks, Barbel, I look forward to your views!

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In memory of Ian Fleming, Sir Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Sir Roger Moore

24

Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

In progress right now- started it yesterday, and am about 2/3 through. Whatever one may feel about Gardner as a James Bond writer, he's a professional writer and knows his stuff.

As I said before his 007 is more rounded this time, less one-dimensional than he can be in  the non-Fleming novels. As a first for me, I actually could see Craig as Bond in the sequences set in his Chelsea flat. Most of the time, though, he's Dalton (perhaps because of the time the book was written?).

Flicka has always been one of my favourite female lead characters, and she truly is a schöne Grüße- the reverse of a Goodnight  ajb007/lol ?

One thing grates though (not just in this book) - "Captain Bond".... yuck!

10 songs done for next CD- one more started, one being discarded.

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Re: Your views on John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993)?

Gardner can't be accused of being light with his symbolism. Most Bond stories, as pointed out in the sixties by such writers as Kingsley Amis and Ann S. Boyd, are variations on the theme of St George slaying the dragon and saving the beautiful princess. Sometimes there are little pointers along the way (Drax's real name being "Drache", which translates as dragon; Blofeld's kimono; Tatania's being distantly related to the Romanovs; etc) but it's fairly well hidden as a rule. In NSF the reader is hit over the head with the concept fairly thoroughly, as 007 rescues a beautiful real-life princess from the evil Dragon Head who lives in Dragon Castle. This to be done in fairyland. Specifically referred to by M as a white knight, in a chapter called "The White Knight", Bond of course fills the hero's shoes.

This theme, however, only dominates the novel towards the end. James Bond is partnered with Swiss agent Flicka von Grüsse as they track down an international assassin. Chief suspect is acting megastar David Dragonpol ("Dragon Head"), who has retired early and lives in a magnificent castle on the Rhine, Schloss Drache ("Dragon Castle"). Late in the story Bond races to save Princess Diana and her sons from assassination in Euro Disney.

There's an excellent sibling subplot which could carry an entire story in itself

Spoiler The Prestige

- unfortunately this isn't fully developed and in the end comes to very little. Much the same could be said for the Grant and Chantry characters- good potential, but it only comes across as padding.

There's an effective technique of starting a chapter in the middle of the action, often dramatically, then flashing back to an earlier point in the narrative and progressing until the opening point is reached. Fleming was fond of this- the openings of CR and YOLT, for example, as well as Risico- and it's certainly not unique to him. Gardner's first Boysie Oakes novel opens in this way, too. In NSF, though, Gardner over-uses the technique to predictable levels; once or twice, perhaps, not a half-dozen or so.

The Diana, William, Harry angle does certainly put NSF firmly in its time, but Gardner is very clear again and again that the story is taking place in 1992 (or, as he writes dates, nineteen-ninety-two) and makes no bones about it.

M, Moneypenny, Tanner, Q'ute (  ajb007/insane  ) make their regulation appearances, some even turning up in the field as the movie characters do more than their literary counterparts . Only M has a fair-sized role, alternating between crusty and avuncular modes.

I enjoyed re-reading NSF, but my opinion of it hasn't changed- it ranks in the middle of Gardner's James Bond novels.

10 songs done for next CD- one more started, one being discarded.