The Spy Who Loved Me
Vivienne Michel is in trouble. Trying to escape her tangled past, she has run away to the American backwoods, winding up at the Dreamy Pines Motor Court. A far cry from the privileged world she was born to, the motel is also the destination of two hardened killers - the perverse Sol Horror and the deadly Sluggsy Morant. When a coolly charismatic Englishman turns up, Viv, in terrible danger, is not just hopeful, but fascinated.
Reviewed on 2nd March 2012
The first thing to know about The Spy Who Loved Me is that it is not a typical James Bond adventure by any stretch. This is the story of Viv Michel, a Canadian working in an American motel when gangsters descend. It's a very personal, almost coming-of-age, tale, told in the first-person.
It feels much more akin to the short stories of For Your Eyes Only than the other full novels in Fleming's Bond series, and is short enough that I read it through in a single day. The style though is very Fleming and Michel is just as opinionated as the Bond character in other stories. It's certainly one of the most believable stories in the set and most of the emotion is put across with a gripping realism.
It's quite a graphic novel, probably due to the nature of the narrative, and includes some of the most graphic sexual scenes of the Bond novels as Michel recounts her short personal history in the first third of the text. I wonder how shocking some of this might have been in the sixties when the book was first published.
Yes, it is very different from the usual Bond story, but it just shows the breadth of Fleming's writing ability was not limited just to thrillers. It's not an adventure, but knowing that before reading it (after all, I have read it before) I think I appreciated it more than the previous few stories in the series.