The 10th novel in Ian Fleming’s Jame Bond series
Set apart from the other books in Ian Fleming’s James Bond series, The Spy Who Loved Me is told from the perspective of a femme fatale in the making––a victim of circumstance with a wounded heart.
Vivienne Michel, a precocious French Canadian raised in the United Kingdom, seems a foreigner in every land. With only a supercharged Vespa and a handful of American dollars, she travels down winding roads into the pine forests of the Adirondacks. After stopping at the Dreamy Pines Motor Court and being coerced into caretaking at the vacant motel for the night, Viv opens the door to two armed mobsters and realizes being a woman alone is no easy task. But when a third stranger shows—a confident Englishman with a keen sense for sizing things up—the tables are turned.
Still reeling in the wake of Operation Thunderball, Bond had planned for his jaunt through the Adirondacks to be a period of rest before his return to Europe. But that all changes when his tire goes flat in front of a certain motel…
My thoughts …
First comment … DO NOT judge the book by the movie. In fact, starting with Diamonds are Forever, the movies bear little if any resemblance to the books.
This was always one of my favorite James Bond stories, probably because it takes place in the Adirondack Park of upstate New York. My family has a history of tenting, hiking, and enjoying the Adirondack Park for generations. We own a camp close to Raquette Lake. Because of this, I can picture in my mind, the location and region in which this story is taking place.
The Spy Who Loved Me is the tenth novel in Ian Fleming’s James Bond series and was first published on April 16, 1962. I have a First Edition hardcover copy. It is the shortest and most sexually explicit of Fleming’s novels. It is also a clear departure from the well-established Bond formula because this story is told in the first person by a young Canadian woman, Vivienne Michel. Bond himself does not even make an appearance until perhaps two-thirds of the way into the book.
The story is essentially laid out in three parts
Her (Vivienne Michel)
Vivienne “Viv” Michel is a young Canadian woman who narrates her own story, detailing her past unsuccessful love affairs with two men who were simply out for a good time. In an attempt to restore some balance in her life, “Viv” decides to leave her native Canada and begin a journey through North America, during which she stops to work at “The Dreamy Pines Motor Court” in the Adirondack Mountains for managers Jed and Mildred Phancey.
Them (The Mob)
After the vacation season, Viv is entrusted with looking after the motel for the night until the owner, Mr. Sanguinetti, can arrive to take inventory and close it up for the winter. Two mobsters, both of whom work for Sanguinetti, arrive, claiming they are there to look over the motel for insurance purposes. These two, however, have been hired by Sanguinetti to perform a much more nefarious task. When Viv indicates she does not want to socialize with them, they attack her and it is clear she is in mortal peril. But just then, the door buzzer rings.
British secret service agent James Bond appears at the door asking for a room, having had a flat tire while passing. Bond quickly realizes that what is going on and that Viv is in danger. Pressuring the two men, he eventually gets the gangsters to agree to provide him a room.
Of course, after Bond saves the day, he rides off into the sunset, leaving Viv to reflect on what has happened as she motors off at the end of the book, continuing her tour of America, still devoted to the memory of the spy who loved her.
To sum it up …
While James Bond novels will never be considered literary classics, Ian Fleming’s character has lasted as an iconic hero for several generations to enjoy. While I really enjoyed the books so much more, the movies have entertained millions of people around the globe, and continue to do so today.
I give The Spy Who Loved Me 4 out of 5 Stars. If you are looking for a James Bond story without space stations, a man with metal teeth, underwater cities, or space-deployed EMP weapons, and a Bond story with a touch of romance in a picturesque setting, this one is for you.