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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 November 2012
From hearing the first words read by Rosamund Pike, I knew I could be nothing but delighted with this CD set. Her voice is deliciously deep, resonant, and of course beautifully feminine.

I already owned Casino Royal read by Dan Stevens, and Diamonds Are Forever read by Daimian Lewis in the same 007 Reloaded series from AudioGo, so it was an obvious choice to buy this one read by the actress who had played Miranda Frost in the film Die Another Day.

The film The Spy Who Loved Me bears no relation to the book, other than the title. Rather than beginning with Bond, this original story starts with a fascinating depiction of a young Canadian woman's recent experiences in London and the road trip she takes across America. This leads her to the Dreamy Pines Motor Court and into the clutches of two extremely sinister gangsters. Fleming treats us to the girl's intimate thoughts and feelings, and provides a fascinating depiction of American motels in the fifties. A thrilling story: exciting, sensuous and full of danger.

I enjoyed Ms Pike's reading much more than the other stories in this series read by male actors. She plays all the characters with skill and variety. Ms Pike is very accomplished and reads with great feeling and panache. Her comments at the end of the recording on her personal response to the story are both insightful and reflective.

Worth every penny - the best of Bond on CD!
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on 19 January 2014
Whilst Douglas Kennedy in his introduction has perhaps over-egged the suggestion that Ian Fleming had created a proto-feminist lead character in this book, it is far to say that Vivienne Michel is one of the author's more credible characters. I found this book really difficult to put down and , it must be said, this is one of Ian Fleming's better written efforts. It is also by far the more believable of all the efforts of his I have read. The book demonstrates Fleming's resourcefulness with this novel effectively being about a young Canadian woman who flees to America after some bitter experiences in London. The book is very much of it's time and ultimately , despite Vivienne's admirable independence that is outlined in the first half of the novel, she ends up succumbing to James Bond's charm. This first section of the novel reminded me a bit of Iain McEwan's "Sweet tooth."

Having set the scene, the main excitement in this book comes from Vivienne's encounter with two hoodlums who arrive at the motel she is minding. This section of the book is full of menace and her fate seems sealed until 007 arrives. I find Bond a curious character in Fleming's novels and he is effectively nothing like his portrayal in any of the films. "TSWLM" has the feel of a black and white "B" movie from the 1950's and the low-key nature of the story seems wholly credible until Bond's arrival. If there is a fault, Bond does seem the least credible of all the principle characters in this novel. For me, he is the weak link in this story. The account of his secret operation in Toronto seems ridiculous after the realistic violence that has occurred in the previous pages and there is absolutely no logic for his recounting this escapade to Viv. I did like the fact that you anticipate a thrilling encounter between the two gangsters and Bond and Fleming sets out the stalls so that you are anxious for Bond to come to the rescue. For once, the baddies are realistic and borrow more from film noire than the usual comic book pen portraits. The book is all the better for this.

"TSWLM" is a riveting read and although obviously not a book without faults, I feel that this effort is under-rated as it offers some of Fleming's best writing together with a story that is very believable. Much of the interest with the Bond books stem from the contrasts with the films. Generally, the "Connery" films seem to be more in keeping with the novels although I feel the alterations on the screen are generally to the benefit of the stories. Despite being one of Roger Moore's better outings as the secret agent, this novel has absolutely nothing to do with the film. It is a taut, pithy thriller and benefits from being told from the point of view of someone other than Bond. In fact, Bond only appears in the last third of the novel. Although slated by the critics at the time, Fleming was quite audacious in publishing this effort and his decision to override his initial reluctance to release this novel is justified. The Bond novels are a mixed bunch and even some of the better ones like "Dr No" can get a bit clunky. I feel this book offers quite an original spin on the world's most famous secret agent and providess a good contrast to "From Russia with love" and "On her majesty's secret service" which, for my money, are the best amongst the five I have read so far. This effort isn't far behind.
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This is quite unlike any other Bond book I have read. or a start it is written in the first person, from the perspective of Vivienne, a Canadian girl livening initially in London, but who embarks on a tour of North America. Bond plays only a fairly small part in the book, surprisingly so. Like most of Flemings writing it is quite decorative and lacks nothing in pace. It is quite surprising that Fleming, famed as a misogynist took on this book and it stands up really quote well and is far less patronising than one might have feared of expected. Well worth a read.
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on 12 September 2012
A little different from the run of the mill James Bond books. Exciting as always though. Bought for my Kindle as the original paperback, some 30 years old now, is getting rather fragile! If you are a James Bond fan, this is a 'must read'. James Evans
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on 30 June 2016
A complete change for Bond, who stumbles into the story - written from the heroine's perspective - almost half way through, but an enjoyable romp nonetheless.

His usual savour faire carries the day and his arrival acts as the catalyst for a story which rapidly develops into the dramatic action finish the build up deserved.

Very different, but enjoyable stuff.
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on 30 May 2016
Really enjoyed this one. I always avoided it during my youth as being a tad boring, it isn't. This is a perfect medium to enjoy the story Bond being an incidental character (but a pivotal one as he saves her life) in her story. It also reinforces the fact that two professional killers are more than a match for the real and very human James Bond.
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on 17 January 2002
This is the best Bond. Fleming was wrong to be embarassed with it. It is a masterpiece, very different, very refreshing. utterly compelling.
THis is my favourite of all the Bond novels. most of them i found okay reads, but didnt really understand what the fuss was all about. the films are far superior, usually.
But this one just blew me away. Fleming deviates from his formula, and writes the best novel of his career. UNfortunately, it is also the shortest.
The characters here are great, the two killers chiiling. Bond takes on a mythical quality (as a previous reviewer said) in the way he seems to come and go, rather in the manner of a fairy godmother. (although he himself would probably hate ever being assosciated with that phrase!)
The plot of this one is nicely simple, easy to get to grips with, and the writing is very good. I enjoyed this book most out of all the Bond i've read (i.e. all of them). This is a very, very, good, novel.
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on 30 January 2015
Not one of the better 'Bond' books by Ian Fleming..
He seemed to be experimenting with styles in this work and using a mix of first person writing (by the main character who this time is the 'Bond Girl') and general narrative for set piece descriptions. James Bond appears half way through the book and as if by accident is worked into the story. If it was written now it would almost be classed a 'chick lit' modern teenagers fantasy. I.E. Girl grows up, has a right of passage, goes travelling in North America on a Vespa motor scooter. Gets into difficulties with the 'baddies' and is rescued by a passing hero. Brief love affair then both go their separate ways.older and wiser. Read it for your Bond collection but don't expect too much.. .
PS, never trust a cad who wants to make love in a cinema and also the cinema manager tends to throw you out.....
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on 13 May 2015
Published in 1962 The Spy Who Loved Me is the ninth book in the original James Bond series. It is a short and explicit experimental novel by Ian Fleming. Its somewhat of a disappointment when compared to other books in the series. If you picked up The Spy Who Loved Me expecting Bond to be the central focus of the story you’d be disappointed. You would probably never read another Bond book again.

The story is a first person tale narrated by a young Canadian woman, Viv Michel. It charts her life story and upbringing and eventual arrival at a motel. Gangsters then arrive, threaten her, then Bond shows up and saves the day.

Apart from Bond being missing for much of the book the other problem is the cartoonish gangsters, Horror and Sluggsy. These characters are more like henchmen as opposed to true villains. There is also no espionage as the only crimes they want to commit are insurance fraud and arson. So, in most respects The Spy Who Loved Me is more like a noir crime novel in which Bond makes an appearance.

It’s good that Fleming tried something new with a familiar character despite holding misogynistic attitudes. He doesn't do too bad a job avoiding making Viv a completely useless damsel in distress. Her character is less patronising then I would have expected. But her purpose is to wait for the hero (Bond) to show up, rescue her and then fall in love with.

So in summary, if you’re a Bond fan its worth reading The Spy Who Loved Me for completeness. Cast aside any notions of evil scoundrels with plans for world domination first. Read the book without any preconceptions. If you do this then you’ll find the book moderately entertaining, written with a degree of pace and style.
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on 2 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.
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