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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 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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on 31 January 2016
i really didn't enjoy this...... i'm not a massive james bond fan though, but this particularly had next to no plot!
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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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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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Imagine being alone, totally alone, in a remote location during a storm, when all of a sudden, cold, merciless, danger, comes-a-knocking at your door.
This is the situation facing Vivienne Michel, a lovely French-Canadian motel receptionist at the Dreamy Pines Motor Court in upstate New York when she is paid a visit by danger in the shape of two loathesome gangsters. In 'Horror' Horowitz and 'Sluggsy' Morant, Fleming conjures up two of his more hideously thuggish creations in this gem of a tale.
The plot of this novel is basically one of a 'damsel in distress' as Vivienne, who narrates the story throughout, has to confront her worst
nightmares in the shape of the motel owners bully boys who, for some reason, seem determined to hurt her and then kill her. The 'knight in shining armour' is of course, 'you know who,' who doesn't actually show up until two-thirds of the way through the book. However when Vivienne rather fearfully opens the door to be confronted by a man who was, 'good-looking, in a dark, rather cruel way...' We know that our hero has arrived.
This is a Bond novel totally unlike any other I have ever read. It is not concerned with espionage (although Bond does tend to let his mouth run away with itself when explaining how he turned up at the motel), it does not pit Bond against some fiendish mastermind, it is not set in a glamorous location (an upstate New York forest ?) and it does not involve a female noted for looking after herself. But despite all this, it is a glorious examination of fear, and of how love can grow because of that fear. It is also compelling !

Indeed we learn a lot about Vivienne Michel. The first half of the book is mostly concerned with her life-story of broken hearts and shattered dreams. Her vulnerability, honesty and determination to stand up for herself make her
one of the most endearing of female characters seen in a Bond novel. No streefighters instinct like Pussy Galore, no self-assured confidence like
Domino Vitali, this lady is bruised, frightened and in need of a friend.
Bond is his usual, composed and confident self. His quick appraisal of Vivienne's situation is all he needs to start formulating a plan to rescue this lady from the dragons lair. However, we also see an uncharacterstic sloppiness from Bond too. He doesn't slip up once, but twice, the second mistake is so glaring that any Bond fan, familiar with Bond's usual thoroughness, would be puzzled as to why he didn't take basic precautions to prevent disaster. 'M' would have been appalled at some of his amateurish mistakes.
This book incidentally has no similarity whatever to the film of the same name. The two are completely different animals. In fairness it would be hard to make this book into a film, but it would make a truly compelling one hour TV special.
If I had to change one thing it would be the ending of the book. A little too long is spent listening to Captain Stonors homespun philosophy on 'friends' and 'enemies' for my liking, although Fleming is merely trying to show the depth of Vivienne's feelings for Bond. In fact, Fleming in this book demonstrates (especially in his detailing in the first person Vivienne's life
prior to 'Them') his ability to think and feel like a woman. The early part of the novel is essentially a work of romantic fiction, with Vivienne's loves and heartbreaks detailed in a very sensitive and basically 'feminine' way. We already knew that Fleming was an accomplished author of the ultimate mans novel, but here
he demonstrates his grasp of the world viewed through a woman's eyes as well. Remarkable !
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on 4 September 2013
Never having read the original Bond stories, I came to these CDs knowing that they would undoubtedly be different to the film versions. And boy, was I proved right.

Some stories are by and large the same as you know on screen. This, however, is totally different. For a start, much of the story is told from the protagonist's perspective and Bond doesn't appear until around half way through. In reality, this bears zero resemblance to the film version, so if that's all you know then this is a brand new Bond story, which is great.

Rosamund Pike reads the tale in a gorgeous accent and you learn about how her life and travels bring her to a not-so-sleepy motel in the middle of America. Don't expect Roger Moore either. This is Bond the hard man, a WWII veteran, killer and no taker of any nonsense.

Is there a downside? Well in retrospect the gangsters do seem horribly cliched stereotypical 50s hoods. Then again, when this was written, for all I know it could be very accurate. The abiding memory I hold is Rosamund Pike's honeyed delivery. Lovely.
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on 27 April 2010
As this is one of the later books in the series, I found this to be an interesting take on Bond. It is the only book written in the first person from the perspective of another character; the heroine. Bond doesn't even appear until we are well in to the story. The heroine's character had enough to keep me interested and I was waiting to see how Bond would fit in to the dynamic of the story as it unfolded. The end of the story is also a novel one as a character previously unseen and unheard gives an assessment about the type of man that Bond probably is.

I have read that Fleming wasn't happy with this story. Whether that is because of the reaction to it (which was negative), or because he was genuinely unhappy with what he produced is hard to say. Either way it is not the best in the series. There are some holes and times it does have a rushed feel to it. But approach it as something a bit different to the other Bond books and you'll be satisfied with the result.
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on 23 June 2013
A great idea that works brilliantly. When I first read all 14 books in the series, this one stood out. You really get inside this novel, you feel like a fly on the wall observing the story. Bond is a peripheral character but the way the story develops makes you want him to appear sooner to save the day, and the beautiful Vivienne Michel. The other thing that struck me about this novel is Bond comes across as a much colder, more sinister character than in the other novels. If you didn't know he was working for 'The Good side' , it would be easy ti believe he was one of the bad guys. But that cold persona only makes him more mysterious.

Keep am open mind and read this book. It's my personal favourite.
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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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