So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Spy Who Loved Me. Ian Fleming

The Spy Who Loved Me is the 11th of thirteen James Bond novels Ian Fleming wrote before he died in 1965. It is only the second I have read. I am amazed at how little the book resembles the movie.

Fleming tells it from the point of view of the woman in the story. She is Vivienne Michel, a 23 year old Québécois Canadian, who, to get over two failed attempts at romance, has started out on an adventure to go to Florida on her Vespa. She only gets to Lake George, New York when she is offered a job at the motel she is staying at for the last 2 weeks it is open by the strange couple who manage it. They leave her to close up the last day and say the owner will come the next day to pay her and lock up for the winter. After they leave a fierce thunderstorm sets the mood for this young girl alone in a motel on a dirt road miles from the main road. She takes a couple of chapters to reminisce her sad lost loves in which we learn that she has trouble descriminating between love and physical desire, a trait the men she has met have taken advantage of.

Suddenly there is a knock on the door and two thugs who say they were sent by the owner to do inventory start threatening her. She is pretty scrappy but ineffectual in her attempts to hold them off. Things are just about to get really nasty when there is another knock at the door. Who should be looking for a room at such a time in such a storm and at such an out of the way location? Why, it's James Bond.

Her description of Bond is: "He was about six feet tall, slim and fit-looking. The eyes in the lean, slightly tanned face were a very clear gray-blue and as they observed the men they were cold and watchful. The narrowed watchful eyes gave his good looks the dangerous, almost cruel quality that had frightened me when I first set eyes on him, but now that I knew how he could smile, I thought his face only exciting, in a way that no man's face had ever excited me before."

This is probably the only time Ian Fleming tried to write from the female point of view. He appears to believe women are masochistic in their love for Bond. The author tries to soften the image by having her say Bond's "almost" cruel looks excited her. Later on she says: "All women love semi-rape. They love to be taken. It was his sweet brutality against my bruised body that had made his act of love so piercingly wonderful." Again Fleming attempts to soften her language by saying "semi"-rape and "sweet" brutality. Yet it is his cruelty, brutality and rape that turns her on.

To find out what the two thugs were sent to do and how Bond saves and beds the heroine read The Spy Who Loved Me. Only don't expect to find SPECTRE, SMURCH, "Q" or other Bondian characteristics that the movies have caricaturized him with because you will be disappointed. As a early 1960's thriller this will please, but a 007 blockbuster it is not.


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