Phil's Reviews > The Spy Who Loved Me

The Spy Who Loved Me by Ian Fleming
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Jul 10, 12

Read from July 09 to 10, 2012

At this point in the series, Ian Fleming is on a rich vein of form - For Your Eyes Only, then Thunderball and now this ... (and OHMSS has started off very well too).

I have to say though, this book swerved from being my least favourite Bond novel at about the halfway point, to my most favourite by two thirds through. I don't understand quite why that happened. It's very ... *very* different from every other in the series. It reminds me of a serious version of the Austin Powers idea of taking the baddie's henchmen that Powers kills and giving them a backstory that gives them flesh and blood and a rationale and sympathy from the audience, before Powers drives by and shoots them in cold blood while trying to escape. This tale is told entirely from the point of view of a "Bond Girl" very innocently caught up in a mob-driven plot to burn down a motel as an insurance scam. Even Bond appears purely as a coincidence to rescue her simply because his car had a puncture on the way back from catching a SPECTRE bad-guy in Canada.

In the first part, I found the book perplexing - why were we being introduced to this girl, why was Fleming giving her such a disappointing series of sexual encounters and then leaves her in a storm alone in a motel in the Adirondack mountains. In part two, I hated Fleming for putting her through a series of distressingly sexual abuses (stopping short of her being raped ... but only just).

And then .... and then Bond arrives ... and it all made sense. This is the reason women fall for Bond - normally we see the women appear halfway through Bond's adventure, but Bond appearing (literally) from nowhere halfway through her's, saving her life in a dashing, brave, devil may care way, the same cruel disregard for life as her attackers, but on her side ... the yank of the change of perspective from the other books, is almost breathtaking and I was very impressed.

This was a very brave novel to give to his audience - an audience that just really wanted more of the same - and I'm not sure that its effect would be as emphatic had I not read all the other novels in sequence in such short order. Also, I'm not sure Fleming is a good enough writer to write successfully a whole novel from the perspective of a 23 year old French Canadian girl - certainly lots of the description could well have come from the mouth of Bond in other novels. But it's been a long time since I changed my point of view of a book so thoroughly in such a short sequence of pages, and for that I have to applaud Fleming.
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