The Spy Who Loved Me: James Bond, Book 10 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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When 007 turns up at a sleepy American backwoods motel, it doesn't take him long to realize that Vivienne Michel is in a tight spot, and that Sol Horror and Sluggsy Morant are hardened killers bent on destruction. Escaping from a past she doesn't want to relive, Viv turns to James Bond to save her.
This audiobook includes a bonus interview with Rosamund Pike.
Blackstone Audio, Inc. James Bond and 007 are registered trademarks of Danjaq LLC, used under license by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd
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|Listening Length||4 hours and 52 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||August 27, 2014|
|Publisher||Ian Fleming Ltd.|
|Best Sellers Rank||
#19,665 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals)
#250 in Espionage Thrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
#320 in Action Thriller & Suspense Fiction
#1,172 in Espionage Thrillers (Books)
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Top reviews from the United States
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The problem is a matter of perspective. Fleming’s view of a woman’s internal monologue is self serving and informs the wider misogyny that underlies his works. Vivian Michel confesses to the reader that all women prefer “semi-rape.” She deems it proper that a man she met a few moments prior should feel free to kiss her as they are being threatened by gangsters. After a horrifying trauma, she deems it appropriate to “reward” the “knight” for slaying the “dragon” with her body. The sum of this women is that she is a sexualized object whose value is measured by how much pleasure she can convey. Denial of these charms to the villains of the novel fires their anger. On the other hand, bestowing those charms to James Bond is seen as the climax of the story. Further, she is the ultimate sport as she decides to love our jetsetting spy with little chance of ever building a relationship.
As with most of the women in Bond novels, Michel is unreasonably beautiful. This beauty appears to be a license for sexual exploitation. I would be intrigued to see how hard Bond would fight if Michel looked like Rosa Kleb.
That wasn't Fleming. And in "The Spy Who Loved Me", he gives readers his most unusual take on the Bond mythos ever. I can respect that, even if I might prefer the more traditional stakes.
After just finishing rereading "Dr. No" and "From Russia with Love" I was ready for something different from Fleming, and this book certainly is that. The story is told with flashbacks from the perspective of the young French-Canadian woman Vivienne Michel. During the first part of the book Vivienne's character is well developed, with much more detail and nuance than for female characters in the other Bond books that I have read. I don't know whether a woman would find Vivienne's character credible, but I certainly did. In the middle of the book two gangsters show up at the deserted motel where Vivienne acts as temporary caretaker, and I found their characters to be completely credible and genuinely creepy. Up to this point the book is an excellent mystery of the "damsel-in-distress" type.
When James Bond shows up and the "action/adventure" portion of the book begins, I started to fell a little disappointed. The gunfight at the burning motel is stereotypic, and after the "bad guys" are suitably dispatched Bond and Vivienne head for the sack. Vivienne doesn't get the role of heroine here, but she does pretty well for someone who has been coshed earlier in the evening. Bond on the other hand is not at his best: why did he not think to have Sluggsy and Horror kneel before asking Vivienne to disarm them? Why did he ask her to move between him and the gangsters?
The contrast between how Vivienne and the other characters are handled highlighted a feature of the Bond books that I hadn't thought about when caught up in the action: Fleming's bad guys are a little cartoonish, sometimes resembling the villains that Dick Tracy had to contend with (e.g., Coffyhead, Flyface, Wormy Marron). Sluggsy and Horror are a little like that, but people like them still might plausibly jump out at you from a dark alley.
I was left wondering what would become of Vivienne. Was Bond really an improvement over Derek and Kurt? Is it her tragic flaw that she is doomed to a series of relationships with guys like that? The ending makes me wonder whether she will ever break out of this pattern.
Top reviews from other countries
This story simply, sadly, just reinforces Fleming's view of both the world and women. Through very small comments, the Germans are still the enemy, can't be trusted, and the main character suffers at the hands of men, develops independence, only to fall into James Bond's arms and surrender to him. Certain questionable lines, like the 'all women like semi-rape,' and the narrative about Viviene relaxing after her beating leave a disturbing insight into Ian Fleming's mind. He may well have been an influence on GRR Martin in this respect.
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The progression to 'Them' introduces the two bad guys. Although the character development falls away here, the air of menace is cultivated skilfully. The plot gets going too.
Then Bond appears in 'Him'. From there, there is plenty of action working to an exciting finale. Interestingly, one of those chapters is used for Bond to tell Viv of the mission he has just finished. That plot would make an excellent book in itself.
Overall, highly recommended and please do not let the fact that this book breaks the classic Bond mould deter you.
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.