The Spy Who Loved Me - Audio Book
'The spy who loved me was called
James Bond, and the night on which he loved me was a night of screaming
terror. This is the story of who I am and how I came through a
nightmare of torture and the threat of death to a dawn of ecstasy...'
A Bond audio book from 2012,
read by Rosamund Pike. The Spy Who Loved Me was the tenth Bond novel by
Ian Fleming and published in 1962. Fleming didn't care much for it
himself and gave instructions that only the title was to be used in any
film version and - generally - The Spy Who Loved Me is not regarded to
be one of the best books in the series. It does have fans though and
the rather polarising nature is probably best explained by this being a
different type of Bond book that found Fleming in experimental mood.
In The Spy Who Loved Me, Fleming
departs from his usual structure and the story is told first person by
his heroine Vivienne Michel. Vivienne is a French-Canadian on the run
from an unhappy and complicated past who ends up at a lonely job at the
Dreamy Pines Motor Court, a motel in the remote Adirondacks. While a
storm rattles outside, Vivienne has to close the motel down and look
after the place but she ends up in big trouble when a pair of criminals
named Sol 'Horror' Horowitz and Sluggsy Morant turn up with orders by
their boss Mr Sanguinetti to burn the place down for insurance purposes.
Vivienne is beaten and held
hostage and things look rather bleak. Until that is a mysterious man
with a flat tyre on his car suddenly turns up at the motel. His name is
The difference between this and
the other Bond audio books is that this story - as told from a female
perspective - is a chance for an actress to boot Simon Vance or Rufus
Sewell into touch and narrate a Bond novel for a change. Rosamund Pike
proves to be a fine choice and throws herself into the task. Her voice
is suited for the confessional nature of the character and she's good
too when she has to do Bond and all the villains. If they ever bring
back Jackanory, Pike would be a good person to hire.
Bond only appears in the book
for the third act. The first 50 or so pages of The Spy Who Loved Me
consist of Vivienne reflecting on her tangled life and ups and downs.
The second act has the arrival of the villains before 007 enters the
fray for the final act. The first act is not Fleming on the firmest
footing but it works well being read to you by Pike and you at least
admire the author for trying something new and taking himself out of
his third person narrative/megalomaniac holds the world to nuclear
ransom comfort zone.
When he wrote the book Fleming
was apparently becoming slightly tired of churning out Bond novels and
wanted to tinker with his formula. Fleming didn't like the idea that
the Bond books were seen merely as entertaining pot boiler thrillers
and was seeking a bit more critical recognition for his literary
It takes quite a while for
anything of note to happen in the story but there is tension generated
when the villains show up and Bond arrives. The backstory of Vivienne
does flesh her out as a character and make us feel like we know her
quite well. Even by Fleming standards, this entry is quite sadistic at
times with Vivienne taking a battering from Sol and Sluggsy.
I think The Spy Who Loved Me
often works better than other famous 007 works as an audio book because
there less distracting diversions. You don't have an uneccesary passage
about the history of marmalade or something as Fleming was prone to do.
The atmosphere of the novel - remote mountainous location, the
telephone is out, wild storm etc - is great for an audio adaption and
These are not your typical Bond
villains but nasty all the same and somewhat grotesque in the Fleming
fashion. Sluggsy has an absence of hair anywhere on his body and very
bloodshot eyes and Sol 'Horror' has steel-capped teeth (clearly the
inspiration for 'Jaws' in the completely different film version).
'There was the touch of a
slightly damp hand. "Ferry pleased to meet you", said in an
ingratiating voice and Bond looked into a pale round unhealthy face now
split in a stage smile which died almost as Bond noticed it. Bond
looked into his eye. They were like two restless black buttons and they
twisted away from Bond's gaze.'
The story does have a great
moment when 007 (who is returning from a mission and has stopped here
by accident with a flat tyre) is asked 'Hey, limey. What's your name?'
by one of these unhinged characters. 'Bond, James Bond,' comes the
The thing that makes this moment
enjoyable is our knowledge of James Bond and what he does for a living.
Sol and Sluggsy think this is some sap who has broken down and can be
bumped off easily. One nice touch in the story is that Bond talks about
his last mission. This was a mission to capture a SPECTRE agent and
involved no small degree of cunning.
This is a nice adaptation on the
whole and the fact that we are viewing Bond here through somebody
else's eyes rather than Fleming's third person narrative is effective,
making him seem like more of a mythic character. Stay tuned after too
for some extra thoughts from Pike on the story and how it affected her.