My James Bond Challenge continues with The Spy Who Loved Me, the tenth Bond book written by Ian Fleming, published in 1962.

As ever, my book review style is just a brain dump of my thoughts and comments whilst going through the book.

  • Hilarious opening intro by Fleming, pretending that the woman in the book actually sent him a manuscript with this story, thereby insinuating that Bond is a real person too. I wonder if this was totally tongue in cheek by Fleming.
  • I like the structure of the book, split into Me, Them and Him
  • p15 – So motels had a bad, seedy reputation even in the early 60s.
  • p17 – I love that the game Sardines is mentioned. Sardines is a game my extended family plays but I get the impression that not everyone knows it. I was beginning to think it was just my family that knew it! So it’s very interesting that it’s mentioned here.
  • The first half of this book has no Bond and is all about a young girl losing her virginity and her sexual experiences.
  • p96 – Bond says that it’s only pro killers that don’t smoke and drink. Does that mean Bond is an amateur?!
  • p100 – I’m surprised how much Bond is telling the girl about top secret stuff.
  • p103 – Bond is on Benzedrine again!
  • p104 – Nice chapter title. ‘To sleep, perchance to die!’
  • p109 – “…as sleep held our her hands to me…” I liked that. Fleming does that a lot. Maybe it’s called personification of non-human objects/entities or something like that, but I like it anyway.
  • p116 – Great first paragraph here about death-thoughts and wavelengths of consciousness.
  • p121 – The “Don’t be silly” line is hilarious. Hugely abrupt by Bond! “I want you somewhere where you can help but where I don’t have to worry about you. Otherwise, if I know these men, they’ll concentrate on you and guess that I’ll do anything, even let them get away rather than let you get hurt.” Then she says, “Is that true?” and Bond replies, “Don’t be silly.”
  • p127 – “I’m sorry, Viv. It’s not my fault. It’s my hands. They can’t stay away from you.” I’m not sure that would stand up in a court of law, James. I think the word ‘consent’ doesn’t hold as much weight back in the 50s and early 60s. But just wait until the line on the next page…
  • p128 – ‘All women love semi-rape. They love to be taken.’ Hmm. That word ‘semi’ is a very grey area.
  • p141 – I like the Captain’s after-care of the victim.

Fleming is obviously experimenting here. Trying something a bit different. On one hand I respect his ability to change things up, and I also very much enjoyed the different perspective, having the story told through the viewpoint of another character, rather than via the narrator and Bond’s own thoughts. It had a very interesting second-half, seeing how Bond handles a situation like that when it wasn’t part of his normal mission. But I feel it should have been a short story, like ones in For Your Eyes Only. The first half of the book was a bit boring. This one is only going to get 5/10. It was very nearly a 4, but I enjoyed the final third enough to save it that extra point. Still gets a pass mark, just.

Current ranking and scoring out of 10
Moonraker – 9
Dr. No – 9
From Russia, with Love – 9
Casino Royale – 8.5
Goldfinger – 7.5
For Your Eyes Only – 7.5
Live and Let Die – 7
Diamonds are Forever – 6.5
Thunderball – 6
The Spy Who Loved Me – 5