Ian Fleming – The Spy Who Loved Me

Like Moonraker the James Bond-novel The Spy Who Loved Me (1962) is one of the two novels who have not be adapted as the movie we know them. Even as Moonraker still have a some minor elements that were used in the movie this is not the case for The Spy Who Loved Me. It is rather so that the novel is pretty much impossible to adapt as Ian Fleming diverts from his successful concept and returns to experiment.

For in this case the novel is told solely from the viewpoint of the proverbial Bondgirl and even from a first person point of view. It even takes a while before James Bond turns up as Fleming takes his time to tell the background of the girl and put her in the necessary setting. It is strange, but also quite interesting. In earlier books Fleming had also used other characters to tell parts of the story to provide a larger perspective and to also enjoy himself telling exciting parts of the story that Bond took no part in. With the viewpoint he chose here the view is much narrower so he compensates by expanding it with more digressions. However, this does not work very well for the story although they provide an interesting read.

As the story is told from a female’s view Fleming has to change his style and use much less of his typical strong prose and addition of details. Alas he did not succeed completely. Yes he does manage a fairly acceptable to present a female view. His prose however is still a bit too sturdy and male in character.

The story itself gets interesting when the bad guys pop up and later on James Bond. Until then the story is a nice sketch and view of the early sixties where the story provides some drama which did not really catch on. It is in the second part that we get the James Bond feeling again and Fleming manages to serve, but the plot is too simple and short to move beyond a secondary plot within the usually larger story.

The Spy Who Loved Me is an interesting experiment as it uses a bondgirl perspective, but the plot only provides a short ride which does not serve to make the story a great James Bond tale. It is a side-story which might have worked better as a short story. Now it feels like an extended one where too little excitement really happens. As such it would have been much better, I think. Now it not the least of the James Bond novels, but still in the lesser category. Still I can recommend it just because of the experiment of Fleming to change his style and the point of view.

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