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The Spy Who Loved Me  
First edition cover published by Jonathan Cape
Author Ian Fleming
Cover artist Richard Chopping (Jonathan Cape ed.)
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series James Bond
Genre(s) Spy novel
Publisher Jonathan Cape
Publication date 16 April 1962
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages 198
Preceded by Thunderball
Followed by On Her Majesty's Secret Service

The Spy Who Loved Me is the tenth novel in Ian Fleming's James Bond series first published by Jonathan Cape on 16 April 1962. It is the shortest and most sexually explicit of Fleming's novels as well as a clear departure from previous Bond novels in that the story is told in the first person by the young woman Vivienne Michel. James Bond himself does not appear until two thirds of the way through the book (chapter 10) and is gone again by the start of the final chapter 15. In order to maintain the conceit of the book's central character Vivienne Michel (and as some critics suggest distance himself from a book with which he was dissatisfied), Fleming wrote a prologue (which appears in some, but not all, editions of the novel) giving Michel credit as a co-author.

I found what follows lying on my desk one morning. As you will see, it appears to be the first person story of a young woman, evidently beautiful and not unskilled in the arts of love. According to her story, she appears to have been involved, both perilously and romantically, with the same James Bond whose secret service exploits I myself have written from time to time. With the manuscript was a note signed 'Vivienne Michel' assuring me that what she had written was 'purest truth and from the depths of her heart'. I was interested in this view of James Bond, through the wrong end of the telescope so to speak, and after obtaining clearance for certain minor infringements of the Official Secrets Act I have much pleasure in sponsoring its publication.

Due to the reactions by critics and fans, Fleming was not happy with the book and consequently only gave permission for the title to be used when he sold the film rights to Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli. He also successfully prevented a paperback edition of the book from being published in Britain (although one was still issued in the United States); the first UK paperback edition appeared in 1967, three years after his death. In 1977 the title was used for the tenth film in the EON Productions series. It was the third to star Roger Moore as British Secret Service agent, Commander James Bond. Per Fleming's wish the only elements from the novel that are used in the film are the character of James Bond (along with his MI6 associates) and the title. The story, all locations and all other characters are different, though the mobster henchmen, "Sluggsy" (a short, stocky, thug with a disease that prevents hair growth) and "Horror" a tall, gaunt thug with steel capped teeth) serve as inspiration for the movie henchmen "Sandor" (a short, stocky, bald thug) and "Jaws" (a giant, super strong thug with steel teeth). The metal teeth, especially, were thought quirky enough to be worth keeping by film producer Cubby Broccoli. Some elements from the book were used in other films, as well. For example, in Dr. No, Bond uses a pillow trick to make it appear he is asleep. The film was novelised the same year by screenwriter Christopher Wood and the resulting book was the first novelisation of a Bond film. To avoid confusion with Fleming's novel, the book was named James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me.

Fleming's novel is considered an interlude novel in what is known as the "Blofeld Trilogy." This novel is generally not considered part of the story arc that includes the previous novel, Thunderball and succeeding books On Her Majesty's Secret Service and You Only Live Twice, although it clearly takes place after Thunderball and does make references to its adventure. Bond's appearance in the story also apparently comes in the wake of a mission involving SPECTRE.


Plot summary

The central character and narrator of The Spy Who Loved Me is Vivienne "Viv" Michel, a young Canadian woman who ends up running a cheap motel in the Adirondack Mountains to pay for a trip through America. The novel is broken up into three parts: 'Me', 'Them', and 'Him'.

The first section of the book deals with Viv's past love affairs, the first being with Derek Mallaby, who took her virginity in a field after being kicked out of a cinema for indecent exposure. Their physical relationship ended that night and Viv was subsequently dumped later when Mallaby sent her a letter from the University of Oxford saying he was forcibly engaged to someone else by his parents. Viv details her second love affair with her German boss, Kurt Rainer, who would eventually get Viv pregnant. After she learned of her pregnancy and informed Rainer, he dumped her and paid for her to go to Switzerland to have an abortion.

The second section of the book details Viv's return to her native Canada, her plans to journey through America, and how she came to work at "The Dreamy Pines Motor Court" in the Adirondack Mountains for managers Jed and Mildred Phancey. At the end of the vacation season, the Phanceys entrust Viv to look after the motel for the night before the owner, Mr. Sanguinetti, can arrive to take inventory and shutter it up for the winter. However, two mobsters, "Sluggsy" Morant and Sol "Horror" Horowitz, show up under the guise of working for Mr. Sanguinetti and say they are there to look over the motel for insurance purposes. In truth, the two have been hired by Mr. Sanguinetti to burn down The Dreamy Pines Motor Court so that Mr. Sanguinetti can make a profit on the insurance. The blame for the fire would fall on Viv, who was to perish in the fire. The mobsters, specifically "Sluggsy", are very cruel to Viv, beating her when she attempts to escape and threatening to rape her if she doesn't cooperate.

The two mobsters are stopped from raping Viv at the very end of the second section of the book when the door buzzer sounds. The third section of the book opens with British secret service agent James Bond appearing at the door asking for a room, having had a flat tire while passing by. Clued in by Viv, Bond quickly realizes that Horror and Sluggsy are mobsters. Pressuring the two men, he eventually gets the gangsters to agree to provide him a room. As a means of passing the time, Bond then tells Viv why he is in America. He recounts that in the wake of Operation Thunderball, which Viv recalls reading about in the newspapers, SPECTRE was engaged by the Soviet Union to assassinate a Russian nuclear expert who came over to the Allied side and now lives in Toronto. Bond was detailed to protect the engineer as part of his quest to ferret out SPECTRE's boss, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, as SPECTRE was hired to murder the Russian expert by the Russian government.

After recounting this story, through a series of Bondian events, he protects Viv through the night as Sluggsy and Horror set fire to the motel and attempt to kill Bond and Michel. Ultimately Bond kills Horror and then Sluggsy in two separate gun battles, and ends up sleeping with Viv.

When Viv awakens Bond has left, but he has left a note in which he promises to send her police assistance, and which he concludes by telling her not to dwell too much on the ugly events through which she has just lived. As Viv finishes reading the note, a large police detachment arrives. After taking her statement, the officer in charge of the detail, a rather fatherly man, reiterates Bond's advice, but also warns Viv that all men involved in violent crime and espionage, regardless of which side they are on - including Bond himself - are dangerous and that Viv should avoid them. Viv reflects on this fact as she motors off at the end of the book, continuing her tour of America, but despite the officer's warning still devoted to the memory of the spy who had loved her.


  • Vivienne Michel
  • James Bond
  • Sol "Horror" Horowitz
  • "Sluggsy" Morant
  • Derek Mallaby
  • Kurt Rainer
  • Jed and Mildred Phancey
  • Mr. Sanguinetti

Publication history

In the United States a condensed version of the novel was published in the men's magazine Stag under the title, "Motel Nymph".

  • April 16, 1962, Jonathan Cape, hardcover, first British edition.
  • 1962, Viking Press, hardcover, first American edition.
  • April 1963, Signet, paperback, first American edition.
  • 1967, Pan Books, paperback, first British edition.
  • August 1980, Triad/Granda, paperback, British, ISBN 0-586-05102-3
  • July 1982, Berkley Books, paperback, American, SBN 0-425-06399-2
  • June 1989, Coronet Books, paperback, British, ISBN 0-340-42569-5. Introduction by Anthony Burgess.
  • April 4, 2002, Penguin Books, paperback, British, ISBN 0-670-91047-3
  • September 2003, Penguin Books, paperback, American, ISBN 0-14-200326-3
  • October 26, 2006, Penguin Books, paperback, British, ISBN 0-14-102822-X . Introduction by Nick Stone.

Comic strip adaptation

Fleming's original novel was adapted as a daily comic strip which was published in the British Daily Express newspaper and syndicated around the world. The adaptation ran from December 18, 1967 to October 3, 1968. The adaptation was written by Jim Lawrence and illustrated by Yaroslav Horak. It was the last Ian Fleming work to be adapted as a comic strip, although the comic strip took great liberties with Fleming's novel, substituting a SPECTRE-related storyline involving Bond for the novel's autobiographical chapters involving Vivienne; the actual adaptation of the novel doesn't begin until the 2/3 point of the strip. The strip was reprinted by Titan Books in the early 1990s and again in 2004.



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