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Vivienne Michel
Character from the James Bond franchise
Affiliation none
Portrayed by none

Vivienne "Viv" Michel is the main fictional character in Ian Fleming's James Bond novel The Spy Who Loved Me. She has not appeared as a character in a James Bond film, and never will as Danjaq, the copyright holder to the characters, elements, and other material related to James Bond on screen agreed never to use the novel as the basis for a film (only the title).

Viv is the only Bond girl to tell her story in her own words, and the only character in the Fleming canon to have written a first-person account of one of Bond's adventures. The novel purports to be a manuscript written by Vivienne and delivered to Fleming for publication. As a result, the fictional Michel receives co-author credit on Fleming's novel. She is, therefore, a pseudonym of Fleming's in addition to being a character.

Novel biography

At the time she meets Bond, Viv is 23 years old. She is originally from near Quebec, but at the age of 16 is sent by her aunt to a finishing school in England, where a year later she meets a young man named Derek Mallaby, losing her virginity to him before he brushes her off. She eventually becomes an editorial assistant in London, for a news agency based in West Germany, becoming romantically and sexually involved with her German supervisor, Kurt Rainer. Rainer puts her in touch with a gynecologist who prescribes birth control for Viv, but these precautions fail and Viv becomes pregnant. Rainer, too, dumps her. Viv flies to Zurich at Rainer's expense where she has an abortion, and then, to forget the past, she returns to North America and begins a long tour down the east coast on a Vespa motor scooter.

As the novel begins, she has taken a job closing up an isolated and struggling seasonal motel in the country near Lake George. The night before she is to finish closing, two men posing as insurance representatives appear; once she lets them in, they effectively take her hostage, abusing her when she shows resistance. Then James Bond, traveling by car from Albany to Washington, arrives to claim a room, having suffered a flat tire a mile away from the motel. Upon opening the door, Viv is struck by his deadly quality and thinks to herself "Oh, God, it's another of them." But she soon realizes that Bond is some sort of government agent.

Bond identifies the two intruders as probable former convicts and sets about protecting Viv. During the night, the convicts set fire to the motel, and it becomes clear that the arson--and Viv's planned death--are to be part of an insurance scam. Bond battles the thugs while simultaneously trying to defend Viv. Having presumably killed both criminals, he retires to one of the remaining undamaged motel cabins, and Viv chooses to stay with him rather than have her own cabin.

Viv provides a self-deprecating description of herself as an attractive woman, with a height of 5'6", dark brown and naturally wavy hair, blue eyes, a generous figure, a small nose, and a wide mouth that makes her look sexy even when she doesn't wish to. Bond obviously finds her attractive, showering with her and then having sex with her.

Although Bond is famous for his sexual exploits (among other things), Fleming actually provides almost no detail of lovemaking in his novels. The accounts by Viv, in a chapter entitled "Bimbo," are nearly the only ones, and they reveal a good bit about Fleming's and his generations' views of gender relations. The first account is limited to the general statements that Bond's lovemaking is "slow and electric" and "tenderly fierce," that Bond is on top, and that Viv has an orgasm. Afterwards, however, she reflects that "all women love semi-rape," which she explains is why she found the "sweet brutality" of Bond's lovemaking so exciting. She understands that Bond has claimed her as a sort of reward for rescuing her; she accepts that and decides that she will not pursue him or make more of the relationship than it was. Later, the couple are awakened from sleep by the sound of crashing glass; one of the thugs, badly wounded, has managed to escape from his wrecked car and drag himself to the cabin window, through which he aims a gun at Bond and Viv's bed. Viv, awakening, screams. Awakened by the scream and the smashing glass, Bond shoots and kills the thug. Bond and Viv then have sex again; this time, Viv describes Bond as making love to her "fiercely, almost cruelly," in a side-by-side position, with her again having an orgasm.

When Viv awakens, Bond has gone, having written her a long note written "with a real pen and not a ball point" (presumably meaning a fountain pen). In it Bond tells her that he has left to contact the police; he advises her to try not to have nightmares about the terrible experiences she had just lived through ("These sort of things don't often happen. Treat it all as just a bad motor accident you were lucky to get out of.") He closes with telling her how she may get in touch with him if she ever needs him, but he clearly does not intend it as an invitation to continue their relationship, and Viv does not take it as such. A fatherly police captain, perceiving that Viv has had sex with Bond, gently warns her to "Keep away from all these men. They are not for you, whether they're called James Bond or Sluggsy Morant [one of the two thugs]." Upon hearing this warning, Viv recalls her first reaction upon seeing Bond, but she also recalls the sweetness of their lovemaking. "The scars of my terror," she writes at the conclusion of the book, "had been healed, wiped away, by this stranger who slept with a gun under his pillow, this secret agent who was only known by a number." Told that she would likely receive a reward from the insurance company for helping to frustrate the arsonists' plans, Viv resumes her trek down the coast, Bond's rescue of her "written on [her] heart forever."

Viv possesses some unusual aspects for a Bond Girl; having a rather ordinary name, unlike most other Bond Girls, she is also one of the few Bond Girls not to be somehow involved in intelligence affairs or criminal enterprises. As such, she is a type of average citizen with whom the reader can identify, who is thrust into the dramatically different world of James Bond and his enemies. On the other hand, she is clearly not the "girl next door" of the mid-twentieth century, given her sexual experience and her abortion. Nevertheless, her character and the fact that she narrates her involvement with Bond make her story one of the most striking of the Bond canon.

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