|Cover by Richard Chopping|
Ian Fleming took a leap with his ninth novel The Spy Who Loved Me (1962) by telling the story in first person, not by James Bond, but by Vivienne Michel a young Canadian woman touring America. It was shortest novel Fleming wrote that apparently was highly sexually explicit; the book tells the story of Viv’s love affairs, including her encounter with Bond in the latter part of the book.
The book received the most negative reviews from critics and fans of any of his books. As a result, Fleming did everything he could to suppress the novel. For example, he blocked the release of a paperback version and only gave the rights to the title for a film version to Saltzman and Broccoli. However after his death, a paperback edition was released and Jaws (Richard Kiel) is loosely based on the character named Horror, one of the two mobsters who visits the motel.
Fleming stated that his motivation for writing The Spy Who Loved Me was inspired by his discovery that his books were being read by youth who were making out Bond to be a hero. Out of concern for his part in shaping young minds, he wrote this novel as a tale of caution. Coming from the perspective of having just read Matthew Parker’s biography and given the timeframe of when the novel would have been written – 1961 – I wonder if there wasn’t some deeper introspection on the part of Fleming regarding the deterioration of his relationship with his wife. Both parties ‘openly’ engaged in affairs, but Fleming was unhappy and unhealthy in his later years.
Although Fleming was very much of the opinion that the novel was a failure, there were some positive responses. Both Raymond Benson and Jeremy Black agreed that Michel was Fleming’s most developed female character and that she finds strength in spite of her past experiences. And one reviewer appreciated the more romantic tone that set this novel apart. I look forward to reading it and making my own comparisons with the other novels and short stories that are part of Bond’s cannon.
Born this day 1918
Art Direction in Dr. No, From Russia with Love and Live and Let Die
Storyboard Artist in GoldenEye
Production Designer in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Alongside Ken Adam, the name Syd Cain is synonymous with Eon Productions and James Bond. Cain began working as a draughtsman at Denham Studios in the 1940s. Eventually, he would work with Saltzman and Broccoli on five Bond films spanning across four decades. He created several sets, such as for the chess match, and memorable gadgets, such as Colonel Rosa Klebbs’ shoe spike and Bond’s briefcase of lethal weapons and gold coins, all featured in From Russia with Love.
In 2002, Cain wrote his autobiography Not Forgetting James Bond in which he relates stories of his 57 years working in the industry. It’s illustrated with archival photographs, many of them rare and from Cain’s personal collection. MI6 Confidential has them for sale (includes Cain’s autograph) if your collection doesn’t include this tome.
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