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Shooting Russian spies

James Bond, the woman, and the Club


The Spy Who Loved Me spine

“Vivienne Michel writes: the spy who loved me was called James Bond, and the night on which he loved me was a night of screaming terror in the Dreamy Pines Motor Court in the Adirondacks in the north of New York State.

“It’s all true-absolutely.”

Of course, Vivienne Michel only exists in this book.

When Ian Fleming sold the film rights to The Spy Who Loved Me, it was to the title only. The plot of the film has nothing in common with the book, but that doesn’t matter.

In the book we get a couple of grotesque second rate but nevertheless deadly Bond villains. One’s a “frightening lizard of a man”, and the other is a completely hairless man who “looked a young monster”, but our heroine show herself to be a tough cookie too, in this tale that Vivienne writes in the first person.

The Spy Who Loved Me title page

This edition was published in 1962 by The Book Club, who were based in Charing Cross Road, London.

My mum was in another book club in the 1960s; I think it was The Companion Book Club. Once a month the club would send her a book that they had chosen, and she could also buy other books if she wished.

I remember the dust jackets, all the same pattern but each in a different colour, on the bookcase shelves in our front room.

Mum told me that book after book was aimed just at men, so she cancelled her membership.

The books were more my sort of thing, so I read quite a few of them. I remember prison escape books, including As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me by Josef M. Bauer.

Bauer was a German army lieutenant who walked 8,000 miles home from a Siberian labour camp after being imprisoned at the end of the Second World War. There were a lot of books published about men’s wartime experiences then.

Some of the other books from the club I just didn’t understand, like the crime thriller The D.A. Breaks an Egg (by Erle Stanley Gardener) but I was just a schoolboy in the sixties.

The Spy Who Loved Me back page

Deborah Gayton owned this book in the 1980s; she’s put her name on it in four different places in the front pages. Inside the back cover she has written that she read it on Saturday 29th September 84 to… (it doesn’t say who to…)

From all this I would guess that she was a teenager then. I wonder what happened to her.

The Spy who loved me by Ian Fleming (and, allegedly, Vivienne Michel)




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