Title: The Princess Bride
Author: William Goldman
Page Count/Review Word Count: 399
This book is an odd one – you might be familiar with the movie version of the book, starring Andre the Giant, Cary Elwes, Christopher Guest, Billy Crystal and Peter Falk. The movie is considered to be a cult classic, and it’s easily one of my favourite films of all time.
Because of this, it took me a while to get used to the book – while the basic story-line remains the same, the way in which it’s presented is completely different. Goldman’s narrative is presented as though it’s an abridgment of The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern, a fictional book by a fictional author which serves as a plot device in both the movie and the novel.
In most cases, this would be gimmicky and unnecessary – here, however, it allows Goldman to add his own commentary and annotations, effectively allowing him to carry out a dialogue with his fictional author for literary effect. Goldman continued the joke at a later date, writing an entire book called The Silent Gondoliers and releasing it under Morgenstern’s name.
You can’t knock Goldman’s work for sheer originality, and the novel contains all of the elements of action, adventure, romance and fairly tale that you’re used to if you’ve seen the movie. It really is an epic tale, one in which your imagination takes over and Goldman’s writing simply serves as the backdrop for an adventure that you live out in your mind’s eye. Who needs a movie, when your imagination can do the job for you?
A word of warning, though – if I were you, I’d watch the movie before you read the novel. It’s one of the rare occasions where I rate the adaptation even more highly than the original, and I think that you will too. It’s not that Goldman’s writing isn’t enjoyable, it’s just that it’s quirky, zany and occasionally confusing – the book and the film are different enough that you can enjoy one of them after consuming the other, but you’ll find it easier to follow the story-line of the novel if you already know roughly what’s going to happen.
All in all, though, it’s a fantastic novel and a wonderful story – get ready to fall in love with Princess Buttercup, to make friends with Westley the farm boy.