Before I start talking about the book I have a quick announcement to make that will also make this post fall into the ‘Blog News’ category. After beginning my blog on March 11th of this past year and keeping a steady reading pace going throughout the rest of the year, this post will by my 100th book review for my blog. 100 books is a lot to read in a single year, and that is just counting the books that I’ve read since I started my blog in March. I’m going to say a quick thank you for everyone who follows my blog and has commented on my posts, you’re a large part of the reason that I’ve kept this up. It’s been great reading what you’ve said about my reviews and I’ve been introduced to quite a few great books both from comments on my blog and from looking through many other blogs for book suggestions. It’s been fun keeping my blog and I hope you stick around for the next 100 book reviews (as well as the rest of my semi-coherent ramblings that I offer from time to time).
Now that that’s out of the way, we can move along to the rest of the review and my thoughts about this book. The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies ever, it’s one of the best movies ever made, and having seen the movie so many times, reading the book was a really unique and interesting experience. Goldman even sets it up to be a more interesting story than it actually was. He tells a very believable story about how the book was originally written by S. Morgenstern. In writing this novel he created a backstory for how it became an ‘abridged’ novel which allowed him to include some interesting thoughts throughout the course of the book.
In the opening section of the book, Goldman talks about how his ‘abridged’ version came about. When he was 10 years old he was recovering from pneumonia and his father read him this book (yes, exactly like the grandfather reading it in the movie). Years later, when his son turned 10 he found a copy of the book and gave it to him. His son tried to read the novel, and stopped after the first chapter. Goldman didn’t understand why until he actually picked up the book (which he never had until after his son put it down). The original book is much longer and contains large sections of essentially info-dumping and irrelevant scenes that never impact the overall story. When his father read him the story as a child, he cut out these parts to make a more coherent story.
The two main characters are Westley and Buttercup. Buttercup is the child of two farmers and Westley is the farm boy who helps at their farm. Buttercup begins the story as a somewhat spoiled child who is very rude to Westley, never referring to him as anything other than farm boy and ordering him around all the time. Westley takes all of her ordering and never replies by saying anything other than “As you wish.” Eventually they realize that they are in love. Westley is a very intelligent and hardworking young man who is always trying to better himself. Buttercup is a beautiful young woman who will also do anything she can to better herself for Westley. They aren’t terribly original as characters, but they don’t have to be for this story to work. They are very well written and very consistent, which works out very well for this story. Most of the diversity of the characters come from the side characters, specifically Inigo Montoya and Fezzik. Inigo is one of the greatest swordsmen in the world who is trying to avenge the death of his father. Fezzik is a fairly simple minded giant who works alongside Vizzini with Inigo.
The book is set in Florin, a fictional country somewhere in Europe.
The book begins with Westley and Buttercup living on Buttercup’s family farm. Shortly after they realize they are in love with each other, Westley goes off to earn his fortune. Unfortunately, his ship is attacked by pirates and he is killed. Several years later, Buttercup is to be wed to Prince Humperdinck. Shortly before the wedding, she is kidnapped by Vizzini, Inigo, and Fezzik, who plan to kill her in the country of Guilder in order to start a war between the countries of Guilder and Florin. Unfortunately for them, they are followed by a man in black who is out to capture the princess for his own reasons.
Maybe I’m just a bit of a sucker, but I really liked and really believed the story that Goldman wrote about how he published the ‘abridged’ version of the book. It was really fun and added another wonderful layer to what is already a fun story. As I was writing this post I did a quick check on wikipedia for the review and that’s where I discovered that the story behind the story wasn’t true. I’m actually a little upset with that, in part because I was gullible enough to believe it but mostly because it was a really cool backstory for the book. But the truth is that writing the book this way allowed Goldman to do some interesting literary things that he couldn’t have done in any other fashion.
The exact story of The Princess Bride is very close to the movie, with very little extra added (just some very small background information). Many of the best lines from the movie are also in the book, and it’s absolutely wonderful to read after having seen the movie as many times as I have (and I think I’m going to watch it again after I post this).
If you like the movie (and how can you not, it’s one of the best movies ever made) you’ll like the book. If you somehow haven’t seen the movie, it’s still a very well written book that does a lot of interesting things.