Published: July 15th, 2003 (First published in 1973)
The Princess Bride
By: William Goldman
What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and turns out to be...well...a lot less than the man of her dreams?
As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad's recitation, and only the "good parts" reached his ears.
Now Goldman does Dad one better. He's reconstructed the "Good Parts Version" to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.
What's it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.
In short, it's about everything.
Is this a kissing book? No, seriously speaking, I had never read the book version of this story before. I had obviously seen the movie more than a few times as a kid, and was enchanted by Buttercup, Westley, and the rest of the crew. I have had this book sitting on my shelf for quite some time (at least a couple of years) and am participating in a Goodreads challenge to help clear my to-read list and bookshelves. So I picked this one up, hoping to finally read it. I was not at all disappointed with this book - I really enjoyed myself! One thing that I think is a make-or-break for a lot of people are the interruptions by William Goldman, the man "abridging" the S. Morgenstern classic, and I know even the original parentheses by Morgenstern annoyed some people. I loved that literary device and the asides in the parentheses about history/inventions/etc. made me laugh more than once. I loved the idea of an author pretending to be abridging a favorite book from childhood, a story within a story. And Bill Goldman's sense of humor is sharper than a tack.
As for the story itself, it had more depth to it than the film, which is to be expected when dealing in books vs. films comparisons. We get to read more about Buttercup and Westley on the farm, before he leaves to make his fortune. I got to read about her journey to being the "most beautiful woman in the world" and I agree with other readers that she's not at all likeable in the book. The warmth and facial expressions of Robin Wright saved the character in the film version. Book Buttercup has no such luck and is pretty stupid when it comes down to it. Not to mention that she treats Westley like manure, right until she's "in love" with him - then she expects him to love her back. I used to think the whole "As you wish..." thing was romantic, but now I see just how unhealthy and built on horrible behavior their relationship really is. Good thing this whole book is pretty much a satire of fairy tales, not a real representation of relationships!
That said, I loved the details behind the stories of Fezzik, the gentle giant, and Inigo, the Wizard of fencing who plans to avenge his murdered father. We get to read more about their backgrounds, how they come to work for Vizzini and how they become friends/rhyming buddies. I liked the scene with Miracle Max and Valerie, but I do think that Billy Crystal's improvisations of the lines originally in the book lent a little more flavor to the character. I love Goldman telling us that he left out about sixty pages of packing/unpacking and clothing descriptions. His observations on things really did make this book for me. The base story stays the same, with Buttercup being kidnapped by Vizzini, Inigo and Fezzik, who are each bested by the mysterious Man In Black, who then absconds with Buttercup himself. What does the Dread Pirate Roberts have to do with all this and how will Prince Humperdinck react? Will Buttercup and Westley find true love after all? Will Inigo avenge his father's death? Will there be a happily ever after? The dialogue was pretty much exactly the same and I loved reading the differences between the film and book. Overall, as a fan of the film, it was definitely worth reading. I kind of recommend watching the film first, otherwise you might not really like Buttercup too much and I feel like that'd negatively impact your enjoyment of the overall story.
VERDICT: 3.5/5 Stars
**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
- "Cynics are simply thwarted romantics."
- "Who are you?"
"No one of consequence."
"I must know."
"Get used to disappointment."
- "Fool!" cried the hunchback. "You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia,' but only slightly less well known is this: 'Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.'
- "The dweam of wuv wapped wiffin the gweater dweam of everwasting west. Eternity is our fwiend, wemember that, and wuv wiw fowwow you fowever."
And, of course, this one:
- "As you wish..."