Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Book Review: The Princess Bride

Love is many things, none of them logical.
-from The Princess Bride  by William Goldman


One of the best movies of all time is The Princess Bride. Rarely do I make such a general statement with such finality, but I can assure you I'm telling the truth. If you doubt me, try to say, "My name is Inigo Montoya--" and not finish that sentence or try night to giggle when I pronounce marriage "mawidge". Maybe it's my age, but The Princess Bride was such a huge part of pop culture for me growing up and I didn't even own the movie until recently! I saw this film for the first time when a tv/vcr cart was wheeled into my 2nd grade classroom on a rainy day and my life was changed forever {being dramatic is totally okay here}. 

It's really, really difficult for me to watch a movie and then read a book. Aside from knowing what is going to happen, the imagination required for reading is unnecessary because you already have an image of everything in your head. However, because of my love for The Princess Bride movie I decided to give the book a try. Please note, I'm going to write this review with the assumption that you have seen the movie.

Something I did not know is that The Princess Bride is not an original story by William Goldman, it is actually a retelling of S. Morgenstern's story that Goldman's father told him as a child. Rather than reading like a direct story, the book reads rather informally, with Goldman giving asides in italics to justify what he has cut out of the story and why or explaining his reactions to certain parts as a boy. This is reminiscent of the boy (Fred Savage's character) in the movie whose grandfather is reading him the story. Sometimes Goldman's asides are long and have little to do with the story, but often times they are funny and give smart insight into what both Morgenstern and Goldman hope to achieve as writers through the book. I must admit, I skimmed through some of the italics, but to my credit Goldman gives permission to do so in the introduction. 

The story of Westley's adventure to save his love Buttercup from Prince Humperdink is almost exactly the same in both book and movie, verbatim. In fact, Goldman wrote the script for the movie, so very little was lost in translation. If you commonly read books and then see a film adaptation you know that it's very rare for everything to be left in tact. I know I may be a little biased {okay, more than a little...}, but The Princess Bride is a franchise that belongs with the likes of Harry Potter when it comes to properly executing this transition.

So if the movie is such a great interpretation of the book with practically word-for-word accuracy (seriously, all of those lines you repeat from the movie actually came from the book), is the book even worth reading? YES! The benefit of reading The Princess Bride versus watching the movie is, as with 99.99% of all books, you get so much more background information that helps you to better appreciate the characters. Westley and Buttercup's relationship is illustrated in depth with some of the most touching verbal exchanges of love I've read; the murder of Inigo's father by the six-fingered man is explained along with Inigo's journey to prepare himself for revenge; and we learn about gentle giant Fezzik and how such an intimidating man could be so caring. Knowing what each of these characters are fighting for and how their love drives them through this adventure gives so much more depth to the story, even when watching the movie. 

Additionally, the book offers more detail in the action scenes, primarily when Inigo and Fezzik rescue Westley from the torture chamber. I was also better able to understand the political conflict between Florin and Guilder through the book's details. As with most books, The Princess Bride gives a more well-rounded picture of the whole story that are limited in film adaptations due to time constraints. 

Bottom Line: If you love The Princess Bride {who doesn't!} and haven't read this book, I highly recommend it!! ★★★★★/5

Fun Facts: Do you by chance watch Homeland? Did you know that Saul is played by Mandy Patinkin, the same actor who played Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride?! Also, Prince Humperdink is the voice of Jack Skellington! And more commonly known: Buttercup is also Jenny in Forrest Gump, awesome!

  All book reviews are 100% my opinion. All books & characters belong to their respective authors. Book Review FAQ.

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