11 August 2012

Book Review: The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Title: The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure
Author(s): William Goldman
Genre(s): Fantasy, Adventure
Publisher/Date: Harcourt Inc. / 1972
Series: Stand Alone

"A tale of true love and high adventure, pirates, princesses, giants, miracles, fencing, and a frightening assortment of wild beasts - The Princess Bride is a modern storytelling classic."

Grandson: Has it got any sports in it? 

Grandpa: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...


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The Princess Bride has all that and more. It's a classic fairytale and is, by far, one of the greatest love/action/adventure/revenge stories you will ever read. That's saying a lot but it's a sure thing. I guarantee it. But for those of you who may scoff at the fantasy, bear with me because it's not all cupcakes and sunshine either. There's death and heartbreak and a, sort of, satirical edge making it equally as engaging as any David Sedaris or Neil Gaiman novel. Wit and whimsy. What more could you ask for? For this reason, there is a little something for everyone.

What you are reading is a story within a story. It's a tale about the lasting effects that come from reading great books. It delivers a riveting tribute to the power and beauty of fairytales, even in an age where many consider them archaic and obsolete. This book delivers death-defying feats of love and heroism, and of course, one of the most satisfying acts of retribution ever written on a page. But it's more than that. There is substance here. At it's core, this book is about family, friendship and love (and not just that of Buttercup and Westley). The Princess Bride's real genius lies in how the story is told --- from Goldman's father to him and from him to his own son through the eyes of the fictional S. Morgenstern. And this is what makes it resonate to soundly for me.

Of course, it's hard to talk about the book without so much as mentioning the film. The film is iconic. If I'm being completely honest, until very recently, I didn't even realize that the movie was based on a novel. I know, I know. For shame! Anyway, I very rarely enjoy a film as much as the novelization, however, this is one case where I can say that they are equals in every sense of the word. I think this is due in large part to Goldman's hand at writing both the book and screenplay. The storyline is left largely in tact as is much of the original dialogue, rendering it in my eyes, a whopping success. Do you know anyone who doesn't run around uttering "INCONCEIVABLE!"? I know I do. Or what about this little gem? "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." I mean, c'mon! Is there any other bit as repeated or loved as that? And maybe in some regard I do hold a bias because I saw the film first, but I can't imagine a better case of casting. I dare any of you to try and picture these lovable characters as people other than who played them on screen. Name one guy who didn't want to share a peanut with Fezzik or one girl who didn't want to swoon in the arms of the dear Wesley. Pure perfection.

It is in my fair opinion that whether you choose to read the book or see the film, you are in for a magical treat. You'll be transported to a transcendent, magnificent world of folklore and believe me, it will stand the test of time. It is because of tales like The Princess Bride, that we're able to appreciate these little lessons and the stories that bring them to life.

Summary Prognosis 
I think the greatest part about The Princess Bride is it makes us think. It makes us look at the simple things and say "Yes!" or "That's it!" It makes you appreciate the magic of childhood and of true love and of the written word. It's about the power of stories and how they can irrevocably change us. In the end, you realize that anyone is capable of having a happily ever after and you will be left feeling profoundly satisfied. Inconceivable? Not even so.




Rating: ★★★★★


Read It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible
Watch It: Amazon | Target
Discuss It: Goodreads | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes

9 comments:

  1. Very nice! I completely agree that's why its my favorite film ever! INCONCEIVABLE??? I THINK NOT! I need to check out the book sometime. Cant wait to see whats next! :)

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  2. Sigh. One of my favourite books and my all-time favourite movie.

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    1. I know, Belle! I immediately thought of you when I reviewed this. :)

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  3. Fantastic review! I read this one a few years ago and while I enjoyed it, I wasn't too fond of the introduction. If I remember correctly I actually fell for the whole S Mortgenstern thing at the start! lol But once the actual story began I loved it.
    The film is a favorite. Weasley and Buttercup are one of my favorite couples ever. The movie has some fantastic lines in it, and so does the book.
    Awesome blog by the way! I'm now following :)

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  4. lol I just realized I called him Weasely! I meant Westley!

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  5. Aww, yay! I'm so glad to hear that! Like I said in my post, I never really knew it was even a book for the longest time but I'm glad I read it. I think the transition from book to film was so cohesive because Goldman had a hand at writing the script. And here's a fun fact: he actually envisioned the character Fezzik as Andre the Giant when he was writing the book. So talk about perfect casting!

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  6. Love the movie! I need to go ahead and read the book, but I never have! I will have to be sure and check it out!

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  7. One of my favorite films.

    And farewell Andre the Giant, you were great.

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