Review: The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High AdventureThe Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first saw the movie adaptation in middle school. The youth ministry pastor decided to share it with us. I fell in love immediately. When I came across it again in college, I bought it and my wife and I have seen it so many times we can more or less recite the movie. Outside of Disney movies the only others we know so well are Snatch and The Birdcage. While I was in college I came to realize it was based on a book. At the time I was a huge Audible fan and I got it as an audible book. The weird narrative structure didn’t make sense to me as a audio book. So I put it off for about a decade. Then, I suddenly decided to check it out from the library.

This is one of the few times I saw the movie before I read the book it was based on. Usually it’s the other way around. However, The Princess Bride is one of those rare times where there weren’t too many changes made between the book and the movie. Nearly every change made perfect sense to me as something that had to be adapted for the differences between visual and non-visual media. Most of my favorite quotes exist, intact, in the book.

I think as a book, the meta-setup of Goldman’s book within a book took way too long and had too many diversions. I appreciated the ones that corresponded to the boy/grandfather scenes in the movie, but most of the introduction took way too long. Additionally, given that we have an unreliable narrator I was left unsure of whether to trust his scenes with Andre the Giant or whether those, too, were fictional.

I also think that Buttercup comes across a bit worse in the book than in the movie. No none can really say the movie is a feminist work of art, but by comparison, book-Buttercup is almost painful to read. The book has the “she cleans up well” trope which is annoying. But, rather than the beautiful (if a bit sappy) way they realize their love for each other in the movie – she doesn’t find him attractive until the Countess can’t keep her eyes off him. And then the way she tells Wesley as well as the way she works on her appearance while he’s gone… let’s just say that while they’re not overly negative, I feel a bit weird giving the book to my daughter.

I appreciated the extra background that Inigo and Fezik get. The Zoo is also pretty great.

The epilogue, Buttercup’s Baby, was added with the 25th anniversary edition. (This was the 30th anniversary edition) It’s OK, but mostly unnecessary. The only thing that made it worth reading to me was the section on Inigo.

Overall, the book was great! For this huge movie fan, it did not disappoint – it just had these little things that kept it from having 5 stars, in my eyes.

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