Book Review: The Princess Bride by William Goldman

For all of you out there exclaiming that you’ve seen a fabulous movie by the same name, yes, it is based on this book. I’ve actually never watched the movie, though I have grand expectations from the ravishing reviews of others. In fact, I once flipped to this movie and watched part of it– one of the more memorable scenes– and sat intrigued for about five minutes. Then I turned the television off in disgust. At the time, I found the part of the movie under budgeted and bland. So you can imagine my dismay at the prospect of reading this book.

My mission to read this book blossomed from a goal to read all one hundred books on a list that the librarian at my school gave me at the end of the year. The list shows the top young adult books, and it is my self-appointed duty to read them all, unless I absolutely refuse to do so. The Princess Bride actually made it up high in the list, number 17. It seemed like an important piece of literature from our society, and its high ranking led me to roll up my sleeves and check out the book.

There was one hitch in my plan, though. The book was nowhere to be found in my less than satisfying public library selection. All that showed up were peculiar renditions of The Princess Bride. Eventually, after my search had dwindled to hopeless, I spotted it from across the room on my literature teacher’s shelf. I must say, she has an amazing selection of books collecting dust on those sagging shelves. I gathered up what little courage I posses and approached her looming desk.

Just a little side note: Teachers scare me. I don’t enjoy speaking to them on a personal level. I don’t want to talk to them unless it is necessary. I don’t raise my hand. I sit, I learn, I leave. That is my philosophy in school, and I’d like to keep it that way.

My fear engulfed my whole being as I took a deep breath and ran through my question.

Me: HaveyoureadThePrincessBrideIhearditwasgood.

Teacher: Yes, *gestures to the shelf*

Me: It’sonmylistI’vebeenmeaningtoreadit.

Teacher: Do you want to borrow it? You can. Return it whenever.

Me: Yes! Thanks! *scurries back to my desk*

Step one of my mission was a success: obtain the book. Now, I jumped into my real goal: finishing. Before I could achieve this, however, I realized I was stuck in the introduction. I could not decide where the book began and the introduction stopped! For one, both were written in the same voice, which was hopelessly confusing. I expected a dull tale of old fashioned prince and princesses with some meager action and maudlin love scenes. Instead, I received an abridged copy with the first chapter telling of a boy and a father’s experience with the real Princess Bride story. Let me explain.

The Princess Bride is a “classic tale of true love and high adventure” by S. Morgenstern. The one we cherish today is an abridged version by William Goldman with his intake in italics plopped in at certain sections. I know, I was also perplexed.

William Goldman’s father read him The Princess Bride when he was sick in bed as a child. Goldman enjoyed the book so much, he scoured the book stores of New York for a copy for his son. His son attempted to read it, but failed miserably on the second chapter. When Goldman actually picked it up to physically read, not just listen to, he realized his father had skipped some parts. A lot of parts. Goldman only heard the “good parts” or the narrative sections. Seeing his favorite book tossed aside by people who get turned off by the dreary passages in between the “high adventure”, he decided to abridge it. Thus, the new and improved Princess Bride was born.

My ignorance of these changed shined through when I flipped though the introduction and the first chapter wondering where the actual story started. Finally, after some research with the help of the handy internet, I could actually plunge into the story without any further confusion.

In all honesty, I prepared for a tedious novel filled with difficult language, despite the abridgments. The satiric book did not live up to those expectations, and I couldn’t have been more pleased.

William Goldman edited out all the parts with the especially long rants on the ways of the royals. Morgenstern obviously had a special loathing in his heart for royalty, and he took it out on the readers. He added hundreds of paging about clothing and training and other things that would have put anyone to sleep. Fortunately, I didn’t have to read that version.

The narrative sections filled the plot with “true love and high adventure.” Morgenstern’s satiric voice was still obvious, as many people noticed about the movie as well. The scenes of brewing hatreds and sword fights and clever escapes made an exciting read for children young and old. The classic romance between Buttercup and Wesley was one of the idealistic relationships one always hopes to have. The feminists out there wouldn’t be too thrilled at Buttercup’s place as a clueless pretty girl in need of shelter, but I’m sure that’s just the satire peeking its head through the pages.

I don’t think you need me to tell you that this book is a popular movie for many reasons. The most important reason being that the book was so good! From the snippets I’ve seen and heard about the movie, it seems to stick to the plot well. Of course, I will always recommend the novel before the movie. Sorry Hollywood! But I do plan to watch the film in the near future, and I’ll be able to really compare the similarities between the two.

Definitely read The Princess Bride; trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

4.5/5 Stars

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One thought on “Book Review: The Princess Bride by William Goldman

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Unique Books | Stealing Pages

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