Having always enjoyed the 1987 movie The Princess Bride, I was initially sceptical of reading the book out of fear of being disappointed. However, I soon found that if you made a list of everything you would expect to find in a fairy tale story, this book has it all.
Firstly, let me talk about the context that can make the book seem confusing. The story begins with author William Goldman discussing how his father used to read him his favourite book The Princess Bride by fictional author S. Morgenstern. This is followed by his subsequent disappointment that his father had read him only certain parts of the story deeming the rest of it as irrelevant.
Goldman then sets out on a mission to rewrite the Morgenstern classic so that it includes only ‘the good parts’ and contains footnotes to explain the parts that were missed out and why they were missed out.
With everything set in motion we then begin the real plot that is set in the fictional land of Florin and centres around Buttercup and her love Westley. The entire story is their quest for true love and defeating everyone who gets in the way of that.
It was different to any book I’ve read before and at times, difficult to follow the switches between the actual story and the narrative written by Goldman. Although I personally found the switches in tense sometimes hard to follow, it did make the book appear believable. Whilst reading it I believed that Florin was a real place and that Morgenstern truly existed and this excited me. The fact that Goldman had mentioned researching Florin and the constant comments regarding Florinese history made it seem so real. The switches between Goldman’s ‘real life’ and the plot was written as if to replicate real events which I thought was particularly effective.
It is a very rare feeling when you read a fictional book that you can lose yourself in to the point where you think its all true but with this book I couldn’t shake that feeling.
A huge shout out to everyone who worked on the Princess Bride movie as the similarities between the book and the film were evident, both are an absolute joy. I was able to easily visualise the scenes of the movie when reading the book which made it more enjoyable.
Despite this, the footnotes did annoy me as I was eager to just get on with the story, the main plot was a fabulous read. I was rooting for our hero Westley throughout the novel and developed a strong hatred for villainous Prince Humperdink and his right hand Count Rugen as a reader naturally would. The story was written beautifully and flowed very naturally, it was easy to dip in and out of the story and pick up straight where you left off.
Aside from the confusing footnotes, my only other criticism was the epilogue entitled Buttercups Baby. There is a whole twelve pages worth of context explaining the importance and build up of the sequel. By the time I had actually gotten to read it, I had completely lost interest. The explanation of Buttercups Baby seemed slightly unnecessary to me or could have at least been a lot shorter without losing the purpose of the words.
The plot of the epilogue was also a source of confusion to me; who kidnapped Waverly? Why did they kidnap Waverly? What happened after Fezzik leaped after her? And where on earth were Buttercup and Westley whilst their daughter was snatched from babysitter Fezzik’s hands? So many unanswered questions.
I personally feel the book would have been much better without the addition of Buttercup’s Baby, all the lose ends had been tied and all the questions answered. When the four ride off on their white horses into the sunset, its easy enough to guess that they lived happily ever after.
Aside from this, the Princess Bride was overall a worth while read that made me smile from ear to ear. If anything reading the book makes the movie all the more enjoyable. In my opinion, this is Goldman’s best work and the one he will always be most remembered for. A cult classic that will remain so for a long time from now.