The Princess Bride is yet another one of those classic books that “everybody” has read but that I have just now read for the first time. I don’t think I’ve seen the movie either, although it’s possible I saw it when I was very young and just don’t remember it. A few of the lines in the book were familiar, but that may just be because I’ve heard people quote from the movie over the years.
I really enjoyed this although I think, maybe a little oddly, I enjoyed the framing story the best. I did enjoy the main story, and it held my interest, but its satire gave it a tendency to cross the line into ridiculousness. In many ways it was like reading Pratchett’s Discworld books: entertaining and clever, but not usually the kind of story that I would get completely wrapped up in.
The framing story, on the other hand, felt a little more serious, if less fantastical, and added a couple layers on top of the main story. It was those layers that I particularly enjoyed. I have a little more to say about that, but I’m going to put it in spoiler tags. If there’s anybody else in the world who knows as little about the story as I did, I don’t want to rob them of the fun I had. :)
When I first started reading the book, I was worried that I’d somehow gotten the wrong book and was reading an actual abridgement. I was reading in my Kindle, so I touched the name of Morgenstern on my screen and was immediately informed that he was a fictional author created by Goldman. So that undoubtedly saved me some frustration in trying to find the “real” book. :) After that, I was completely absorbed by trying to figure out which parts of the framing story were real and which parts were fake. I laughed several times for no other reason than because I was so confused about what (if anything) was real and what wasn’t. Then, on top of that, there’s the implication that the main story itself was based on true events and places. I just loved that whole aspect of it, the layer upon layer of fiction made to appear real and written about so seriously that I started to wonder if parts of it were real after all. Google helped clear up the last of my confusion after I finished reading the book. Assuming the info I found on Google was real, of course, and not a cleverly planted framing story for the framing story! ;)
For anybody who does read this for the first time, I have some pieces of advice:
- If you start the book and think you’re reading the wrong book, don’t worry, you’re not.
- If possible, get a more recent edition that includes the 25th and 30th anniversary introductions. I thought they were worth reading, and I think one or both editions may have added some material at the end also.
- But do not, under any circumstances, read those 25th and 30th anniversary introductions before you read the main book. Especially not the 30th. It’s full of spoilers, and I think it would be harder to appreciate it without having the knowledge gained while reading the book. In particular, it answers a question you won’t know you have until you get to the end of the book, by which time you may have forgotten you were given the answer because it didn’t mean anything to you when you read it. Fortunately, past experience has taught me to avoid reading introductions for classic books until after I’ve read the book itself. They so often assume the reader already knows the story.
I’m normally reluctant to spend time watching movies, but I think I’ll watch this movie, probably tonight. It helps that I’m on vacation this coming week, so I can surely manage to spare the time for one movie. I always hear such great things about this one.