Author: William Goldman.
What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be…well…a lot less than the man of her dreams?
As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the “S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad’s recitation, and only the “good parts” reached his ears.
Now Goldman does Dad one better. He’s reconstructed the “Good Parts Version” to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.
What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, and Miracles.
In short, it’s about everything.
Do you know how long it took me to realize there is no “unabridged” version of this story? It was infuriating.
Goldman claims to be writing the abridged version; indeed, this comes up again and again in the footnotes, as he comments on how many pages he cut out here or there or how he never even knew this part existed when his father read it to him. This is actually a fairly clever narrating trick, as it lets him take a step back from his own story and make comments on it via parentheticals and footnotes. It lets him imbue the story with a past and a meaning, in a way that really does change the reader’s experience.
It’s really hard to imagine what I would think of the story itself on its own, because everyone’s watched the movie first. It’s just how this particular story works. And the thing is – it feels almost heretical to say it – the movie might be better.
Don’t kill me.
But the reason I enjoyed the book, once I got into the actual story (it doesn’t start properly for almost forty pages, despite the “abridged” claim) was for the extra backstory on characters I already know and love. The Princess Bride story proper, with its over-the-top humor and True Love stated but rarely shown and the nonsensical nature of parts, almost seemed better suited to the movie.
Sexual Content: The “Duke became smitten with his own mother-in-law” – this is mentioned in the introduction, not described.
Language: 3 d***, 1 derogatory term
Violence: Character kills a monkey by snapping its spine. One character strangles another to unconsciousness. Three Rats of Unusual Size attack a character – he kills one of them, and the other two turn on it. This scene basically repeats. Character kills multiple bats with his sword. Two characters are attacked by a strangling snake, which one of them kills by beating against the walls until dead. There is some description of torture, although the character subjected to it doesn’t feel any pain (through mind-tricks, essentially); the reader may still be disturbed by the “spinning ticks”, or when his hands are covered in oil and set on fire. Several characters hear a wild dog screaming as it is killed in extreme pain. “The Machine” is brought out – specifics of how it tortures are not given, only that it is “sucking life out” but the character is subjected to extreme pain.
Other: One character is very drunk for a short time on screen.