Author: William Goldman
First Published: 1973
Page Count: 450
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 3/5 Stars
The well-known tale of romance and high adventure will be a hit or miss for readers depending on their opinion of the author’s unique concept for the book.
*Charming fairytale *Story doesn’t take itself too seriously
*Author’s narration of story *Disliked Westley and Buttercup
“‘My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!’” Buttercup, the most beautiful woman in all the land, is set to marry Prince Humperdinck. The problem is, she doesn’t love him and her heart will always belong to her true love, Westley, the quiet boy who grew up tending her parents’ farm. It will take a kind-hearted giant, a master swordsman, and Westley’s fierce determination to free Buttercup from the prince and his villainous plans for her.
As I started reading, I really found myself enjoying this book. It has all the elements of a good fairytale (as the author will point out): true love, a handsome hero, a lovely princess in distress, and plenty of action. However, because of the occasional humor that pops up in the book, the story doesn’t feel old-fashioned. It is charming and aims to be a lovely fairytale, but it also doesn’t try to take itself too seriously which only makes it more charming in my eyes.
However, by the end of the story, it almost felt sacrilegious that I wasn’t totally in love with the book anymore. This seems to be another situation where the book had small pieces to it that made the overall “feel” of the story different then the “feel” of the movie. I haven’t seen the movie in a long time, but I don’t remember Buttercup being so dumb. I wanted to like her, but I can’t root for a dumb princess or really any dumb character, royalty or not. Both she and Westley felt very one-dimensional, so much so that every move they made came off as predictable. But my biggest gripe with the book was the author’s constant interruption of the story. I dreaded those italicized paragraphs. I thought it was something that would be limited to the beginning of the book. Alas, he decided to incessantly butt into my story, revealing major upcoming plot points at every turn. Not only did it make the story feel choppy, but I HATE when I’m told ahead of time about a major plot point in any book regardless of whether I’ve already seen the movie half a dozen times. Some people might enjoy this little game the author plays within the book where he makes the reader believe he is abridging some long-lost work of literature, but I was not a fan in the least. I just wanted my Princess Bride story, not all this other nonsense about random things like your fictional obese son (which was slightly entertaining, but distracting nonetheless).
This was another disheartening journey into a book where I had already seen the movie adaptation. I wanted very very badly to love this book, especially since it took me so long to eventually get a new copy after my mother had gotten rid of my brother’s copy from high school that I had clearly shelved for later perusal. However, the book spawned some classic scenes, characters, and quotes, and there are plenty of people who enjoyed Goldman’s odd storytelling. It’s worth a shot, but for some, it might not outshine the film.
*Film Adaptation: (Starring Robin Wright 1987)