My astute 15-year-old sister picked up my copy of The Princess Bride by William Goldman when I had leant it to my marvellous mother, and so of course I had to find out what she thought. Does the tale of legendary derring do and narrative trickery stand the test of time? I read this for the first time last summer – read my review here – and loved it!
Zöe! Had you heard of The Princess Bride before stealing it from our good mother?
I’d heard of it but not seen the film. I’d heard of it through films, one of my friends has been raving to me about the film all the time, ‘such a great film’, then I noticed mum had the book and thought, books are always better, I’ll read it!
…so what were you expecting?
Mainly not to be as confused as I was. I don’t know what I was expecting: some sort of Zorro-esque fighting I guess, which I did get.
What was your first reaction?
Erm, I was confused by Goldman’s narrative to start with, as I was thinking is this real, is it not real, I don’t know enough to know… but as soon as the story started I just got completely involved and loved it.
What was your favourite bit?
I think my favourite bit is near the end when Fezzik and Inigo are going through the Zoo of Death and it’s a really satisfying moment in level five when… actually I won’t say that because I want people to read it to find out the end. They have a satisfying innocence opposed to the real danger.
But generally I love the way it just jumps around and does the complete unexpected.
Do you think it’s a bit outdated?
No, definitely not! Because it’s a story within a story you’re already looking back for the main story so it sets a trend: you can look back on the framing narrative too. You can look at both as though they are in the past as the inner story is so far back.
And what did you think of the dual storyline?
I really enjoyed it. There were times when I was like come on I want to read the next bit of the other story but then in the end I’m glad I read all of it because it made it feel more real. More personal, somehow.
It took me a long time, but when I realized the framing storyline wasn’t real it made me reflect even more on the inner story and why he would put the other one alongside it. And made me wonder why he put the other one alongside it.
Yeah. I guess so.
Oh. Thanks. Who is your favourite character?
I love Inigo, I really do. He is so stupid but so clever at the same time and doesn’t realize his intelligence, I love it when he and Fezzik take control themselves.
Why do you think it’s so popular?
It’s so crazy and so unexpected that it’s as though loads of people have had a revelation because storylines don’t always have to be what you expect. Though the traditional stories are fantastic it’s great to have a more realistic version.
Maybe not, but they face more troubles than in traditional fairytales. Buttercup annoyed me though.
Erm, I just think she was too simplistic. I feel like there could have been a greater depth to her character. She was so significant but when she was in it she seems so insignificant. She could have been stronger character. I know it’s the writer’s intention but the whole point of the book is to provoke reactions in the reader.
I guess it’s a good thing that I didn’t like because it shows that Goldberg achieved his aim because it took me out of what I expected: I was imagining a sassy, fierce, intelligent princess who is obviously the most beautiful in all the land but also has a head on her shoulders. Goldberg created a reaction in me through her wussiness – and I guess it creates a reaction in me against being wussy.
Do you want to see the film?
Yeah. I do.
Let’s do it. Anything else to say?
It’s so confusing but gradually becomes so clear. The more you talk about it the more you think about it, and people have different views and ideas about the plotline, it makes you think about it more and more, it’s addictive. I can see why so many people were obsessed with it, because it’s an obsessive book naturally. It’s such an evolving story with the themes inside it. It makes such a mockery of traditions, without even having to say too much about it. It was easy… but difficult!
Would you recommend it to your friends?
Definitely! Only the more intelligent ones though. Too many people would get confused by that book!
Which ones are the intelligent ones?
Maybe not, hey?