The Princess Bride

9780747545187I genuinely couldn’t believe that I had never picked up ‘The Princess Bride’ before, given that it’s such a well known and widely loved classic book. Obviously this was enough to convince me to read it without much further ado. On one hand I enjoyed reading this, yet on the other hand I felt a vague sense of disappointment – as if something was missing or incomplete in a sense. Trouble is, I’m not entirely sure what.

All the characters presented were amazingly rich and vivid. As a reader I felt that they must exist in some parallel fantasy world. I couldn’t help but immediately like the heroes and feel disgust towards the villains. Some of the things the characters said also made me chuckle – they were  just outrageously ridiculous!

“True love is the best thing in the world, except for cough drops.”

My favourite character (to my surprise) was Inigo. I felt a sense of admiration for him quite early on which only grew as the story progressed. His journey had been beautifully written. I found his story to be the one with the most emotional depth. I have to say, I did have some trouble relating to Buttercup at times. Although I can appreciate that her character developed the most during the story, there was still something missing from her character. I had very mixed feelings towards her – I couldn’t decide if I liked her or not.

The plot unfurled at a rapid pace. It was fast paced, thrilling and action packed. I have to admit; I found the fight scenes rather epic. So much so, that whilst reading them I held my breath – I was completely ensorcelled! The various settings were described with so much detail and clarity, that I could easily believe they could be real.

“Who are you?”
“No one of consequence.”
“I must know.”
“Get used to disappointment.”

However, a couple of things plot wise were never really explained and sort of brushed over which was a smudge disappointing. It felt as if Goldman was hiding behind Morgenstern to avoid giving the explanation regarding some of the finer plot points. True enough, they were very small points that probably most readers would just overlook and not that big of a deal but for some reason it still bugged me a little.

Having said that, I unquestionably liked the way the book had been written. It was a story within a story, which was amazing. The whole idea of it felt fresh and original. Goldman’s story telling skills are incredible. The tone of the book was light – almost like a conversation in many respects.

Another thing I really liked was how every now and again Goldman would interrupt the narrative, to add in his own piece, before returning back to the main story. I have to say though that towards the end of the book, these interruptions were becoming less welcome. At that point, I just wanted to read the story rather than being constantly interrupted after every couple of paragraphs or so with what seemed at times to be a bit of waffle…

“Why do you wear a mask and hood?”
“I think everybody will in the near future,” was the man in black’s reply. “They’re terribly comfortable.”

The ending was left rather ambiguous. Too much was left unanswered and unaccounted for. The upside is the reader can make up their own ending and it leaves a lot to be discussed with others, which I totally get. Nonetheless, I still would have liked the ending to be tied up properly. On top of that, the ‘sequel’ seemed a little unnecessary. It felt disjointed – like it didn’t quite fit in with the book as a whole.

Overall, this has to be one of the best fairytales I’ve read. It had everything in it – from romance to epic fencing fights to loveable characters. Yes, it had its flaws (what book doesn’t?) but honestly, these can be overlooked. As for feeling that something was incomplete – I’m still trying to figure out what. Then again if I was to side step that issue, it was a pretty amazing book. My only regret is, I wish I had read it when I was younger.

Happy Sunday,

Saz

Us

us-by-david-nicholls-book-jacket-cover1

I’ve always been somewhat reluctant to pick up contemporary books due to their realism and lack of escapism. However, I decided it was time to broaden my reading palate, step outside my comfort zone and not be too quick to judge a book based on its genre. So, with these thoughts mixed with a hint of trepidation, I picked up ‘Us’ and began reading at a pace that took me by complete surprise.

Douglas and Connie have been happily married  for nearly three decades. Out of the blue, Connie tells him that she may want a divorce. The timing however could not be worse – Connie has planned a tour around Europe in a bid to encourage their son’s artistic temperament, which she cannot convince herself to cancel. Douglas secretly plans to rekindle the romance in his marriage and form a connection with his son.

At the beginning of the book, the narrative appeared to be very jumbled – continuously jumping from present to random episodes in the past, which weren’t in any discernable order. Despite this chaotic start, I soon fell in love with how the narrative had been written. The narrative still jumped from present to past, where the past episodes were not presented in a chronological order. Yet, that did not matter anymore because Nicholls had drawn links between the present and the past. This in a way made the reading experience more enjoyable as Nicholls would drop little hints before switching the tense, making some chapters end on cliffhangers.

Nicholls’ style of narrative was perfectly seamless – everything just seemed to flow smoothly (a cliché I know, but I have no idea how else to describe it). It read effortlessly. In all honesty, that is probably what I love the most about his books.

Another thing that struck a chord were the bite-sized chapters with the titles. I don’t know why, but I felt it added something original. Additionally, some of the quotes were absolutely beautiful.

“… but nostalgia is a useless, futile thing because it is a longing for something that is permanently lost . . . ”

Despite all of this, I still had a few issues with this novel. First and foremost was the character of Douglas. He came across, as being narrow minded, exhausting and bitter. He just focused too much on the practicalities of life that he forgot to enjoy life. But the main issue I had was the fact that he seemed to lack basic empathy – that in itself frustrated me endlessly to the point where I grew tired of his voice.

Nevertheless, I was able to sympathize with him on a handful of occasions but found it impossible to empathize. As for the other characters presented, I didn’t really feel emotionally invested in any of them, which was a disappointment.

As a whole, the book did address serious issues concerning relationships. In particular, it did a brilliant job in highlighting the strains and difficulties of parenthood – how it isn’t always smooth sailing nor does it turn out how you imagined it. Not only this, but it also effectively depicted that relationships are something that cannot be taken for granted all the time.

“I hope you know I have regrets, things I shouldn’t have said. Or things I should have said but didn’t, which is often worse…”

All in all, I found this to be a wonderful book in the message it was sending out. The way it had been written was simply brilliant, which for me, made the book. The only real disappointment was the lack of emotional connections formed with the characters – which is something I’ve experienced in one of Nicholls’ other books. I don’t think I’ll be picking up another contemporary book for a while but I’m glad I read this one.

Happy Reading,

Saz