"Masterpiece" doesn't cut it. It's a work of art. To be honest, I didn't even know this was a book until I found it in the library, but now it's one o...more"Masterpiece" doesn't cut it. It's a work of art. To be honest, I didn't even know this was a book until I found it in the library, but now it's one of my favorites (let's put it this way -- I read it in one day). I love Gothic novels, but this one tops everything I've ever read. I'll admit it's not for everyone, but I have no idea what people mean when they say it's hard to read. The characterizations are so vivid, it was like being sucked into the pages. From the follies of the opera managers, to the frustration of Raoul, to the courage of Christine, there's such life in this story that you can't help but marvel at the stark contrast of Erik's world. It is one of the very few books that actually made me cry, though the ending of the book was more merciful (to me) than the play. Long story short, if you haven't read it, do it now! (less)
I've met my match. I have never ever ever come across a book, barring this one, that I just couldn't handle reading for extended periods of time. Not...moreI've met my match. I have never ever ever come across a book, barring this one, that I just couldn't handle reading for extended periods of time. Not because it was bad, but because it was just so darn sad!
I'm a huge fan of Leroux's original novel and I'm always nervous about reading anything to do with Phantom of the Opera (I'm still recovering from The Phantom of Manhattan), but there really wasn't anything to worry about with this one. Susan Kay did a remarkable job of fleshing out Erik's previously shadowy past. Her original characters were well-drawn; I still have mixed feelings about Madeleine and I liked Giovanni almost as much as Nadir. The part that concerned me the most turned out to be the part that most blew me away: Erik's characterization. It wasn't overdone or understated, it was just right. The pain, the passion, the madness...it was all so Erik I can't find the words to do it justice. It turned me into a sniffling, sobbing wreck!
I do have just one little problem with it, though. From Erik's birth to his taking up residence in the Opera House was told in such detail that when Christine finally arrived on the scene, it seemed to fly by too fast by comparison. I understand that the Erik/Christine/Raoul triangle was covered good and plenty by Leroux so there's no need to go all-out when the book had already gone on so long, but I thought a little more time might have been spent on it. It was the most pivotal, important relationship of Erik's tormented life, and as such it should have been treated with more thought.
And yet I have to hand it to Ms. Kay. She worked me over so well with the last scene at the house on the lake I wanted to tear my hair out in anguish. It was so intense and so electrically charged I couldn't sleep after reading it (which was pretty rough, as I couldn't stop thinking about it, thus furthering the torment). And the last bits from Raoul's perspective were rather touching, which came as a surprise since he seemed like such a minor character up until then.
All in all, a must-read for phans and heck, anyone who needs a good cry. Take the advice I didn't, and keep the tissues handy!(less)
Against my better judgment and the advice of everyone I've heard menti...moreTweaking slightly because I felt like it...
So this is what regret feels like....
Against my better judgment and the advice of everyone I've heard mention this atrocity, I went to the library and borrowed The Phantom of Manhattan. Thank God I didn't actually waste money on buying it. I ended up reading it as fast as I could--not because it was any good at all, but just to get it over with as soon as possible. And I still have no clue how I managed to keep from throwing the stupid thing across the room in disgust. Unless I was paralyzed by aforesaid disgust...
I had some idea of what I was in for just by reading that arrogant, self-righteous, jumped-up preface. After a brief history of POTO in print, film, and stage (none of which is really necessary, but vaguely interesting), Forsyth actually has the nerve to insist that Gaston Leroux--without whom none of this would even exist--got his own story wrong! Oh, hell to the NO! He then proceeds to boost his own ego in regards to his work by picking on such trivial details from the original such as whether or not cutting the gas from the light system would result in instant darkness and the fact that Leroux never gives his narrative an exact date. If an author falls to belittling another person's work in such a manner, it's best to just drop the book and forget it completely. Sadly, my stubborn streak wouldn't let me off the hook so easily, and I kept reading.
Now onto the rest of the book. It's told in first person, and at first that seems like a good thing ("Hey, we'll get to see it from a more personal point of view!"). However, except for one chapter featuring Mme. Giry, who you'd think we'd see more of, based on the summary of the book, and two, just two, chapters narrated by Erik himself, we're held at arms length by reporters, lawyers, carnival workers, and the like. Who are these people to us? They're plot devices that keep us away from the characters we really care about. Top it all off with the fact that the writing itself is completely unremarkable, and you've got serious problems.
The plot is barely held together by all these faceless people! It just jumps from one seemingly random event to another! Forsyth makes a HUGE mistake with Erik's characterization! I'm not blind to the dear Phantom's faults and flaws, but I hardly think he would keep on in this insane obsession if he'd really learned his lesson in the original. And while the ending might--MIGHT--have been as tragic as it was intended, telling us about it in a college lecture has exactly the opposite effect. As I read it, the only thought in my head was "And why should I care about this?"
Quick side note before I wrap this up. I'm not Raoul's biggest fan, but was it necessary to go so far as to do that to the poor man? That's the worst case of Raoul-bashing I've ever heard of!
Bottom line: I honestly cannot recall ever hating a book outright, but this horrible! In addition to insulting Leroux, Forsyth botches the intended homage to his apparently idolized Andrew Lloyd Webber (and we wonder how Love Never Dies came into being?). No wonder the musical bombed in London, based off this garbage! But I will admit, I prefer a barely-there, much abused Raoul to the gambling alcoholic Webber gave us.(less)