Heather's Reviews > The Prestige

The Prestige by Christopher Priest
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's review
Apr 28, 2011

really liked it
Read in April, 2011

My husband, Mike, has been recommending I read this book for years, but he likes historical nonfiction, generally, so he clearly can't be trusted in such matters. I am, however, an enormous fan of magicians, so it was only a matter of time. I'm so glad I finally read this thing, and I've told him about a hundred times. As I tweeted the other day: An epistolary novel about rival turn-of-the-century magicians = Heather bait.

If you've seen the movie (which I have, and I love it), the first thing you need to know is that the book is quite different. Perhaps due to clever marketing (Christian Bale was the bigger celebrity at the time), I always come away from the film thinking Borden (Bale's character) is the star, but the book really spends most of its time on Angiers, an aristocrat turned prestidigitator whose skill on stage is only as deep as his pockets; he is unable to puzzle out the way a trick is performed and has to purchase the information before he can learn to do (well) himself.

Unfortunately, this is the less-interesting character to me. Rather than give anything away in this review, I'll just say that I was far more interested in the minutiae of how Alfred Borden lived his life and dearly wished that his journal (as I say, it's an epistolary novel, and is told largely through the diaries of the two magicians) was longer and more revealing. While Angiers' story is certainly uncanny (and I mean that quite literally), there's something about the meat and potatoes of Borden's stage work and his everyday existence that fascinates me even more. Shame to miss out!

Worse, though, is that the framing story -- something the film rightfully chose to do without -- is absolutely unnecessary and distracting. MORE MAGICIANS, FEWER ANCESTORS.

That seems like a lot of negatives, now that I write it out, but hot damn did I love this story. Even knowing, generally, the plot and some of the major twists, I was eager to see how things would play out on the page. I love that each of the two men is hard to like in his own way, but I was drawn completely into their conflict and frequently changed "sides."
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I think you sold me on this book. I love the movie, too. And magicians.

Geoff You sold me too... added to my to-read list. Did you ever read "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell"? Sounds like it is somewhat similar.

Heather Yay! I look forward to hearing what you guys think of it!

Geoff, I haven't, though I own it. I'm discouraged by a) its size (I'm a very slow reader) and b) the fact that most people I know liked it at first and then found it a slog. Have you read it? Motivate me!

Geoff Loved it! One of the best books I've read in the last ten years. Charles Dickens crossed with Harry Potter. I should read it again soon.

That said, it is long and complex, so if you like quick resolution to plotlines, I could see that it might slog.

I should also note that my "to read" list is almost 100 books, and seems to grow rather than shrink, so who knows when I actually will get to The Prestige.

Harold I'm about ten pages from the end and will be finished by tomorrow. I have to say I have truly enjoyed the book and frimnom what I've read on GR reviews I'm looking forward to some kind of twist.

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