Tiffany's Reviews > The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
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Aug 11, 07

bookshelves: classics, movies, fantasy
Recommended for: fans of the musical, fans of suspense novels or ghost stories
Read in August, 2007

One of my fondest memories is going to Canada with my mom and aunt to see Andrew Lloyd Webber's version of The Phantom of the Opera when I was in 6th grade. Since then, I've seen the opera again, as well as the 2004 movie. After I saw the movie, I decided it was finally time to read the book upon which the opera was based.

I really enjoyed the book, but all along, I wondered if I only enjoyed it because I'd seen it performed a number of times. Was I only able to get into the book because the experience of seeing it performed was such a good memory? Honestly, if I'd never seen the musical, I'm not sure I would have made it past the first few chapters. I think, had it not been for knowing how great the story is (or Webber's version, at least, and subsequently wanting to compare the two), this book would have fallen into my Nancy's Rule of 50 category. Not that the first chapters were bad, but more that they were .... ordinary. They were good enough, but they wouldn't have captured my attention enough to make me want to continue reading.

Luckily, though, since I was driven by my desire to read the book upon which the musical and movie were based, I pressed on. As it went on, the book got better. I found myself not wanting to put it down, and breezing right through it. The epilogue let me down a bit, but overall, I really enjoyed the book. It was a nice, quick read, and despite its dark subject, it was a good summer read.

One thing I appreciated about reading the book is that it cleared up a lot of questions raised by the opera and the movie -- you know, things that the writers want to keep true to the book, but either don't have time to explain, or just choose not to explain. I never understood why Raoul was supposed to keep his hands at the level of his eyes. The book, of course, explains this. It's about time! And it's always a bit discombobulating when plots and characters are different in the adapted versions versus the original books (I think, perhaps, Meg Giry is my favorite character in the movie, but she's actually hardly in the book! And Raoul is almost a wimp in the book compared to the musical and movie), but still, the book holds up well, even though it was being compared in my mind to the acclaimed performed versions.
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