Arcadia LBC – The Princess Bride – Write Up

Arcadia LBC

Venue: Arcadia Bar
Date:  Sunday, 19th of August 2012
Time:  5pm – 7pm


* * * * * S P O I L E R S * * * * *
* * * * * S P O I L E R S * * * * *
 * * * * * S P O I L E R S * * * * * 

BLURB (from Amazon)

Once upon a time came a story so full of high adventure and true love that it became an instant classic and won the hearts of millions.

What reader can forget or resist such colorful characters as

  • Westley . . . handsome farm boy who risks death and much, much worse for the woman he loves
  • Inigo . . . the Spanish swordsman who lives only to avenge his father’s death
  • Fezzik . . . the Turk, the gentlest giant ever to have uprooted a tree with his bare hands
  • Vizzini . . . the evil Sicilian, with a mind so keen he’s foiled by his own perfect logic
  • Prince Humperdinck . . . the eviler ruler of Guilder, who has an equally insatiable thirst for war and the beauteous Buttercup
  • Count Rugen . . . the evilest man of all, who thrives on the excruciating pain of others
  • Miracle Max. . . the King’s ex-Miracle Man, who can raise the dead (kind of)
  • The Dread Pirate Roberts . . . supreme looter and plunderer of the high seas and, of course,
  • Buttercup . . . the princess bride, the most perfect, beautiful woman in the history of the world.

S. Morgenstern’s timeless tale–discovered and wonderfully abridged by William Goldman–pits country against country, good against evil, love against hate. From the Cliffs of Insanity through the Fire Swamp and down into the Zoo of Death, this incredible journey and brilliant tale is peppered with strange beasties monstrous and gentle, and memorable surprises both terrible and sublime.

Well, this was the most affable discussion we’ve ever had as a book club – across any of the clubs.
It was also the shortest.
I’ve mentioned a few times that I have a perverse attachment for books that polarise the book club. Where there are huge variances in the reading of a scene; the behaviour of particular characters; or overarching themes; it practically guarantees a good meaty discussion.*
We might retrace our steps a time or two, but it’s a very satisfying process overall. Usually there are one or two people pointing out a particular viewpoint that totally contrasts with what the majority of the group think; sometimes the club is divided squarely down the middle with both sides wondering how the other could possibly get it so wrong. We get a bit loud, our humour becomes a touch risqué and our language tends to find the gutter and start digging to new lows.
It’s highly entertaining stuff and you’re all more than welcome to join in!
However, every now and again, we’ve experience rare moments of perfect unity during a meet up. Every single person agrees on almost every particular point.
True, it’s a beautiful thing to behold; but it terrifies me to my core!
It’s like a romance with no inevitable obstacle to be overcome or a thriller with no resolution.
There’s just no story when everyone agrees. No passion. No challenges that send us off on weird random tangents. Just…nods. Smiles. And the realisation that you might just make it home for a bath before Downton Abbey after all.
Our chat about The Princess Bride was one such meeting.
It all started off so well.
We were divided into two camps – those who had seen/were aware of The Princess Bride film and those who’d never heard of it before.
Those who had seen it, found it to be a more detailed version of the film – enhancing details here, adding a touch there. One or two ever found that they had to re-read sections in order to overcome their visual knowledge of the tale.
We agreed that reading a book styled after a TV series or film can also be an odd experience as you can’t help but visualise everyone and everything as they are depicted on the screen. For that reason, I tend to prefer to read a book before I see an adaptation of it, to allow my mind free reign with the images and concepts. Here however, we had all enjoyed the film so much that it was a welcome enhancement to the story.
Obviously, it’s a very visual read that lends itself to the screen. In fact, someone pointed that the text is perhaps overtly concerned with making visual links. Tying in to the film so utterly might have impaired the writing slightly. Certainly those scenes or character backstory that were unique to the book were most enjoyable for us. 
Most importantly – each of our familiar and beloved characters gets an extended back story. I particularly enjoyed reading about Fezzik. While I loved Andre the Giant’s portrayal in the film; Fezzic becomes a more meaningful character when you understand why he plays his rhyme games, or why his friendship with Inigo Montoya is such an important point of stability for him.
Upon mentioning Inigo, a few of us began to chant ‘My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die’ over and over again while the uninitiated stared at us, indulgently at first, then with something approaching concern.
Those who had never seen the film or had never heard of it should have had a far trickier time during the book, surely?
One or two of the group actually weren’t aware that this was going to be a comedy read. They started it as a ‘straight’ book and it wasn’t until they spotted something really daft – like naming countries Guilder and Florin – that they realized the spoof element. 
The whole ‘fake’ author thing also greatly amused us as a whole. Even those who had watched the film found it daft beyond measure and hilarious. 
“Once I realised it was nonsense I got on much better with it!”
For the most part, everyone responded favourably. The plot is deceptively simple and time is taken to ensure that each character – whether a primary protagonist or someone we only meet once – has a unique voice and perspective.
So is it a spoof book? Or can it be stand alone, be regarded as independent from the film?
We say yes!
Those who hadn’t watched the film all (if I’m remembering properly) planned on doing so but enjoyed the book itself as an entertaining distraction from the world. Summer didn’t exactly over-awe this year, so it was lovely to have somewhere sunny and shiny and fun to escape to on grey days. 
*Fortunately we’re all grown ups – despite ourselves it sometimes feels – so we can offer differing opinions without falling out or making anyone feel diminished or foolish!

Thanks very much to Becky for the Banana cake – deeelish!!  

For further details, please email me at or tweet me @LeedsBookClub!

Contact the bar on @ArcadiaBar

And feel free to let us know your thoughts using #ArcadiaLBC!

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