Friday, June 12, 2009

Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux

phantom of the opera
gaston leroux
c. 1910
264 pages
completed 6/9/2009

read for: decades challenge, orbis terrarum challenge

*may contain spoilers*

This is another one of those books where I was nervous through the whole thing because it is held very near and dear to someone's heart. In this case, my sister, the librarian. But I am happy to report...I LIKED IT! Surprise, surprise. Something she liked that I liked, too.

Couple things that stuck out to me...

Number 1...The author kept referring to Raoul and Christine as children, so I kept imagining them to be about 14. But while I don't think they ever explicitly say what Christine's age is, Raoul has been said to be 20 or 21 years old! Young, yes, but definitely not a child. If they were really around 14, I could then understand their "secret engagement," but at 20 years could they think that was a good idea? I don't understand.

Number 2...Who was the Persian? I mean, I understand his history and connection with Erik, but did he have any kind of connection to the Opera other than that? And if not, how come no one thought it was weird that he just roamed through the Opera all the time?

Number 3...I don't 100% understand what happened at the end. After the water was rising and the Persian and Raoul were trapped in the torture chamber. I don't know how they got out. Maybe it got explained and I just didn't understand.

So. A few questions, but for the most part I enjoyed reading this. It's definitely a bit different from the musical. It's a little creepy and confusing and lots of fun. I felt lame writing that last sentence.



Sara said...

So...I finally got around to reading this post. I'm really glad you liked the book.

1) I think it depends on the age of the reader. When I first read the book, I was 9 and 20 felt *so* grown up. The last time I read it, I was 25 and I know that I'm still silly and immature a lot of the time - I was more so at 20. Now Christine and Raoul seem so *young*.

2) The Persian, as far as I know, has no connection to the Opera whatsoever. But the Opera is so freaking *big* and there are so many people wandering around, nobody bothers to stop him.

3) They got out because Christine agreed to marry Erik and so he let the water out of the torture chamber and rescued them.

If at any point you want to read a retelling of the story that includes a lot more backstory (and fits in fairly well with the original, I think), I would heartily recommend Phantom by Susan Kay. It's perhaps a little romance novel-esque in places but in general it's quite good and makes me cry about as much as the original book. And there's Persian backstory, which is always fun. I think it's out of print but I have a copy that I'd be happy to lend you.

Veronica said...

After having my spirits crushed by reading "sequals" to both "Treasure Island" and "Pride and Prejudice" I no longer read sequals or retellings of classic books that I like. But thanks for the suggestion.

Sara said...

Phantom isn't a sequel - in fact, most of the action happens before or during the events of the original book. It enhancement, a book full of missing scenes that fill in what happens offstage in Leroux's book. And it's written with a great deal of respect for and knowledge about the original work. Certainly more respect and knowledge of the source than any of the movies, or the musical (much as I love many of the movies and the musical).

But I'm biased. It's nearly as formative a book for me as the original novel, so I have a great deal of unreasonable love for it. Certainly, you need not read it if you don't want to. I do think you would like it, though.