Review: Romancing the Stone

Romancing the Stone
By Catherine Lanigan writing as Joan Wilder

Any fan of both romanceRomancing the Stone and comedy should read this book. Romancing the Stone was initially written as a screen play and while it was being filmed, was adapted into a novel by Catherine Lanigan. Romancing the Stone is a romance that makes fun of romance by sticking with strong clichés and stereotypes. Because of this, it is often used as an example when learning to plot a romance novel.

In the story, Joan Wilder is a reclusive, anti-social romance novelist who lives in New York City. Joan’s older sister, Elaine, lives in Columbia, but when her husband turns up dead and she tries to flee, she winds up getting kidnapped and held for ransom in exchange for an old treasure map. Just before his death, Elaine’s husband mailed the map to Joan, who must now bring it back to free her sister. Elaine’s kidnappers are not the only ones after the map, and Joan finds herself running for her life through the Colombian jungle with the help of an American adventurer, Jack Colton. Despite the desperate circumstances, Joan finds herself falling for Jack.

Romancing the Stone is a pretty quick read. It does not go into tedious detail, and the story is pretty linear, with the exception of a few flashbacks so the reader can become more acquainted and familiar with the the characters Joan, Jack, and Elaine. The story is told from an omniscient third person point of view that freely floats between the characters in a given scene. When reading this style, I found it helpful knowing that the novel was adapted directly from the movie script. I also highly recommend reading the book and watching the movie close together. Since the book was written before the movie was finished, there were changes made to the movie script that are not seen in the book. I enjoyed both the book and the movie.


Review: The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure
By William Goldman

My favorite movie has always been The Princess Bride. I have seen itThe Princess Bride so many times, I can’t even count, and I could probably recite the movie word for word. Little to say, for a long time I had misgivings about picking up the book. I was terribly frightened that the book would ruin the movie for me. Happily, I could not be more wrong! Anybody who has seen the movie, but has yet to read the book, go to the bookstore or library right now! Anybody who has read the book, but not seen the movie, go to the video store, or rent it. For those who have never seen nor read this story, I hope you’ve enjoyed your cave, but it’s time to come out.

The Princess Bride is a so-called “good parts” abridgement of S. Morgenstern’s original story. It provides an excellent combination of humor, adventure, fantasy, and romance, along with satirical introduction and interludes by Goldman. In the story, Buttercup starts off as a farmer’s daughter, but after her true love, Westley, goes off to sea and his ship falls victim to the Dread Pirate Roberts, she becomes engaged to Prince Humperdink. Meanwhile, their country of Florin is on the brink of war with the neighboring Guilder. The story is rife with love, revenge, pirates, magic, giants, political intrigue, kidnappings, sword duels, torture, and much more!

Watching the movie, I fell in love with the characters. After reading the book, I fell in love even more. The book takes the liberty of delving into back-story that the movie doesn’t have much time to address. William Goldman is the author of both the novel and the screen play, and he did a fantastic job adapting the book to the silver screen. There are, of course, some minor changes, but nothing that changes the effect of the story. There always have to be some changes to make a screenplay fit time and budget constraints.

The only negative reviews I have ever read on this book have revolved around the author’s commentary throughout the book and the assumption that it is truthful. It is important to understand that the entire introduction and commentary by Goldman is pure satire. It is as much a part of the story in the novel as the grandfather reading The Princess Bride book to his sick grandson is part of the story in the movie. Neither would be quite the same without.

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