Wednesday, June 27, 2018

As You Wish by Cary Elwes and Siracusa by Delia Ephron

I don't have a lot to say about either of these books, so I've decided to pair their reviews in a single post.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes is exactly what it sounds like. It's a book about the making of the movie. While it's told from the perspective of Cary Elwes, who played the beloved role of Westley/The Dread Pirate Roberts, it also contains quite a few little tidbits from other members of the cast and the director, Rob Reiner, set off in blocks to the side of the main text.

Elwes talks about how The Princess Bride had become the script that nobody wanted to touch because nobody was sure how to classify it. Was it a fantasy? Romance? Adventure? Numerous attempts were made to sell it but they all failed, even when a famous actor got involved. It was director Rob Reiner who finally made it happen. He had a unique vision about how to handle the movie. And, clearly, his vision was the right one.

I was interested to read about how Reiner managed to get approval to make the movie, how it was cast, what it was like filming certain scenes, how Elwes injured himself, etc. As You Wish is a quick read and a fun one. There are certain things I would never have known to watch for in the movie that I'll be looking for the next time we watch it. There's also a center section with photographs from the filming of the movie and the 25th anniversary reunion.

Highly recommended - A light and delightful read. I found my aging copy of the book, so I also hope to reread The Princess Bride after finding and watching the movie. It's been probably at least 25 years since I read the book.

Siracusa by Delia Ephron was my F2F book group's May selection. I missed the discussion because of a thunderstorm (I won't drive the 30 miles if it's raining) but at that point I was nowhere near finishing the book, mostly because I was in the midst of a slump. I'd read 3 pages and set the book down, do something else (picking up the phone to read my Twitter feed was the most common thing, although sometimes I walked away to check laundry or do other busy work), pick it up again and lose interest after another 3 or 5 or 10 pages. The first 1/3 was a slog, but I can't say it's the book's fault.

Around that 1/3 mark, though, I started to become a little more interested. Siracusa is the story of two couples who go on vacation together. Finn and Lizzie were lovers, long ago, but Finn married Taylor and they have a delicately beautiful adolescent daughter named Snow. Lizzie married Michael, an older man who became famous when his first play was a big hit. He's never quite matched the success of that play.

The two couples decide to go on a trip to Italy together. Lizzie wants to go to Siracusa on the island of Sicily; Taylor chooses Rome. The visit to Rome goes well. Michael finds himself gravitating toward the company of young Snow, who finds him entertaining. Finn wanders off on his own. Taylor is a helicopter mother and is seldom away from Snow for long. Lizzie is just determined to enjoy herself. But, in Siracusa, things go wrong. A woman from back home shows up and then is found dead. Did she fall off the famous rock or was she pushed? What happens in Siracusa will change everything.

Recommended but not a favorite - I never did fall in love with Siracusa, although there came a point that I did finally stop setting it down every few pages. I didn't mind the fact that all of the characters are unlikable in some way. That doesn't bother me; I'm about story and characterization and, unless the characters are so bent that I can't be in their heads (usually, that means they're evil), I'll stick it out if they're well-enough drawn. I'm told that there was mixed reaction in my discussion group. Some liked it, some were put off by the characters. I would have loved to hear the discussion.

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  1. I loved the Princess Bride movie, but just could not get into the original book (really disappointed in that). However I've been wanting to read As You Wish- I bet I'd like it.

    1. Oh, sorry you couldn't get into the book. I loved it, but I've only read it once. It'll be interesting to see if I still feel the same about it. As You Wish is fun. I say go for it.

  2. I need to read As You Wish. It looks fun with tidbits of interesting info. It’s been forever since I’ve read the Princess Bride.
    Too bad you had to slog through the book club book and couldn’t even make it to the meeting.

    1. Definitely read As You Wish. It worked as a great slump-breaker for me. I'm so glad I ordered it. It's been forever since I read The Princess Bride, too. I loaned it to a guy who worked with my husband and he literally kept it for over a decade. I didn't even remember loaning it to him, by the time he gave it back. Actually, I'm still pretty shocked that he remembered where he got it!

      I didn't have to slog through Siracusa. I'd only read about 1/3 by the day of the meeting. I did consider abandoning it, at that point, but I was starting to enjoy it enough that I decided not to. I have no problem abandoning books if I don't think they're worth the time. I think it was the occasional mention of various sites in Italy that kept me going. I love an excuse to look things up and learn something new.


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