Thoughts I Had While Reading The Princess Bride By William Goldman

What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be … well … a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad’s recitation, and only the “good parts” reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He’s reconstructed the “Good Parts Version” to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it’s about everything.

WARNING: This post will likely contain spoilers.

Genre(s): Adult, Classics, Fantasy
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release date:
July 15, 2003 (originally September 1, 1973)
Book links*:
Goodreads | Book Depository | IndieBound

*These include affiliate links, which means that if you click through and buy a book I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. [Full disclaimers here.]

  • Despite having seen the movie multiple times, I honestly don’t understand all the hype for this story. It’s an entertaining movie with very quotable lines, but yeah, I don’t know. Here we go anyway!
  • I knew this book was old and popular, but wow I didn’t realize this was the 30th anniversary edition. These introductions are pretty fun.
  • What an opening line, why isn’t it more famous?
  • If all this stuff about abridging and publishing struggles was true, I think I’d find it pretty boring, but at a meta level it’s pretty cool.
  • Dang, I have so many fond memories of my own parents reading to me and telling me stories, but none of those stories really stuck with me the way The Princess Bride sticks with young William, and truth be told I’m more than a little jealous.
  • We stan supportive teachers! They do so much for their students.
  • “You had to admire a guy who called his own new book a classic before it was published and anyone else had a chance to read it.” *snorts* Have I mentioned how much I love the commentary on publishing and authorship?
  • Huh I can’t tell if all this stuff about beautiful women cleverly sabotaging each other is feminist or the exact opposite. Maybe it’s both.
  • Okay, I don’t generally find objectification funny, but “the most ideal item yet spawned” sounds like modern gamer lingo and that cracks me up since this was originally published in the 1970s.
  • Oh hey there are pretty pictures! And they’re big enough that I can actually see them on my Kindle, sweet.
  • This really doesn’t seem like the makings of a Great Romance? Even ignoring the power imbalance, I’m not convinced they like each other, and from what I remember of the movie they don’t really get much relationship development?
  • “I do not care about ‘the boys.’ Horse loves me and that is quite sufficient, thank you.” I know that Buttercup will change her mind very very soon, but taken out of context this quote is not a bad life philosophy really.
  • Of course Westley defends her honor against the other boys and she thanks him for it, I’m still not convinced that they’re a good match.
  • The parentheticals justifying the anachronisms were funny at first, but there are so many of them and the joke is starting to get worn out. “All I can suggest to you is, if the parentheses bug you, don’t read them.” Yeahhhhhhh I’m trying, dude.
  • Buttercup’s logic is terrific: Okay sure, the farm boy has “eyes like the sea before a storm,” big deal; he’s muscular and tan, but that’s just because he works all day; his shoulders aren’t that broad and he’s not that tall … aha! The Countess must be into him because he has perfect shining-white teeth!
  • Since this book has been around for decades I can let it slide, but in general I’m not a huge fan of jealousy as the gateway to realizing you’re actually in love with someone — maybe because it implies you take them for granted until you realize you could lose them. (But what do I know.)
  • I want to believe that Buttercup is just teasing Westley by pretending not to understand this “If your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches” stuff, but there’s already so much evidence that she’s not all that smart so …
  • Hm on the one hand this would make a terrific montage, but on the other I don’t love the combination of “I need to look pretty so this boy doesn’t abandon me for some foreign girl while he’s off in America” and “if you put in effort, you can realize your preexisting potential for beauty.”
  • “… the Prince had his pleasure with many simians” sounds like bestiality tbh (hey was this before or after furries?)
  • “I must court her now.” […] “I am your Prince and you will marry me.” typical entitled heterosexual male, amirite?
  • Oh man this “dark, probably Sicilian/Spanish/Turk [i.e., foreign]” dangerous stranger archetype definitely has not aged well.
  • How I love it when authors break the fourth wall. That’s not sarcastic, Goldman is pretty good at it and ties it in well with the meta-storyline. Related: I’m Team “telling the audience what will happen next, but not exactly who or how increases the suspense” for sure.
  • “I’m a dead cookie.” um okay?
  • helloooooo tragic character backstory *settles in with popcorn*
  • oh it’s the “drowning sorrows/regrets/problems in alcohol” trope, that always ends well
  • parts of this book, like this Machine that sucks away the victim’s life, just epitomize the I DO WHAT I WANT built into writing and I don’t know how I feel about it
  • also heck no stop it leave Westley alone he just wanted to rescue his True Love dammit
  • aw Fezzik, that’s okay, I don’t know how to prepare a proper meal either. A for effort
  • “His bladelike body knifed on through the quiet streets” I see what you did there
  • “Then let’s look on the bright side: we’re having an adventure, Fezzik, and most people live and die without being as lucky as we are.”
  • “… true love is the best thing in the world, except for cough drops” hm idk, cough drops are pretty awesome.
  • I know it’s been forever since I last watched the movie (and I may have mentally conflated it with The Neverending Story for some reason) but um I don’t remember any of this stuff with the Zoo of Death or Miracle Max?
  • … oh I do remember the “perfect breasts” line, though I think either they reworded it in the movie or I’m misremembering it
  • I have a lot of opinions on endings, especially fake-outs, but honestly I’m not sure how I feel about this one. it’s a little drawn out, but also hits a lot of satisfying notes, and afdljs;lkawjfeiok;sjdflkasjdklas idk okay
  • *checks whether there is an actual sequel* good good, I didn’t want there to be one. “Buttercup’s Baby” and the preceding explanation are fun and all, but honestly I don’t think I’d get through another book like this one.

Apologies to any diehard Princess Bride fans I may or may not have offended! 😅 Are there any other books that you’d like to see my thoughts on? Or any books that you think I should read in general?

12 thoughts on “Thoughts I Had While Reading The Princess Bride By William Goldman

  1. XD XD XD Oh all your sarcastic comments are so funny. XD The only knowledge I have about this is the one time I was forced to watch the movie at a sleepover when I was like 8, and I just remember being very annoyed and confused. XD So, good for you cuz I don’t think I could get through the book at all. XD XD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. haha thanks Heather! as far as I recall the book is actually pretty similar to the movie since the author wrote the screenplay, though I’ll admit I think I found the movie more interesting because it was less work for my brain 😅 definitely would not have been able to follow the plot when I was 8 but I vaguely recall watching it in school, probably during those last days of classes when the teachers didn’t know what else to do with us haha.

      Like

  2. I love the review! The Princess Bride is something I’ve never watched or read. I guess it’s something I should give a go at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As much as I adore this book, I definitely was cackling at your thoughts, I had a few of the same myself, and I love getting someone’s reactions to a book! Now….go read Water Babies so we can cry at the sexism together.

    Liked by 1 person

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