I figured you've heard me complaining about this one enough that it's about time I gave you my review of it. I read this a year and a half ago, and the memory is still fresh in my mind. *shudder*
In The Phantom of Manhattan,
acclaimed, bestselling suspense novelist Frederick Forsyth pens a
magnificent work of historical fiction, rife with the insights and
sounds of turn-of-the-century New York City, while continuing the
dramatic saga which began with Gaston Leroux's brilliant novel The Phantom of the Opera...
than two decades have passed since Antoinette Giry, the mistress of the
corps de ballet at the Paris Opera, rescued a hideously disfigured boy
named Erik from a carnival and brought him to live in the labyrinthine
cellars of the opera house. Soon thereafter, his intense, unrequited
love for a beautiful chorus girl set in motion a tragic string of
events, forcing him to flee Paris forever. Now, as she lies dying in a
convent, Madam Giry tells the untold story of the Phantom and his
clandestine journey to New York City to start anew, where he would
become a wealthy entrepreneur and build the glorious Manhattan Opera
House...all so he could see his beloved, now a famous diva, once again.
But the outcome of her visit would prove even more devastating than
before-- and yet, would allow the Phantom to know, for the first time in
his brutal life, the true meaning of love...
MY RATING: 1 STAR
And now, my review as posted on GoodReads:
So this is what regret feels like....
Against my better judgment and the advice of everyone I've heard mention this atrocity, I went to the library and borrowed The Phantom of Manhattan.
Thank God I didn't actually waste money on buying it. I ended up reading it as fast
as I could--not because it was any good at all, but just to get it
over with as soon as possible. And I still have no clue how I managed to keep from throwing the stupid thing across the room in disgust. Unless I was paralyzed by aforesaid disgust...
I had some idea of what I was in for
just by reading that arrogant, self-righteous, jumped-up preface. After a
brief history of POTO in print, film, and stage (none of which is
really necessary, but vaguely interesting), Forsyth actually has the
nerve to insist that Gaston Leroux--without whom none of this would
even exist--got his own story wrong! Oh, hell to the NO! He then proceeds to boost his own
ego in regards to his work by picking on such trivial details from the
original such as whether or not cutting the gas from the light system
would result in instant darkness and the fact that Leroux never gives
his narrative an exact date. If an author falls to belittling another
person's work in such a manner, it's best to just drop the book and
forget it completely. Sadly, my stubborn streak wouldn't let me off the hook so easily, and I kept reading.
Now onto the rest of the book. It's told in
first person, and at first that seems like a good thing ("Hey, we'll get
to see it from a more personal point of view!"). However, except for
one chapter featuring Mme. Giry, who you'd think we'd see more of, based on the summary of the book, and two, just two, chapters narrated by
Erik himself, we're held at arms length by reporters, lawyers, carnival workers,
and the like. Who are these people to us? They're plot devices that
keep us away from the characters we really care about. Top it all off with the fact that the writing itself is completely unremarkable, and you've got serious problems.
plot is barely held together by all these faceless people! It just jumps from one seemingly random event to another! Forsyth
makes a HUGE mistake with Erik's characterization! I'm not blind to the dear Phantom's faults and flaws, but I hardly think he would keep on in this insane obsession if he'd really learned his lesson in the original. And while the ending
might--MIGHT--have been as tragic as it was intended, telling us
about it in a college lecture has exactly the opposite effect. As I read
it, the only thought in my head was "And why should I care about this?"
Quick side note before I wrap this up. I'm not Raoul's biggest fan, but was it necessary to go so far as to do that to the poor man? That's the worst case of Raoul-bashing I've ever heard of!
line: I honestly cannot recall ever hating a book outright, but this is
horrible! In addition to insulting Leroux, Forsyth botches the intended homage to his apparently idolized Andrew Lloyd Webber (and we wonder how Love Never Dies came into being?). No wonder the musical bombed in London, based off this garbage! But I will admit, I prefer a
barely-there, much abused Raoul to the gambling alcoholic Webber gave us.
And that's that. Haven't read it yet? Take the advice I didn't, and don't. If you have, then you have my sympathies.
Your humble book nerd,