This isn’t strictly speaking a book that I out-right hated, but I didn’t love it. I had trouble picking something at all for this, as generally I don’t finish books that I’m not enjoying…and if I do, I don’t remember them very well. What I hate is to be underwhelmed by a book, or left feeling not satisfied by finishing it, but confused about what it was doing. This book though is really just rather confused about what it wants to be.
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
I am, as anyone who knows me even slightly can tell you, a lover of musicals. Les Miserables, the Lion King, Sweeney Todd, the Sound of Music… and the Phantom of the Opera. I read this out of interest after Andrew Lloyd Webber mentioned the original novel in an interview following the 2004 screen adaptation of his much-loved musical, starring Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum, and have to totally agree with his assessment of it – the whole book can’t make up it’s mind about what it wants to be: gothic horror, whimsical romance. The dialogue is strange, much of the characterisation is inconsistent, and the eponymous Phantom’s menace and mystique is slighlty marred by his being named and given an address – Lloyd Webber’s action of moving him back into the shadows makes all the difference for the tone of the story.
I don’t hate it – because it is interesting to investigate the origin of a musical that I’ve loved.
I don’t think the Phantom is ever quite the same once you call him Eric, though.