For the spot of A book you love- read it again! I read The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux.
Oh, what’s that? You didn’t realize that it was an actual book? You just thought it was a Broadway show and a movie? Don’t worry- I don’t think many people realize that yes, it in fact was a book first. And it was published over 100 years ago! Wow!
This story is great because it has SO many elements from SO many genres of writing. It’s a mix of horror, thriller, mystery, romance, and there’s even a bit of humor thrown in there from time to time.
If you’ve only seen the movie or the Andrew Lloyd Webber production, then reading this book will throw a few surprises your way. Some of these are:
- This was originally published as a serialization in France, and was published in English for the first time in 1911.
- The chandelier falls into the audience and kills one person (who was set to take over the job of Madame Giry).
- Christine is Swedish and blonde (but she is definitely not having more fun.)
- The Phantom has a name. It is Erik. And this dude is seriously not ok. He’s lived all over and almost was put to death once. Also his mother didn’t love him and wouldn’t not even kiss his forehead.
- Erik’s backstory is kinda crazy. He didn’t know Madame Giry when he was young. He helped construct the new Paris opera house. He is very talented at working trap doors (one of his nicknames is the trap door lover… so…) He is a ventriloquist. He constructs elaborate tricks. For being a madman, he is actually crazy talented.
- Raoul is actually kind of a baby. He is in love and willing to die for his love, yes, but he sure is whiney about it.
- Madame Giry is like, not important at all, really. She just takes things to the Phantom’s box. That’s about it.
- THE PERSIAN! This character is completely left out of the stage and movie versions, and he is literally the MOST IMPORTANT person in the last few chapters of the book! Raoul would have died without him. Shoot, Erik would have died without him.
- The book is actually pretty dark. There is a torture chamber (and explanations of how Erik used it in the past). There is a plan to blow up thousands of people. Christine tries to kill herself. Yikes.
- Raoul’s brother, Phillipe, is part of this story. And then he dies. Womp womp.
- It is very clear that the Phantom is dead. Christine buries him and puts an ad in the paper saying “Erik is dead.” None of that “ooooh who is the rose with the black ribbon on Christine’s grave from?!??” nonsense.
- We don’t learn about the whereabouts of Christine and Raoul. Leroux says that he might try and find them if he can…
- There’s a big plot point that Christine is NOT ALLOWED to marry Raoul because of his high social standing (he is a Viscount).
- There’s no mouth kissing. In fact, Christine goes as far as to describe Erik as having a lipless dead mouth. Erik kisses her on the forehead, and she also kisses him on the forehead.
I love this story, and I have read it multiple times (I read it for the first time in 8th grade!) The language is a bit stilted since it was written so long ago, but the story really holds up. It gets so exciting and thrilling and is a real page-turner (trust me, you’ll be surprised at how this story brings you in and you can’t turn the pages fast enough!!)
I definitely recommend this book and think you should read it! Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go watch the movie version and sing every song out loud. Bye!