by Gaston Leroux
Narrator: Ralph Cosham
Length: 7 hours, 35 minutes
First published in French as a serial in 1909, "The Phantom of the Opera" is a riveting story that revolves around the young, Swedish Christine Daaé. Her father, a famous musician, dies, and she is raised in the Paris Opera House with his dying promise of a protective angel of music to guide her. After a time at the opera house, she begins hearing a voice, who eventually teaches her how to sing beautifully. All goes well until Christine's childhood friend Raoul comes to visit his parents, who are patrons of the opera, and he sees Christine when she begins successfully singing on the stage. The voice, who is the deformed, murderous 'ghost' of the opera house named Erik, however, grows violent in his terrible jealousy, until Christine suddenly disappears. The phantom is in love, but it can only spell disaster. Leroux's work, with characters ranging from the spoiled prima donna Carlotta to the mysterious Persian from Erik's past, has been immortalized by memorable adaptations. Despite this, it remains a remarkable piece of Gothic horror literature in and of itself, deeper and darker than any version that follows.
I know I said all I was going to say about this book was that “it stinks,” but I feel moved to say more. So.
You know how when you pick up a classic, you’re expecting something special? I mean, there must be a reason a classic is a classic. It’s either brilliant, to a glimpse into another time, or excellent writing, or excellent characters….there is something defining about a book that has stood the test of time.
This is why I’m left baffled by The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. I found it absolutely horrible. Feeling left out and confused, I mean, WHY? WHAT AM I MISSING? I took to the internet for insight, reviews on what is so great about this book? Why has it endured? What am I missing?
So, what’s my problem? What’s NOT my problem.
Also, probably spoilers. Watch out.
1. The Phantom/Angel/Erik/who ever he is this minute, is decidedly bi-polar. He loves Christine; he kidnaps her. He sets her free; he stalks her. He wants to keep her from Raoul; he gives her to him. MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MIND. Keep her or don’t keep her, but DO SOMETHING.
2. Christine is an idiot. She’s terrified of the Phantom, yet she pities Erik. She loves and wants to marry Raoul, but she refuses to run away with him. She is kidnapped by Erik, she continues to see him after he sets her free. I know we all want to believe everything our beloved parents tell us, but she actually believed her father would send her the Angel of Music? SHE HAS NO FACULTY TO MAKE DECISIONS AND ALSO; NAIVE!
3. The love of her life, Raoul, knows about the Phantom, knows how scared she is of him, yet allows her to continue down her crazy path instead of saving her from herself. MAN UP RAOUL AND BE A FREAKING HERO ALREADY. Get her the hell out of that Opera.
4. Gaston Leroux had brief moments of brilliance. Yet, honestly, I want to introduce him to Wilkie Collins and say here, THIS IS HOW YOU WRITE A SENSATIONAL NOVEL. He tried, Lord love him, but his plotting is haphazard and slower than a snail, his characters are one dimensional and boring, and his sense of style is poor in-comparison to my Wilkie. If you’re going to rip off someone else’s style, please DO IT WITH STYLE.
5. I’m left wondering, was ULTRA-CLINGY and BULLY SPARKLE PONY VAMPIRE EDWARD really Erik in disguise? Because dudes could be abusive lover twins.
I know this is a beloved book and I hate to bring on the wrath of its faithful fans, but Good Golly y’all, I hated it. I sped through the end. The only saving grace was Ralph Cosham’s excellent narration. He deserves better yo. Much, much better.
Care to take a stab at making me understand what’s so great about this book? I’m willing to let you try!