Published by Dover Publications on April 22nd 2004
Genres: Fiction, Love & Romance, Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Social Themes
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Google Play | Create Space | Lulu | Kobo | Smashwords
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.
But I’m not too sure why. The movie and live stage performances are so much more enthralling, though, as far as I can remember, they stick pretty closely to the storyline laid out in the book. The musicals bring what the book fails to give you: music.
It’s hard to resist the lovely notes caressing your eardrums with the sweet dissonance of the song named after the title of the book and musical, “Phantom of the Opera.” Many people think dissonance is a bad thing, unpleasant to the ears, but for anyone who’s familiar with the PTO soundtrack, you’ll know that Andrew Lloyd Webber is a musical genius.
And let’s not get started on the actors and actresses for Gerard Butler makes the dangerous romance of the Phantom thrive, drawing you into the symphony of his voice. Don’t pretend like he doesn’t give you shivers and stuff, because it’s not only his voice that makes the scene. It’s also his acting that sucks you in and makes you feel as if Christine should be with the Phantom despite his shortcomings (which are pretty serious, but I won’t spoil that little tidbit for those of you who haven’t seen/read it yet).
Although I did find this book rather dull, it still provided the skeleton that Andrew Lloyd Webber needed to build beautiful music on, provided the brilliant movie director an eternal muse of literature, and paved the road for two of my favorite musicals. (If you haven’t seen it yet, please, please, please, watch Love Never Dies.)
Let me interrupt myself for a moment to say that although there were some characters who were static (like the new owners of the opera house and the star performer who is a total prima donna), their roles are not only entertaining and humorous, but feel geniuine and believable. The plot of this story is riddled with dilemmas of the heart and mind as Christine struggles to decide who she should love as her own feelings are confused by the musical seduction of the Phantom, but also by the crimes he has committed, his role as an outcast from society, and highly manipulative behavior. To put it simply, Phantom is very much like The Beauty and the Beast. So, should she choose the obvious, rich and handsome man? Or should she stay with the one who has worked very hard to earn her affection although he may be unattractive and shunned by society?
If the way Phantom sings her name doesn’t break your heart, it might be possible that you are totally heartless. I basically die every time I get to this part, and let me tell you, the staged musical is just as beautiful.
Are you crying yet? Well, if not, you should be. Or, at the very least, you should be downloading or going to Netflix to watch Phantom in action right now. And with this, I bid you adieu and hope that I have guided you in the right direction, which is to the Phantom’s lair where his story and song will haunt you with its ethereal beauty.