As You Wish by Cary Elwes

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A very sweet book about a deliciously sweet movie

Well, this book is sweet. The movie is sweet, so the book has to be sweet, right?

English actor Cary Elwes, who has been in several of my favourite movies, has written As You Wish, his behind-the-scenes account while filming The Princess Bride.

What a delicious movie The Princess Bride is. A movie for all generations, and one you can watch again and again. Don’t let the name fool you – it has pirates, sword fighting, humour, many cameos, a giant and most importantly, true love.

There are also some classic lines from the movie that you may have heard – “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die” and “Inconceivable!” being two that pop to mind.

Elwes’ has recorded an audio version of the book, which is what I listened to. He has such a plummy English accent, which quite curiously deepens from about chapter four onwards. Maybe he had a cold?

His anecdotes are quite drawn out – and all in a terribly English, jovial, kind of way – which some may find grating (sometimes I did. Just get to the point, Cary, please!) but at other times it was all just so Westley, his character from the movie.

This was the first movie for Robin Wright, who is the perfect Buttercup – a young girl who falls in love with the poor farm boy, Westley. He goes missing for five years, seeking his fortune in order to marry her and returns when he learns she is about to marry another.

The book gives away many secrets from the film, but it doesn’t really dish too much dirt. Maybe there wasn’t that much dirt to dish? Other actors, including Billy Crystal and Carol Kane, have recorded their own sections, and it’s lovely to hear their contributions too. The anecdotes about Andre the Giant are great fun, Elwes’ stories about learning to sword fight are interesting, but maybe he goes on a bit too long about his broken toe?

If you can handle a short story told in a long way, with serious repetition, and you love the movie, well, there’s no doubting you’ll love the book. If you haven’t seen the movie or don’t like it, then there’s no real reason to read this. I love the movie, and I’m glad I’ve heard Elwes’ account of his time on set.

In 2012, the movie celebrated it’s 25th anniversary, with the cast gathered in New York. What fun that would have been – there really seems to be great affection and a wonderful camaraderie between them. And apparently Cary and Robin really liked each other, and will always be close. Yet again, so sweet!

Having only heard the book, I think reading it would have been much harder to deal with, as the writing style is very simplistic. But listening to Elwes’ wonderful voice made it much more bearable. And he does a hell of a range of voice impersonations too! Brilliant!

3 thoughts on “As You Wish by Cary Elwes

    • He never says it, but the woman who says the title of the book at the beginning pronounces it Cary Elle-wes – like the names Elle and Wes joined together. You’d hope she would have it right!

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