The back cover of my copy of The Princess Bride (presented as William Goldman's abridgment of an existing book) describes this as “a fairy tale like no other” with “fencing, fighting, torture, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, hunters, bad men, good men, beautifulest ladies, snakes, spiders, beasts, chases, escapes, lies, truths, passion and miracles.”
What’s not to love about that for a story taster?
The edition I read was the 25th anniversary one (love Nathan Burton's cover!) which has an additional forward from William Goldman in which he talks about his struggles editing the first edition of S Morgenstern's classic, but occasionally impenetrable, Florintian tale. This is a story that his father read for him as a child and his version extracts only the "good parts" as selected my his father that move the plot along at a pace.
That meant that it took thirty-five bit-champing pages to get to the start of Chaper 1, The Bride, when the “proper” story eventually kicked off and we are finally introduced to Buttercup, who will grow up to become the most beautifulest lady indeed, and how she attracts the eye of the evil Prince Humperdink, and Wesley the farmhand who loves her very much indeed.I am enormously fond of Rob Reiner's film version of this story and have watched it a number of times over the years. ('My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!') Allowing for differences between the screenplay and the book, this means that I pretty much knew what was going to happen to the characters from the outset but I don’t think that my reading experience significantly suffered as a result. The “story” of The Princess Bride is really only half of the book with the other half consisting of italicised asides from Goldman commenting on his experiences and decisions taken whilst editing Morgenstern’s original tale.
The edition I read also includes a new end section dealing with Goldman's attempts to secure the rights to abridge Morgenstern's follow up book (against stiff competition from Stephen King) called Buttercup's Baby. This includes a sample treatment of the first chapter of that book (with the usual asides from Goldman) which left too many threads dangling for my liking but does give more depth to Fezzik and Inigo's characters.
I must admit that I'd expected to read a book version of the film and I was very pleased to discover that wasn't entirely the case! At heart, this is an entertaining, swashbuckling romance and although I gather some readers find the asides extraordinarily irritating I was not one of them!