June 21, 2012

The Prestige by Christopher Priest (audiobook): Review

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the prestige coverBack in 2006 there were two magician movies: The Prestige and The Illusionist. I know I saw one of them but had no idea which one. Seriously 2006, two magician movies with similar titles? What were you thinking? So, when I downloaded The Prestige, the audiobook, I was unsure if this book-turned- movie was the one I had seen and didn’t want to look it up in case it made me remember the plot and ruin the book.

That was a long way to get to the point: The Prestige wasn’t the movie I saw. It was The Illusionist. Very different stories, by the way.

The Prestige by Christopher Priest starts with Andrew, a reporter, finding a Lady (with a capital L), Kate Angier, who knows all about his birth family. Or more accurately, she finds him. Andrew was adopted when he was three and doesn’t want anything to do with that part of his life. However, she has some interesting information, including an explanation for his belief he is a twin despite the fact the all records say he isn’t.

It all goes back to a feud between their ancestors, two magicians. They aren’t Harry Potter type magicians, they’re the “Abracadabra! Is this your card?” variety. The fight starts when Andrew’s ancestor Alfred Borden catches Rupert Angier doing something he thinks is unscrupulous and makes a Scene. During the commotion, Borden unknowingly injures Angier’s wife and causes a family tragedy. Angier makes it his goal to ruin Borden’s career and does so by interrupting his act whenever he can. Borden does the same in retaliation. This goes on for years, the pattern of pranks and one-upmanship continues until Angier creates an illusion so amazing Borden must know its secret.

Most of the story is revealed in the two diaries the magicians kept. I like this device; through the diaries I came to sympathize with both men but also could see that they act like arses most of the time. Neither is perfect and strangely enough both want to end the feud, though neither one has the balls to do it. Borden hints at a secret to the New Transported Man, the trick that drove Angier crazy enough to create his own version, In A Flash, a trick that messes with the laws of nature. Up until this point, the story was fairly straight forward but it takes a turn to the science-fiction genre. It gets weird. Not that this is a bad thing. I was hooked by the story right up until the end.

So…the end. There is a scene at the end where Andrew makes a discovery so bizarre, I didn’t know whether to laugh or shudder. It’s funny and creepy all at the same time. Also, I was left with more questions than answers. What did Kate know? How could she not know? I dunno… I’m going to be thinking about this for awhile.

PS- I looked up the movie information and I’m not sure I want to see it. They seem to have “Hollywoodized” it. A Lot. So many people die.

About the Audio: It only took me two days to listen to the book even though it wasn’t a small book. In part, I think it was Simon Vance’s narration that kept me listening. This is my second Simon Vance audio. He did an excellent job. The voices of women and children were convincing and not weird. He made subtle changes to show the age of a character. He even gave Andrew a slightly different accent, from the rest of the men.

Ratings:

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19 comments :

  1. The Prestige is one of my favourite books - it is all so clever.

    I have seen both the movies you mention. I thought The Illusionist was quite average, but The Prestige is outstanding. They have changed the plot a bit (simplfied it) but I thought it was well done and I liked the fact that I could watch the movie without knowing how it would end, despite having read the book just a few weeks earlier. I recommend watching it.

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    1. Ok, Jackie, I'll keep an open mind. I'll have to have a look for it.

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  2. I saw both movies but don't remember too much about either one. I didn't realize this one was based on a book.

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    1. Neither did I and I only read it because I realized it had been a movie.

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  3. I've seen both movies and liked The Prestige A LOT! I heard the book is different though so I'm interested to read it. I do recommend the movie though because it was really enjoyable with a twist ending which you may or may not know about if they changed it from the book.

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    1. I'll have to look for it. It does have Hugh Jackman after all.

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  4. I saw The Prestige for sure. I think ;-) I enjoyed the movie I saw, and I remember it was based on a book (Is The Illusionist based on a book?) and that I should read the book. But I haven't yet. Maybe because I don't know which book to read!

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    1. The Illusionist is partly based on a short story, but I've read the short story it's based on and there's very little similarity between the two.

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    2. Thanks for answering, Amanda! I had no idea it was a short story.

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  5. I love The Illuuuuuuusionist. I also saw The Prestige and it was honestly pretty damn clever. Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, and David Bowie all do a great job.

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    1. I seem to remember liking it too. It was a long time ago.

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  6. I tried to read this at one point, and I really liked it until it flashed back into the older time period. Then the narration changed completely and I got bored. Still, it's itched at me for a long time, thinking maybe I want to try again. To hear Simon Vance did the audio gives me a motivation, because I really like him as a narrator!

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    1. He does an excellent job! I recommend it.

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  7. I saw The Prestige and enjoyed it. It's a movie that should have been a bigger hit than it was. I've not read the book, but if you and Jackie like it maybe I will.

    The magician book I read and loved was Carter Beats the Devil which is very similar to this one, based on your description and the movie version. If you ever want to read more about magicians.....

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    1. There are a lot of magicians books aren't there?

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  8. I saw The Illusionist first and LOVED IT. I am also a huge Edward Norton fan though.

    I tried out The Prestige, the movie, and only got through 10 minutes. Ugh. Glad the book sounds much better.

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    1. I will have to look for The Prestige (movie) and give it a try.

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  9. I haven't seen either of the movies, partly because I thought it was so bizarre that two magician movies came out at once that I just shrugged and decided to avoid them both. I do love Edward Norton, though, and keep thinking I need to watch The Illusionist.

    The book sounds interesting. Funny that you didn't know which one you watched!

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  10. I loved both movies, but they sort of merge together in my mind. I think I would like this book, especially with Simon Vance reading.

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