Back 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.