Title: The Prestige
Author: Christopher Priest
Publisher: A Tor Book 1995
Rating: 5/5 stars
Reading Challenges: Support Your Local Library; Page to Screen
Two 19th century stage illusionists, the aristocratic Rupert Angier and the working-class Alfred Borden, engage in a bitter and deadly feud; the effects are still being felt by their respective families a hundred years later. Working in the gaslight-and-velvet world of Victorian music halls, they prowl edgily in the background of each other's shadowy life, driven to the extremes by a deadly combination of obsessive secrecy and insatiable curiosity. At the heart of the row is an amazing illusion they both perform during their stage acts. The secret of the magic is simple, and the reader is in on it almost from the start, but to the antagonists the real mystery lies deeper. Both have something more to hide than the mere workings of a trick.
This book took much longer to read than I thought it would, but it was definitely worth it. One of my favorites for this year!!! (You know how I hate movie tie-in covers for books, but it was the only version the library had. If I bought it, I would definitely have searched for a different version.)
The book was set in two separate time periods. We meet Andrew who by the intervention of a mysterious stranger begins to learn about the history of his birth family. The book then switches to Alfred Borden's (Andrew's great grandfather) diary. We glimpse his life and struggles with the world of magic. In his diary we meet Rupert Angier (The Great Danton) with whom Borden had a long standing feud. Then the story switches back into the present and we learn more about Angier's great granddaughter, Kate. Kate and Andrew discuss the feud, what happened when Andrew (or Nicholas?) was just a toddler, and then we are again transported into the past. We are privy to Rupert Angier's diary of his life. We learn of his view of the feud and about his strive to create The New Transported Man. I won't give away any of the mystery, but I will say that there are a couple. And the promise of mystery and explanation drives the book. I read the last 150 pages in one sitting because I just had to know. Very intriguining mystery! And the ending did not disappoint.
I confess that I saw the movie before reading the book, but that is of little importance in this case. They are very different entities. The movie director, Christopher Nolan, made sure to keep the main story between the two magicians, but left out the present day appearance of Andrew and Kate. He also changed the catalyst to the magicians' rivalry. However, the spirit was there.
And the actors!!! I absolutely love Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. They show such complex emotions that they make the film. Michael Caine was amazing as Angier's ingeniur. And David Bowie as Nikola Tesla was perfect casting. My only casting issue, Scarlett Johansson as Olivia. I understand that her part in the book is limited, but she just seemed so flat on film that I didn't see her appeal to either of the men.
This was definitely a great film. Reminded me how much I love Christopher Nolan. And it was a great adaptation of the novel, even with the changes.