SPOILERS - SEPTEMBER - The Prestige

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SPOILERS - SEPTEMBER - The Prestige

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1Morphidae
Set 1, 2014, 12:21pm

I'm glad that I checked my library account for The Prestige. It wasn't there! I don't know if I imagined reserving it or if it didn't save. But it's on my reserved list now!

2MrsLee
Set 8, 2014, 11:28am

Spent the day yesterday doing nothing but reading. Reading this. Poor husband tried to talk to me a couple of times, but gave up after getting an annoyed response like, "You do know I'm reading, right?" or "I'M READING A BOOK!" Anyway, I took enough time out to throw some sausages and slaw in a pan and cook them for dinner, I consider that I sacrificed enough.

This book. Mesmerized me. I loved the movie, but aside from the visual of the actors as the main players (no hardship on me to see Hugh Jackman the whole time I'm reading), the book is really nothing like it, and yet, the movie is a condensation of all the tension and emotions in the book.

In both, I wanted to pick sides, to feel that one was good, and the other bad, but the author never let that happen. I wanted to like both, and ended up being rather horrified by both. At the end of the book, the puzzle was solved for the historical part, but questions abounded. In fact, I tossed and turned in bed thinking, and thinking, and thinking about it. And trying not to think about it. It has been a long time since a book has affected me in that way.

So the main questions, which make me shudder away from thinking about them are:

Why could the young man still hear the boy's voice?

Why was there no decay in the Prestiges? Did all of them still have a voice in Angier's head?

How did the electricity and shelving get installed? Descendants? Angier and his servants?

Why was the figure still in the vault? Did the partial Prestige get into a body, or miss? Or did he keep transporting himself into other Prestiges? Or did the first one somehow make him unable to die?

And here's the creepiest of all which my mind runs from. Was Kate's father a Prestige figure, meaning, was he her great-great grandfather? Is that why he was erratic, and did that to the boy, and left the family?

Bleeeeuuuurrrg. I have to find something happy, straightforward and light to read now.

3pgmcc
Set 8, 2014, 4:24pm

>2 MrsLee: Bleeeeuuuurrrg. I have to find something happy, straightforward and light to read now

Perhaps Cloud Atlas?

;-) That one would have your mind spinning as well.

I enjoyed The Prestige too and, like you, did not find the differences between the film and the book a problem. There was a whole strand of back-story missing from the film, but that was to make it fit the time available.

4Morphidae
Set 9, 2014, 9:38am

I'm really looking forward to starting this! Will be next week at the earliest though.

5Bookmarque
Set 9, 2014, 9:40am

I started it today. Probably the 3rd time for me. I love how the language breakdown in Alfred's book messes with your head. I had to remind myself what I meant when I said that. Was she married to me or the other me? Stuff like that.

6MrsLee
Set 9, 2014, 10:55am

>5 Bookmarque: Yes, because of the movie, I caught that right away, I'm wondering if I would have if I hadn't seen the movie first? Or at least, whether I would have known what it meant?

I appreciated that it was very clear those reporting events were not necessarily reliable witnesses, even though they were writing in their own journals. Each had a different take on their role in the feud.

7Bookmarque
Set 10, 2014, 9:36am

So did Angiers manage to reunite his two halves? It seems so, but why was he trapped in the crypt? The description of him going off into the snow didn't say he was transparent or whatever.

And when he asked Andrew if he was going to leave with Nicky's body or stay, did he imply that the device could reunite them as it did with Angiers? Then he'd be trapped there or something?

Oh and the handwriting on the tag bit seems to imply that Angiers the magician was the one who threw Nicky into the machine.

Am I going crazy?

8MrsLee
Set 10, 2014, 11:24am

>7 Bookmarque: "Am I going crazy?"

Yeah, that's how I feel when I try to think about it too much. The first night after reading it was a tough one with circling thoughts.

9Morphidae
Set 10, 2014, 12:26pm

Have you tried reading the plot summary in Wiki?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prestige

I found several sites that explained The Prestige but they were about the movie not the book. *pouty face*

10imyril
Set 10, 2014, 6:21pm

Just started today and I'm loving it already. As noted above, having seen the movie definitely makes it easier to understand Borden's diary, but I love how it's crafted.

11MrsLee
Set 10, 2014, 10:37pm

>9 Morphidae: I have not. Would I like it? Sometimes I prefer my questions to someone else's answers, even the authors. :)

12Morphidae
Set 11, 2014, 7:48am

>11 MrsLee: I haven't read it!

13Bookmarque
Set 11, 2014, 8:45am

The book and the movie are so different that using the movie plot summary or analysis wouldn't answer any of the questions the book poses - especially the denouement. It stands to reason though, why the film is constructed the way it is. To incorporate the full complexity of the Tesla machine in the book would be really hard to do. Plus the story in the present day would get in the way of the more dramatic story of the dueling magicians. It is key in the book though and because it's only present at the beginning and the end, it doesn't get in the way of the narrative, but adds a lot of the questions that are driving MrsLee and me crazy! Even after reading it 4 times, I still don't know.

14Sakerfalcon
Set 12, 2014, 1:10pm

I finished this last night and found it just as gripping and intriguing as the rest of you did. Loved the pitch-perfect Victorian narrative voices from Borden and Angier, and all the period detail of the backstage setting. I'm not really into stage magic or illusion but it was interesting to learn about how performers developed their acts and tried to improve on what others were doing. The main question I had was why the prestiges were left at all, when it was explained that the Tesla device physically took him apart and reassembled him in the new location (unless I misunderstood that bit). But all the other questions that MrsLee raises crossed my mind too at various times, and I wasn't able to come up with satisfactory explanations. It was a fantastic read (in all senses of the word) and I know I'll be returning to again, as I will the other books by Priest that I've read.

15imyril
Set 12, 2014, 1:27pm

Brilliant - I've just finished it, and enjoyed every minute except the abrupt stop at the end (although it seems appropriate).

>7 Bookmarque: I took the handwriting to be the same as in Angier's journal ergo Angier's rather than Kate's father, and I choose to think Kate's father simply displayed hereditary traits of instability rather than being a prestige...

...but I've no answers on the rest of the questions. I also wasn't sure whether the young man (Andrew?) would continue to hear/feel his twin / Nicky's voice/presence - it seemed it disappeared whenever they were in physical contact, but came back as soon as they were separated. So presumably Angier became a very haunted man - his comments on his depression when he first tested the device might be an understatement...

>14 Sakerfalcon: I think the inert prestige left behind in the device can only be described as a bug ;) Tesla wasn't expecting it, and it initially made him think the device wasn't working at all. It puts Mr Alley's reluctance to put his cat through it into a new light - he knew he'd still have a cat, but... his poor cat!

Great read. I've not read any Priest before, but I'll certainly seek out more.

16Sakerfalcon
Set 12, 2014, 1:31pm

>15 imyril: If you want a recommendation, I absolutely loved The islanders, which is written like a gazeteer to a fictional archipelago but through whose entries a story emerges. It's very cool and made me want to travel to an island when I read it!

17imyril
Set 12, 2014, 2:42pm

>16 Sakerfalcon: oooh. We're planning to go to the Hebrides later this year - sounds like The Islanders should come with us!

18MrsLee
Set 12, 2014, 10:36pm

>16 Sakerfalcon: AND now The Isanders is on my rather lengthy wishlist. Maybe I'll get it for my daughter for Christmas, then snitch it from her like I did The Prestige.

19pgmcc
Set 13, 2014, 6:10pm

I understand The Islanders is related to Priest's earlier books, The Affirmation and The Dream Archipelago.

Runs away sniggering at the thought that the purists will now feel they have to read these two books first. Hee! Hee! Hee!

20MrsLee
Set 13, 2014, 10:00pm

>19 pgmcc: Satan.

I'm doing something a bit out of order, but imyril and I started talking about The Prestige in her thread, after I read her excellent review of it, then I thought that conversation would be good here, so I'm going to copy and paste it her, but if imyril objects, I'll delete whatever she asks me to.

imyril's first review post #19 in her thread, here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/179802#4845958

"Hurray for Morphy's Mighty Reads! This was a perfect palate cleanser, and joins Tigerman, The Shining Girls and The Thirteenth Tale at the top of my new reads of the year so far.

It really doesn't matter if you've seen the film - the book adds to the dark tale of 2 feuding Victorian illusionists with a modern-day wrapper revealing how the feud has trickled down into subsequent generations. In fact, there was enough additional depth and variation in the Victorian sections that I actually felt that I could be 'spoilt' - the end of the book and the fates of pretty much all the key characters is different here.

Told largely through the diaries of the two magicians, this is a study of obsession and animosity. All is fair in magic and war - they disrupt one another's performances, interfere (if not always intentionally) with love lives and ultimately threaten each other's lives. With asides on the cost of living a life of lies, what is considered acceptable to sacrifice for your art, and magic as both illusion and as science we haven't discovered yet, this is heady stuff, told with Gothic glee. I'm not particularly interested in stage magic; it really didn't matter - I was hooked from the start.

My only discomfort is the same one I had with the film - the awful position it puts its female characters in, especially Sarah Borden (although she is practically invisible in the book - her sad storyline was written into the film, it seems, as an attempt to explore consequences that are implicit in the book, although there's a strong suggestion that she and Olivia are unaware of what Borden is up to, unbelievable as that seems). In the book, Angier is not a widower and he visibly behaves badly with his string of affairs and long-suffering wife (although given the film kills her off in the opening sequence, it's open to debate whether she's getting shorter shrift here).

Either way, we're strictly in a world in which peripheral, poorly-treated women must always play third fiddle to the true focus of the magicians' lives: their career and each other.

I've docked it half a star for the abrupt ending - it's not that I necessarily wanted more answers (unlike Acceptance I didn't mind being left with a host of implications and questions), but it did feel like it just stopped."

My response:

"I think the portrayal of women was very true to what this story was about, the overwhelming obsession these men had with their craft and themselves. It's funny, because of the movie, even though Sarah was barely mentioned in the book, she always had a vivid place in my mind while reading. I thought the movie did a terrific job of showing the possible consequences for her in her situation in those times. It was also interesting that Angier chose to be completely honest with his wife."

Imyril's response:

"Oh, agreed - this is one of those aspects that bothers me in the sense of makes me sad, not angry or less appreciative.

It's a firm favourite film, but I have always felt awful on Sarah's account and the book didn't improve on this (I didn't expect it to), although at least she was spared the breakdown and suicide. I find that part of the film very distressing, although again it feels a truthful exploration of the implications. But it's no fun being a work widow, and the level of deception Borden executes is objectively horrifying. I took some comfort that here Sarah and Olivia genuinely seemed oblivious.

My response:

"And yet, there was one little sentence in his journal about what it did to Sarah, only, he never explains it. That is one where the two I's have a bit of a disagreement about how much to write, so that made me wonder."

21Sakerfalcon
Set 15, 2014, 1:09pm

>19 pgmcc: I read The islanders without having read the earlier books, and survived. Of course, subsequently I found The dream archipelago had added itself to Mount Tbr ...

>20 MrsLee: I think the book showed very convincingly that everything got thrown under the bus when it came to the feud. Wives, children, their own health - it's a very stark illustration of the lengths that obssession will drive people to. And of course, because we primarily see the action through the men's own writings, we don't exactly get a balanced view, despite some retrospective regret. I felt rather sorry not only for the wives but for the assistants without whom the illusions couldn't have worked - that must have been a pretty stressful job as I can't imagine either man being easy to work for.

22darrow
Out 5, 2014, 12:45pm

I also loved The Prestige. The Victorian English was very convincing. I even learned a new word : horripilation.

Some questions remain. The main one for me is why did Borden continue to insist that he did not have a twin even though he was fighting for his life. He was about to have a knife plunged into his chest by Angier. If I was him I would have been shouting "Yes I admit it! I have a twin. Now you know my secret let me go!".

23Bookmarque
Out 5, 2014, 5:48pm

I got a whiff of the twins not seeing themselves as two people in the same way non-twins do. Some kind of psychosis or something maybe along those lines kept him from saying anything. Plus, as my husband so often says, it's TV (well, fiction in this case).

24darrow
Out 6, 2014, 6:03am

Interesting idea. That would explain it.

Yes, it's only fiction but when books and movies introduce outrageous ideas that have to be believable within the context of the framework they create. The Prestige doesn't quite achieve this, in my opinion.

25Bookmarque
Out 6, 2014, 8:38am

Yeah well, I don't think it has to. It's fantasy really, I mean sure, Tesla was a real person and invented a lot of things from the very usable to the merely entertaining, but in this situation the invention is clearly a fictional stretch. Because of that I let certain things go that would be inappropriate in a straight up historical fiction or non-fiction book about the same subject.

26darrow
Out 6, 2014, 9:34am

That Tesla could invent a replication machine I can accept but the idea has to be taken forward logically. Would he really have produced the greatest invention known to mankind because a stage magician asked him to and then kept it secret, leaving no record of it? Maybe that would make an interesting epilogue.

I realise that this level of believability is not necessary for most readers. I'm just made that way. :-D

27Bookmarque
Editado: Out 6, 2014, 9:36am

I admit I did think of that as well; why would Tesla waste it? But knowing a bit about the real guy, it seems he didn't have the sharpest business acumen in the way that Marconi and Edison did. That could account for the lapse (oversight? stupidity?) and I think Priest did inject some of that by illustrating Tesla's financial straights and how he had to flee creditors.

28Morphidae
Out 10, 2014, 9:53pm

Oh, man. I'm finally getting this read and it's really good. I'm popping back and forth in the book re-reading portions to really understand what's happening. Fun.

I just finished the part where Borden almost got Algiers drowned in the Underwater trick.

29MrsLee
Out 10, 2014, 11:30pm

Glad to hear from you on this, Morphy. I was hoping you would enjoy it.