📚 As You Wish by Cary Elwes

Reviewed Dec. 2018

Narrators: Cary Elwes, Christopher Guest, Carol Kane, Norman Lear, Rob Reiner, Wallace Shawn, Robin Wright, Billy Crystal
Length: 7 hours 1 minutes
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio⎮2014

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The Audiobookworm's Review

Rating: 5 Stars

5★ Audiobook⎮This is my favorite nonfiction audiobook ever. Granted, I haven't heard a ton of them, but this was still spectacular. I intend to hear more nonfiction audios in the future and if they are all like this, I would be thrilled. It's a perfect combination of two things I love: The Princess Bride and behind-the-scenes info. Some people think behind-the-scenes glimpses ruin the magic of a story, and I could see that happening for some people, but I crave any tidbit of insider information I can get my hands on and As You Wish was full of it.

The Princess Bride is my second favorite movie of all-time (following Harold and Maude). I remember the first time I saw it like it was yesterday. It's a flashbulb memory seared in my mind. As You Wish took me back in time to that night. For seven hours, I listened with fondness as Carey Elwes, Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner, Robin Wright, and other members of the cast and crew relayed their memories of the filming and made me feel as if I had been part of the process.

Wallace Shawn, a favorite actor of mine, had one of the most surprising revelations in the book. Apparently, he was the second choice to play Vincini, after Danny Devito, and the knowledge of that greatly impacted his performance and experience with the film. This is both amusing and surprising because I cannot imagine anyone other than Wallace Shawn playing that part. His was one of the most iconic performances in the film. Another surprising revelation may not be surprising to some people who were around during the time of the movies original release. Apparently the film was not a huge box office success as I had assumed, but barely broke even. It received positive critical acclaim, but was not marketed correctly to the public, given its genre bending nature.

I think I enjoyed Rob Reiner's anecdotes the most. Reiner has always been an entertaining figure to me and his part in this book was no different. I've always known that he directed the film, but hearing of his experience with it added another dimension to that knowledge. Directors have such a significant impact on a film, but they are rarely recognized or credited as much as the actors. I'm glad I was able to hear Reiner's takes on The Princess Bride. It was also amusing to hear William Goldman's anxiety about the project. It's understandable, but still hard to fathom, knowing what a classic the film has now become.

After finishing this audiobook, I rewatched The Princess Bride. Now possessing the many insights As You Wish had provided, it was like watching it with new eyes. For example, knowing that Carey was really knocked unconscious when Christopher Guest (Count Rugen) hits him over the head after the fire swamp scene, made me feel like I was a Hollywood insider, possessing behind the scenes knowledge of the shoot. As You Wish was full of little nuggets like that and I found it absolutely thrilling! This experience was made even better because I watched the film with my younger cousin who was seeing it for the first time. I was able to regale her with all of the knowledge and insights I had just gleaned from As You Wish and she was thoroughly impressed.

Narration review: I know I've said this like three times already, but the best part of the audiobook was the narration. This was one of the best listening experiences I have ever had. As You Wish was narrated by a full cast and it was astonishing to see how many of the cast and crew members joined in on this project. The book itself was written by Cary Elwes, but he was joined by nearly all of the major players for the audiobook's production. That says a lot about their relationship and feelings toward this movie.

As a fan, it was surreal to hear the actual voices of Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Rob Reiner, Carol Kane, and Billy Crystal coming through my speaker, chapter after chapter. I can't put into words what a cool experience this was. Because of the narration and the participation of so much of the cast, the audiobook has two legs up on the book version of As You Wish. If you're a fan of the Princess bride, this audiobook is a must listen♣︎

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