Skip to Content

Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

The Phantom of the Opera

Author: Leroux, Gaston
Originally Published in English: 1911
Publisher: HarperCollins

The Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux I think the majority of people have at least an idea of what The Phantom of the Opera is about. It’s been made into countless movies, a musical, etc etc etc. The Paris Opera House in the 19th century is “haunted” by what everyone believes is a ghost, but is really just a disfigured man who has taken to living in the Opera House. The Opera Ghost falls in love with Christine, a soprano who sings at the Opera House, and kidnaps her, resulting in her lover, Raoul, hunting down the Phantom.

I’ve seen the musical, and I saw the movie that was an adaptation of the musical, so I went into this book knowing what to expect in the story. I found that a lot was similar to the main story for the musical. Some of the characters roles, however, had been changed fairly significantly – Madame Giry, for example, in the novel is a concierge who looks after those sitting in the boxes, whereas in the musical she’s a choreographer of the ballet (and in the movie she also saved the Phantom from a circus, and brought him to live at the Opera House). In the movie and musical, Giry is the one to bring Raoul to the Phantom’s house below the Opera House, whereas in the book there’s a completely different character – the Persian – who knew the Phantom from before he established himself at the Opera House.

The Persian was definitely my favourite character in the book. Not only because I hadn’t expected him at all in the book, but partly because his story is the closest we get to learning about the Phantom’s past.

This is my first book for the RIP II Challenge. After reading this book and watching a television special on Ambrose Small (the ghost who haunts the Grand Theatre in London, ON), I’m thinking I may add a book about Small to my RIP list. It would certainly be good follow up to The Phantom – both relating to ghostly stuff in theatres… it might be fun. :)

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 2:45 pm September 3, 2007.
Category: Classics, Gothic
Book Author(s):

  • Nymeth

    I’ve owned this book for years, and yet I never got around to reading it. Your review is encouraging – perhaps I’ll add it as a RIP extra if I have the time.

  • Petunia

    This title is on my list for the RIP II Challenge as well. I love the movie so I can’t wait to get started with the book. Thanks for the great review.

  • Court

    Nymeth – Haha, that sounds like me – owning books but never getting around to reading them. :) Even if you don’t read it for the RIP challenge, you should try to read it at some point in the future. It’s a fairly quick, easy read, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

    Petunia – I hope you like the book! Can’t wait to read your review of it!!

  • Carl V.

    I loved reading Phantom of the Opera, especially after seeing the musical a few times. The version I read had a large introductory chapter about the actual Opera House that gave such a sense of reality and history to the story. I have read reviews of others who weren’t as impressed with the story, but I loved it and especially enjoyed the way it gave more dimension to the various characters. If you liked Leroux’s writing I highly recommend The Mystery of the Yellow Room and The Perfume of the Lady in Black.

    Haven’t heard of Small, but I am certainly curious now, thanks!!!

  • Court

    Carl – Small is a local legend. He owned a bunch of theatres in Ontario, and randomly disappeared one night. That was in the early 1900’s. He’s been haunting the theatre in the city I grew up in since then. I never really researched it since then, but now my curiousity has been piqued. I’ll definitely look into those other books. :)

  • Heather (errantdreams)

    This being me, I’ve skipped the original and gone straight to Colette Gale’s saucy erotic interpretation, “Unmasqued.” *grin* I must be the only person I know of who’s never actually seen Phantom of the Opera.

  • Clarisse

    Its sad that the Persian was underappreciated in the movie and the musical. :(

  • Lisa

    The Persian was my favourite character when I read the book. I haven’t seen the newest Phantom movie–only the old Lon Chaney & Claude Rains versions.

  • Marina

    Lots of people reading the classics for this challenge! I think that this is one of my husband’s favorite books, so it behooves me to get around to reading it one of these days.

  • Nancy, aka Bookfool

    I think I have a copy of Phantom of the Opera, but I’m not certain. I’ll have to look. I’ve never seen it in any form, so your review was quite informative. I used to find watching books that had been turned into movies unbearable, but now I enjoy observing the differences. Sometimes they make sense to me, but at other times I’m baffled as to why certain changes are made.

    Anyway, I’ll have to look up the ghost of Small. You must live in the Toronto area, yes?

  • Court

    Heather – haha, I think I’ll have to keep my eyes open for that book. :)

    Clarisse – I completely agree with you.

    Lisa – I haven’t seen the older versions, but I’ve been meaning to for years. Have a hard time finding them anywhere though.

    Marina – I hope you enjoy it when you do get around to reading it. :)

    Nancy – At this point in time, I live about an hour away from TO… but I grew up in London, Ontario, and he apparantely haunts the Grand Theatre in London.