Book review: The Phantom of the Opera


The Phantom of the Opera

Gaston Leroux
Ralph Cosham

Published in:

Blackstone Audio




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I know, this is such a shame to be French and not to know anything really about The Phantom of the Opera, in its print form or in its performing arts versions. So I finally took time to listen to it – that’s one of the great advantages of being part of The Classics Club: you finally take time to visit works still unknown to you. I chose the audiobook format, as it was narrated by the amazing Ralph Cosham (who narrates Louise Penny’s series)

As usual, Cosham does a fantastic job, enhancing the spookiness of the topic and descriptions with his voice and intonations. He is so good! It took me a little while to remind myself I was not listening to Armand Gamache, but thankfully the style was different enough.

You probably all know about the story, so I’m not going to even summarize it here and will only talk about my impressions.

It ended up being quite spooky (wow, these underground descriptions!) , darker and sadder than I first thought it was, and now that I have read it, I’m not sure I really want to watch it. “Poor Erik!”
Even if the story starts rather simply, it becomes more complex as the story develops.

The author often addresses the reader and refers to a metatext, as if quoting real documentation. This is a classic and rather old writing effect, but still, I thoroughly enjoyed it. At least, it added some humor to the story for me.
I enjoyed more the narration and the writing than the content itself. I have heard so much about “the phantom of the opera”, I’m actually a bit disappointed. Now I wonder who really knows the book version; no doubt the Hollywood version is probably quite different, and insisting more on the romance, whereas I thought the romance part was quite nightmarish, for Christine, Raoul, and Erik.

I can only estimate myself lucky not to be able to afford a box at the opera. Who knows, I may end up being sent to Box 5… Lol

If you are considering revisiting this classic, I highly encourage you to choose the audiobook narrated by Ralph Cosham (Blackstone Audio). It is available through Hoopla, if your public library offers you this service.

VERDICT: A rather disappointing classic, but the excellent narrator made it enjoyable enough.

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How do you compare it with the films/plays/musical?
Should I watch an adaptation? Which one?


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I downloaded this audiobook from Hoopla, through my public library.

This book counted for these Reading Challenges

classicsclub   2016 audiobook challenge


8 thoughts on “Book review: The Phantom of the Opera

  1. My dad used to listen to the Phantom music all the time in the car when I was growing up, and I’ve been curious about the source material for a while now. I’ll be sure to go with the audiobook when I eventually pick it up!


  2. I only recently discovered this was a book before it was the more famous stage production. I’ve seen movie (not live stage) performances and found it a very entertaining story. The book is now in my TBR…but it will be some time before I get to it.


  3. Pingback: 2016 Audiobook challenge | Words And Peace

  4. Pingback: The Classics Club 2016-2020 | Words And Peace

  5. I liked reading the book probably more than you did, but I did come to it via the several film adaptations. It handles so many important themes–the nature and ethics of genius, the maltreatment of the disabled, the “masks” we wear, artists and their mentors, obsession (not really romance), loss of a parent–that I had to admire the creative energy of this story. Above all, it creates a memorable, haunting character, making me think again whether he deserved a place on my list of 100. The film version of the musical, starring Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum in able performances, hews quite close to the book, and is well worth watching. The Lon Chaney silent version is a classic.


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