Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book Review: As You Wish by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Delightful behind the scenes stories of a movie I love
Cons: Finding cons in this book is inconceivable
The Bottom Line:
Behind scenes stories
About a well-loved movie
All fans need to read

Loving Look Behind the Scenes of a Beloved Movie

Like millions of others, I love The Princess Bride, so naturally Cary Elwes’ book As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from The Making of The Princess Bride caught my attention as soon as I heard about it.  And there it sat on my “to buy and read someday soonish” list until a friend sent me a copy.  I’m glad she did because I completely enjoyed the book.

For those who might not know, Cary Elwes played the hero of The Princess Bride – Westley.  And the book is pretty much what you’d expect, stories from the making of the film.  He starts with how he was cast at the age of 23 without many credits and proceeds through meeting his cast mates, filming the movie, and fencing practice.  You can’t forget about the fencing.

My only niggle with the book comes from the subtitle.  I don’t know that I would consider any of the stories here “inconceivable.”  Obviously, he was going for the tie in to film, which is certainly fun.  But based on what I know about movie making (which admittedly isn’t much), I didn’t find anything shocking here.

Believe me, for any fan of the movie, that is a very minor complaint.  I would pick this book up and not want to put it down.  Pages would fly by as I pictured the behind the scenes stories he was telling and how they fit into the movie I know and love.  And yes, there are a couple of scenes I won’t look at the same way again now that I know a bit about what went on behind the scenes.

Don’t let that last sentence worry you – if you are a fan of this movie there is nothing here to turn you off to the movie.  Cary doesn’t tell any bad stories.  There are very few stories about anything negative happening during the filming of the movie, and those that are here come across as humorous.  I don’t know if there are any truly bad stories to tell about the filming, but if there are, you won’t find them here.  And I’m perfectly fine with that.

What comes across instead is how much fun Cary had while making this film.  Yes, there was hard work involved, but looking back at it all these years later, he remembers the time fondly.  Clearly, he and his cast mates had a good time together.  I often think when that is the case, it comes across on the screen.  Maybe that’s why we’ve all fallen for this movie.

While most of the book is Cary’s memories, he does include side stories from his co-stars, the writer, and director.  These help flesh things out and are a lot of fun.  If I had one complaint, Cary doesn’t tell any stories he wasn’t part of, so if you want to hear anything about the scenes he wasn’t in, you’ll be disappointed.  But honestly, he’s in almost every scene of the film, so that’s hardly an issue.

What comes across in all the stories shared is just how much everyone is proud to be part of this film.  You can tell they are so thrilled that the film has found such an enduring place in movie history even if it wasn’t the box office success it should have been when it first came out.

Reading this book made me want to rewatch the movie again, something I hadn’t done for years.  I’d forgotten just how good it really is.

If you are a fan of The Princess Bride but have yet to pick up As You Wish, you really need to do that today.  This is a wonderful behind the scenes look you’ll savor.

And in the inconceivable event that you’ve never watched the movie, here’s my review of The Princess Bride.


  1. Really enjoyed the book. And, I got to meet Cary Elwes at BookExpo. He was just as nice as you would expect. And, a lot of the people in the room were really there just to see and hear him.

  2. Sounds wonderful! I can understand why Cary Elwes would only talk about what he knows - and I’d guess it was actually written by Joe Layden, based on a series of interviews and I guess an interview is likely to be asking the star what he remembers.

    I am a huge fan of The Princess Bride, must look this book up!

    The only behind the scenes book I remember including more than just the actor’s memories was one by Andy Serkis, about the filming of Lord Of The Rings, which includes bits about the special effects and duch, by the people who did th3 technical stuff.

  3. I just listened to this and was absolutely in love with it! Of course I'm a fan of the Princess Bride but how can you not be! I agree that there isn't really anything inconceivable in this book other than maybe how glowing everyone is about the movie!