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The Phantom of the Opera (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable ...

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Overview

The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

The Paris Opera is haunted—everyone knows it. Everyone, that is, except for the new managers, who spark a violent dispute with the Opera Ghost when they refuse to acknowledge his existence or submit to his demands. Sometimes surfacing as a disembodied voice in Box Five or appearing as a gentleman in evening dress with a death’s-head, the phantom is obsessed with Christine Daaé, a lovely and enigmatic novice singer endowed with an amazing voice. But impetuous Viscount Raoul de Chagny is in love with Christine, and he and his brother, Count Philippe, are swept into the phantom’s deadly illusion with horrifying consequences.

Police reports, newspaper clippings, and witness interviews help a sleuthing narrator reconstruct the events of French author Gaston Leroux’s most famous tale, one that had a significant impact on contemporary detective fiction. First published in 1911, The Phantom of the Opera has since been the basis for many adaptations, including Lon Chaney’s silent film and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony award-winning Broadway musical. Today, this thriller is recognized not only as a compelling yarn with gothic overtones, but an engrossing romance of stirring theatricality.

Isabel Roche has a Ph.D. in French literature from New York University and teaches at Bennington College in Vermont. She wrote the book Character and Meaning in the Novels of Victor Hugo and has published articles in The French Review and French Forum.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593082499
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 2/1/2007
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 49,436
  • Product dimensions: 7.92 (w) x 5.28 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Isabel Roche has a Ph.D. in French literature from New York University and teaches at Bennington College in Vermont. She wrote the book Character and Meaning in the Novels of Victor Hugo and has published articles in The French Review and French Forum.

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Read an Excerpt

From Isabel Roche’s Introduction to The Phantom of the Opera

Long before The Phantom of the Opera became a perennial film favorite and a Broadway fixture of enormous success, it was a novel of modest critical and commercial acclaim, written by one Gaston Leroux, a lawyer turned journalist turned novelist. First published serially in the newspaper Le Gaulois from September 1909 to January 1910, Le Fantôme de l’Opéra might well have shared the fate of the bulk of Leroux’s fiction—which is largely unread today—had it not been for its elevation to the big screen with Rupert Julian’s 1925 film version starring Lon Chaney as the phantom. Chaney’s astonishing performance in the role, coupled with a tale that lends itself particularly well to visual rendering, inspired such a considerable number of remakes in various mediums over the course of the twentieth century that the phantom’s story has taken on a life of its own.

Indeed, readers picking up Leroux’s novel for the first time may be surprised to discover the extent to which the novel differs from the many versions that they have seen or heard. For while the adaptations have generally remained faithful to the novel’s core themes—attraction and repulsion, artistry and suffering, love, loss, and redemption—they have taken more extreme liberties in regard to the narrative elements: Leroux’s original plot has been streamlined and at times greatly altered, the pacing quickened, and the journalistic tone of the novel has been expunged in favor of dramatic suspense. Whether or not the many cinematic interpretations have improved upon Leroux’s original is a matter of taste; what is more certain is that The Phantom of the Opera, the novel, merits our attention: Not only does the very readable story capture the mood and sentiment of the years immediately leading up to the golden period of art and innovation that would later be dubbed La Belle époque (literally, “The Beautiful Age”), it also serves as an interesting marker in the history and evolution of the French novel. It is indebted to the Gothic tradition and the fantastic literature and serial novel of the nineteenth century; at the same time it is a precursor of the twentieth-century detective and mystery story that would flourish both abroad and in France with the fiction of Agatha Christie and Georges Simenon, among others.

Leroux had already published nearly a third of the more than thirty novels that would appear in his lifetime when The Phantom of the Opera came out in 1910. A well-respected and talented journalist with a law degree and particular strengths in the areas of court and political reporting, he had turned to full-time fiction writing in 1907 after becoming weary with the pressures and travel required by his job. This shift allowed him to wed his love of writing with his imaginative impulses, which had been nourished by his journeys to such exotic locales as Russia, Africa, and Asia, and Leroux churned out relatively successful potboilers with an impressive regularity. As an art and theatre critic for the newspaper Le Matin at an earlier point in his career, he had visited the Nouvel Opéra (opened in 1875 and known today as the Palais Garnier or the Opéra Garnier) many times and was impressed by the building’s grandiose and imposing architectural design. The catalyst for The Phantom of the Opera, by his own account, was a private visit to the usually sealed-off lower depths of the Opera House during which his curiosity and his imagination were piqued by both the preserved traces of the building’s historical and political importance and the palpable sense of secrecy that the underground labyrinth evoked.

The circumstances surrounding the construction of the Opéra Garnier were the material of legend and lore. On an 1858 visit to the then-official opera house on the rue le Peletier, Emperor Napoléon III (nephew of Napoléon Bonaparte) was the target of a politically motivated attack that ultimately spared him but resulted in the death of 150 people. It was at this moment that the Emperor conceived of replacing the rue le Peletier building (which had been designated the home of the Paris Opera following the assassination of the Duc de Berry in 1820 at the previous opera house at the square Louvois) with a new, more secure structure (with a private, imperial entrance), one whose grandeur would be representative of his ambitious reign. He gave his controversial city planner, Baron Haussmann, who was in the process of reconfiguring Paris with a new layout, the task of organizing a competition to select an architect to design the new building, which would be one of the hubs of his plan of connected boulevards and avenues. Chosen from among the nearly 200 entries was that of the more or less unknown Charles Garnier. Garnier impressed the judges by labeling his eclectic architectural approach “Napoleon III style,” and the resulting structure indeed remains the prime example of Second Empire construction in Paris.

Erecting such a daunting edifice—distinguished by its imposing polygonal shape, crowning dome, ornately sculptured facade, and gigantic interior complete with an enormous foyer and a majestic, gilded double staircase—was a monumental task that was stymied during nearly a twenty-year period by financing issues, construction difficulties, and most directly, political upheaval. The French defeat at Sedan during the Franco–Prussian war of 1870–1871 resulted in the Emperor’s capture. A Third Republic was proclaimed, but the fragile provisional government was then menaced by the siege of the capital by German troops. The still-unfinished Opera House was designated an arsenal and warehouse, and then became the headquarters and eventually a military prison of the Communards—the name given to working-class Parisians who formed their own army in an effort to overthrow those at the helm of the new French regime following France’s capitulation. The violent civil revolution lasted three months and resulted in the loss of thousands of lives before the rebellion was squashed by government forces in May 1871. It was not until 1875 that Garnier’s building—whose cost had escalated to more than 47 million francs—was finally ready to be unveiled with a gala event thrown more to demonstrate the political stability attained by the Third Republic than to celebrate the architect’s achievement (Garnier, in fact, was famously asked to pay to attend the opening!). The Paris Opera—which also had its own ballet company—would draw an increasingly large public during the next few decades as cultural appreciation took on a new importance as part of the joie de vivre mentality that enveloped France before World War I.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 1030 )
Rating Distribution

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(51)

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(14)

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(24)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1031 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Lovely, really lovely.

    I love this book. I read it, like many before me, because I've loved the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical since childhood. I remember my mother reading the book and telling me interesting parts of it, and so I decided to read it myself a little over a year ago. It is such a beautiful story, and Leroux wrote it in such an interesting way. This book is categorized as fiction, but because of the way Leroux writes it (and because I don't know my French history) I want to believe it's real. Leroux writes that he believes the Phantom (Eric) was real. Interspersed with the story, he interjects his own opinion, and occasionally includes real(?) interviews with the characters from history. As a straight work of fiction, this is an amazing, beautiful tale of love, perseverance, the limits of the human existence, horror, suspense, sorrow... This really has everything I want in a story. At the risk of sounding like a cliche, The Phantom of the Opera made me laugh, cry, gasp, sigh, and grip the book with white knuckles. And the little bits here and there that make you want to believe it was all real... well, they make you want to go to Paris to see the opera house.<BR/><BR/>And not surprisingly, the soundtrack to Weber's musical makes really good background music while reading this. Grab a tissue at the end.

    53 out of 56 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2006

    I Love Erik!

    I'm So In love with Erik! He's a pure genious and should not be judged on looks! Erik is kind and gentle deep down, all he wants is love, but Christine can't see past his face, that face which sentenced him to a life time of sloitude. Basically, Christine Is pretty freaking crazy not to choose the phantom, in my opinion :P

    17 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2009

    Great Book

    I thought Gaston Leroux proved himself an amazing author in this suspenseful novel. I enjoyed this book and could not put it down once i got into it. In fact, it only took me about two days. He did a great job combining suspense, mystery, and romance all into one book so both guys and girls can enjoy. There was never a slow moving part; it was always action pact in an edge of your seat type of anticipation. He did a good job using the literary element of symbolism as a base of the story. He did a good job portraying each character and giving them the perfect personalities for their roles. I was also impressed with how well thought through the story line was and how detailed he was of the characters and the opera house itself. Like i said i really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any one who loves suspenseful and or romantic novels that are action packed and full of unexspected turns.

    16 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    A Flawed Masterwork

    The novel “The Phantom of the Opera’ written by Gaston Leroux is one of the most unique books I have ever read. It tells the story of the infamous Opera Ghost who lives beneath the Parisian Opera House. To most, he is just a legend but to others- unfortunate and doomed others-he is a real human being named Erik. However, he soon falls in love with the beautiful Christine Daae and seeks to aid her in her pursuit of glory and perfection. However, Christine’s lover Raoul soon catches on to what is happening and, because of his love for Christine, aims to do something about this meddlesome and dangerous Phantom.
    One of the biggest themes of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ is that of appearances and how they deceive. The Phantom is hideous and his entire reputation is based on the fact that he is hideous. No one truly knows who he is and judges him on his disfigured face. However, when wearing his mask or when he is not even seen, he is not judged. Christine, in fact believes that he is someone that she can relate to and, quite possibly, love. Likewise, the rich and attractive benefactors of the Opera House are respected by everyone and loved by many. However, on the inside, these people are just as hideous as the Phantom. They judge the Phantom and are ultimately the reason for his demise. Throughout the entire story, we, the audience, transform from judging based on the myths and descriptions of the Phantom to knowing who he is and why he is that way. Thus, in addition to receiving a gripping yarn, we also learn a valuable lesson.
    Like I have said, this is a curious and unique book. It most certainly deserves a place in history with a truly fascinating story and main character. However, in my opinion, the book is not very well written. It seems to stumble along and relies and how intriguing the story. In the end, the writing style was not enough to greatly hinder my enjoyment of the book but it kept from being the truly great book that it could have been. Apart from the writing style, the book is really terrific. The story is fascinating and engaging from start to finish. The characters of the Phantom, Raoul and Christine Daae and their respective relationships are just so fascinating that they makes the entire book worth reading. One character, especially, stands out among the others. In my opinion, the mysterious “Persian” is even more interesting than Erik the Phantom. He is a mysterious man from Erik’s past who is quite sympathetic against Erik but has to work with Raoul against him. To reveal any more would be a crime.
    While ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ may be a ‘great’ book, it is actually not all that good. It will never be used as a literary example of how books should be written. Gaston Leroux’s novel is just good, pulpy fun and sometimes that’s all you want in a book. For me, it was just enough.

    12 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    fantastic!

    This gothic novel does a wonderful job with crossing genre lines. It mixes elements of romance, horror and mystery into a fantastic piece of fiction. We, the reader, travel from the very roof of the Paris Opera House down to the lair of the "Angel of Music" beneath that same house of music. The Phantom of the Opera contains an underground lake, a torture chamber and a graveyard. And yet this novel is fundamentally a love story. A heartbreaking one at that!<BR/><BR/>This novel by Gaston Leroux has been adapted to the stage and film many times. It is considered to be a French classic of literature. It is very deserving.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2008

    A reviewer

    I've seen the musical and sang the music and still the Phantom seems to haunt me. Now that I've read Gaston Leroux's popular novel, I can say that he was an ingenious man to have created such a story of drama, terror, love, passion, envy, jealousy, romance, adventure, suspense, obsession and magic! The character of Erik is painted with sorrow, pain and a denied passion towards the world 'kind of like the Erik in the play'. If you are a person who loves the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast then you will love the Phantom of the Opera! Guaranteed!

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Phantom of the Opera

    The Phantom of the Opera is, quite plainly, a wonderful book.
    Being a great fan of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, I decided at long last to read the original novel to get a better grasp of the characters and storyline. I finished it only a few days, and let me tell you: I was
    not disappointed.

    Gaston Leroux artfully mixes fact with fiction to create a tale that is original, exciting, at times funny, emotional, romantic, and heart-breaking.

    The plot is simple: The Opera Ghost or Phantom, Erik, lives in the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera House, a recluse because of his deformity. He secretly tutors the Palais' new Soprano, the young Swedish girl Christine Daae. He falls in love with her, only to have
    his affections thwarted by the entrance of Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny, who had known Christine from her childhood.

    Many authors I've read often go off on a tangent, creating whole chapters in which nothing happens which even remotely has to do with the story and leaves you wondering "What was I reading?". Leroux's writing style is fairly straightforward, and his simple descriptions leaves much for the reader to imagine for themselves, making it an easier and more personal read than some writers, such as Charles Dickens.

    Though the plot and characters are written quite simply, excluding perhaps the Phantom himself, the book is compelling and entertaining, and not perhaps as dark as other French Gothic novels. I must admit there were several scenes in the book, particularly between Erik and Christine, that made me cry, and I'm not usually driven to tears when I read.

    The Phantom of the Opera is a fantastic story that deserves to be read over and over again, and I would highly recommend it to all my friends.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2007

    A reviewer

    This is my all time favorite book. I urge anyone who hasn't already, to read it - even if you think you already know The Phantom of the Opera story, because there hasn't been any film or book out there that is the exact same version as this one. This book is written like no other I've ever read and it really leaves you asking the question, 'did Erik really exist?'.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Best ever!

    I read this book a few years ago and have been a huge Phantom fan ever since! It is by far my favorite story of all time...and I have read alot of books!<BR/><BR/>This story draws you in and makes you feel for the characters. For some, it even brings upon the moral dilemma of asking themselves...do I want the "bad guy" to win? It is truly a love story, but with a twist.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2006

    The Perfect Romance for all!!!

    I've grown up with The Phantom of the Opera, but never really got into it until the 2004 movie came out. After learning there was a book, I bought it at the closest bookstore. As soon as I read the first word, I could not put the book down. The Phantom of the Opera is about an insane musical genius haunting the catacombs of the Paris Opera House. Christine Daae, a new chorus girl, catches Erik's (phantom) eye and for the first time, knows what it's like to love. He comes to her as an Angel of Music and as he watches her from behind her mirror, he teaches Christine how to bring people to their knees with the splendour of her voice. Erik's already intense and passionate love for the arising star rapidly escalates to obsession when Christine's childhood sweetheart, Raoul de Chagny, comes into the picture. From then on, it is fight between Raoul and Erik over the beautiful Christine. This book is so uniquely written and the descriptions so powerful, it will leave you breathless. I was sobbing in the end and I won't give anything away, but it is truly a moving love story. Erik is frightful man who murders and plays tricks on the Opera attendees, and you can see why Christine is afraid of him, but one cannot help feeling pity for him as he attempts to win Christine's love. There are times when you find him highly likeable and other times when you hate him and are nearly shouting at him that the things he's doing aren't going to win her love. Despite what anyone says, I view Christine as a perfect heroine and a very intelligent woman. I think those who harbor sour feelings for Christine are only jealous. Many people also say that she doesn't love Erik, but if they read and analysed enough, they would find there is a much deeper and more passionate concept to Erik and Christine's relationship. Like Raoul says, the most ardent of love is when you are in love and afraid at the same time. Raoul is the ideal Prince Charming, although he tends to whine a lot. He is the complete opposite of Erik: attractive, charming, suave, and sane while Erik is said to look like death itself, awkward, and the epitome of madness. All in all, this is the best book that will ever exist and I recommend this brilliant piece of work to everyone.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2012

    Go Team Erik!!!!!!

    After seeing the movie (nothing compared to this book by the way) i really wanted to read how it all started The moment i read the first chapter i was hooked This book is full of romance, thrills, and, of course, the mysteries of the Opera Ghost A must read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Hallejuah! Hallejuah! Don Juan Triumphs ultimately lol

    I LOVE this book to death! Everything about it is AMAZING! But....it does get a little confusing I'm not going to lie. But the plot, the character development...just....amazing. But, I like the opera/musical better. Sorry Gaston, but I do. But, I still love this book and it will forever be in my library!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2007

    another great read

    i really loved the phantom of the opera its a great book. the ends of the chapter leave you hanging by a threadand you cant putit down and i love erik

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Lovely, really lovely.

    I love this book. I read it, like many before me, because I've loved the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical since childhood. I remember my mother reading the book and telling me interesting parts of it, and so I decided to read it myself a little over a year ago. It is such a beautiful story, and Leroux wrote it in such an interesting way. This book is categorized as fiction, but because of the way Leroux writes it (and because I don't know my French history) I want to believe it's real. Leroux writes that he believes the Phantom (Eric) was real. Interspersed with the story, he interjects his own opinion, and occasionally includes real(?) interviews with the characters from history. As a straight work of fiction, this is an amazing, beautiful tale of love, perseverance, the limits of the human existence, horror, suspense, sorrow... This really has everything I want in a story. At the risk of sounding like a cliche, The Phantom of the Opera made me laugh, cry, gasp, sigh, and grip the book with white knuckles. And the little bits here and there that make you want to believe it was all real... well, they make you want to go to Paris to see the opera house.<BR/><BR/>And not surprisingly, the soundtrack to Weber's musical makes really good background music while reading this. Grab a tissue at the end.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Thrilling, Amazing, Moving

    This was one of the most thrilling, amazing, and moving books ever written. I first saw the play and thought it was amazing. The costumes and the music were great. Right from the start, I was hooked. I then watched the movie. I thought that it was a big dissapointment. The Phantom had a strange voice and was not right. I then read the book. I LOVED IT! I seriously could not put it down. It was done in a week. It was the most moving stories ever. The book made you feel compassion towards all the characters. You could really get inside each character. Gaston Leroux did an ecelent job giving all sides of the situation. This is a very good book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2008

    Gripping the Heart

    Suspicion forms the words on each page. Excitement forms the paragraphs. Weaved dramatically throughout the story are different viewpoints, complex characters, physical appearance, and the inner appearance. The true genius of the author is displayed in his ability to keep the reader from having a solid opinion of any of the characters until the reader has read every line from cover to cover. In one word, The Phantom of the Opera is Masterful.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2008

    a superb play and an even better novel!

    i read this novel in the 9th grade after seeing the play on broadway. after the play i was hooked so i went out and decided to buy the novel.it was great and haunts you as you travel through the book. it is one of the best novels that i have read in a long time.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2011

    What a waste of time

    As much as I love the classics, I seriously disliked this book. I wonder if it was even a classic before Andrew Lloyd Weber made it into a musical. He must have morphed it into a completely different story, because as it is, this book is a drudgery to read. There is absolutely no character development, which made for little motivation to actually care about what happened. A more touching story would have been if Erik were actually likable, despite his difficult life. A more interesting story would have been if he were actually a phantom. As it is, I have to agree with the criticism it received in its day, and would go so far as to say it's an utter waste of time. If I weren't so compulsive, I would have shut it for good after the first 50 pages.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2008

    Best Book and Movie EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It is spell binding! It's mesmerizing! A KEEPER! The best ever created! Work of a GENIUS!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2008

    Touching and Suspence

    The story of the Phantom's love with Christine who loves Raoul is deeply emotional. The way Christine acts leads Raoul to a near death situation, but he wants Christine.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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