memoir · nonfiction

Book Review: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from The Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden

A book based on a popular movie??? That was a prompt I needed to fill for the 2023 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, and…I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that at first. I’m not really about novelizations, so it seemed as though this would be a tough one to fill. But then a list of suggestions featured As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden (Atria Books, 2014). Who DOESN’T love that movie??? I’d heard of the book and had always wanted to read it, but hadn’t gotten around to it, so this was the perfect opportunity. And it turned out to be an excellent book! 

The Princess Bride didn’t actually do all that well at the box office, but once it came out on video, its popularity exploded, turning it into the cult classic that people still quote from constantly. In this book, actor Cary Elwes, who played Westley, spills the secrets of the making of the film, from the nerves of the actors who auditioned for it, the mishaps on set (including Elwes’s own broken toe!), to the improbability of the movie ever having gotten made in the first place – I had no idea that others had attempted to make this film before, but that it had always fallen apart before filming started. No one was quite sure how to film such a beloved, yet complex story.

From the very first moments of director Rob Reiner putting together a cast, to the 30th reunion party, Cary Elwes describes all the ups and downs on set. Wallace Shawn’s nerves about his inability to play Vizzini, Andre the Giant’s gentle personality, health struggles, and awareness that he likely wouldn’t live a long life, the laughter Billy Crystal brought to the set as Miracle Max, it’s all here on these pages, and you’ll experience it all with this outstanding cast.

What a fun, fun read. I felt like I was there on the set, wearing Robin Wright’s fireproof dress, going through hours upon hours of fencing training with Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin, sweating in an ROUS costume in the hot summer sun. It seemed that the actors knew – despite what the box office numbers originally told them – that they were creating something really special, and the joy they experienced while making this movie is evident in Elwes’s writing. This is an absolute gem of a book, and if you’ve ever enjoyed watching The Princess Bride, you’ll love this book. 

Follow Cary Elwes on Twitter here.


2 thoughts on “Book Review: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from The Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden

    1. IT IS!!! I still remember seeing it for the first time. We recently showed it to my daughter for the first time, just before I read this book, and I’m already ready to watch it again! 🙂


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