This is the book club selection for December. It’s a five act play,
originally written in 1897. The play swept the audiences of France
with its charms of gallantry and romance. The swash-buckling Cyrano . . .
is an over-the-top character–brave, popular, witty, and in love with
the beautiful Roxane. Alas! he is certain he can never win her love
because of his enormous nose.
And there we are, ready to begin the tongue-in-cheek play with Cyrano
helping his friend Christian win Roxane. Christian is handsome, but
not good with words. Guess who is good with words . . .
Christian sends letters to woo Roxane, but they are secretly written by Cyrano.
It’s a plot that has been copied many times*, but never as beautifully written
as the Edmond Rostand original.
” . . .you the one woman in my loneliness, who charmed it with the
rustle of her dress.”
I read a Peter Pauper Press edition of the book–with a slipcase. Darling
design on cover:
and struggled, struggled getting into the play. This was the original
unmodified verse that Rostand wrote–which I recently read has been
thrown over by most translators for a less unwieldy prose.
Still, I remembered loving the book years ago when I read it (August 1990)
and had added a star in my book record. But I think I read a different version
at that time. Once I had two copies–can’t find the other, so I read the Peter
Pauper one . . .
Fight on! Once you get to Act Two or so, things become clearer and the sing-
song-y verse isn’t quite so annoying. (Yes, that’s me, criticizing Edmond Rostand.
No shame. Just check the written style of the book you borrow from the library.)
I liked the book again! And will probably reread it again some day. I’ve made
several notes of good quotes, but insist that you do your own!
Will show you some of the illustrations by Paul McPharlin which accompany this
Ha! One of the best illustrations in the book is that of the previous owner’s
“ex libris” bookplate:
And so how many buttons? Three!
*three movies that use the Cyrano secret lover theme: “Shop Around the
Corner” with James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan (1940); “In the Good
Old Summertime” with Judy Garland and Van Johnson, a musical (1949);
and “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (1998)