The Phantom of Manhattan by Frederick Forsyth
The Phantom of ManhattanAfter Christine Daae chose to marry Vicomte Raoul de Chagny, Erik, the badly disfigured Phantom of the Opera, emigrated to the New World. When the ship arrived at Ellis Island, he knew his face would get him turned away. So he jumped ship and crawled up on Coney Island. Now he has to find a new way in life.
Coney Island was the perfect place for Erik. First he is able to join the men he cleaned the fish. He is able to hide in plain site. Then the carnivals start. Erik takes the last name of Mulheim. He can wander around in a clown’s outfit. He also has the genius ability to build the rides. He also has a genius with economics and money. With the help of a strange man Darius, he is able to gain a fortune. As their assets, connections, property, and wealth grow, Darius is the front man who meets with the public. Erik is the Phantom – known as the unseen man behind their company.
In 1906, Oscar Hammerstein decides to build the Manhattan Opera House as competition for the New York Met. A silent partner invests in the endeavor. Soon Hammerstein is wooing the best opera sopranos in Europe. A new opera has been written to premiere on the Manhattan Opera House stage when it opens.
The Phantom of Manhattan is an excellent follow up for Gaston Leroux’s small, overlooked novel, The Phantom of the Opera. Frederick Forsyth explains in his introduction that the novel didn’t do well. It took the movies to turn the story into a modern classic. At first it was a horror movie, then turned into the poignant tale that Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote. Webber’s version is closer to the book but still not there. Forsyth then takes up Erik’s story after the happenings in Leroux’s book.
This tale is well done. It’s an easy read. To anyone who knows the Phantom’s story, it’s easy to get caught right back in. It’s been about 15 years since I read the original book. The feelings at the beginning of this book felt right to pull me in.
Forsyth uses different voices to tell the story – Madam Giry, Erik, Darius, a priest, a child, a reporter, and others. Erik’s life is full of connections even though he is a hermit.
The Phantom of Manhattan is a sentimental tale and a book to curl up and enjoy.