Some spoilers follow, but I’m assuming pretty much everyone out there has at least seen the film. But, you know what they say about assuming, so I will utilize spoiler spaces just in case.
I think the biggest problem for me initially was all the “autobiographical” information at the beginning of the book. None of that was in the film, for the most part, so it was an odd way (to me personally) for the story to start. I get that the interjections and made-up histories are part of the book’s charm, and I didn’t have issue with them throughout the actual plot of the storyline, but it was not what I’d been expecting going in, which is probably why I had such trouble getting going with the reading. Just my two cents, of course!
See, I wanted what Goldman termed “the good parts”, and those were a long time coming. But once they did, I had a lot of fun with the story, and especially making the comparisons between the book and the film. There was a lot more backstory in the book (as there always is), and I loved reading about the characters’ pasts and family histories. I especially loved seeing more with Westley and Buttercup, but also Inigo. I am glad the film cut out mentions of the actual Zoo of Death, and especially the actual “battles” (for lack of a better word) with the snake and bats (ew to both). Also, the slight change at the end, with Westley, Buttercup and Humperdinck (in the film, Westley manages to stand and raise his sword, whereas in the book, he nearly kicks the bucket again) was, well, happier. The ending of the book was totally ambiguous, which would not have satisfied viewers of the film. It is clear with the addition of the first chapter of Buttercup’s Baby to my copy of the book that they all survive, but the happy ending – and the kiss – was just more visually satisfying for the ending of a film. Not to mention more emotionally satisfying (but perhaps that’s just because I don’t really like the idea of the four of them on the run from Humperdinck for the rest of their lives). Yes, I’m a great big girl and a total sap – so sue me. :-P
Basically I view the film and book as two separate things, and as separate entities, they are both fantastically fun in their own ways. I’m glad I (finally) read the book, but I don’t think it will become an all-time favorite. The movie, however, is already there. <3
And I do also hope that Goldman someday finishes Buttercup’s Baby. It would be nice to see how the true original canon comes to an end. (But please, Mr. Goldman: Don’t let Fezzik die!)