Maskerade is an amazing book. I loved it not only because of Pratchett keeping so many elements from the musical and from The Phantom of the Opera book but for its own sake. It made both fun of the original story(s) and paid tribute to it. But what makes the book special to me was not the light banter between Granny and Nanny (which I loved by the way, and Nanny’s cookbook made me laugh aloud when thinking ‘banananas’ and Granny,) but because of Agnes/Perdita. She is so well developed character, and her inner life speaks to me.
It’s clever how Terry Pratchett made both the ghost and Perdita spirit the original Erik. Both of them were given unwanted appearance, which kept them away from others. Forgotten and ostracised just because they didn’t fit it to some strict mold and they were used for their talents and cast away as soon as something pretty came along, in Agnes’ case Christine. As I said before, Pratchett nailed down the feeling Anges felt. How she was always ignored, taken for granted, and how she was invisible even when there was more of her than say, Christine or any other village girl. (“Inside a fat girl there is a thin girl and a lot of chocolate. Agnes’s thin girl was Perdita.”)
Self-confidence is a funny thing. Not haha funny, but sad funny. Have too much, and you fool yourself. Have too little, and you hate yourself. Perdita and the ghost had none (and they lose the little they have when someone confident enough comes along,) but Christine had too much so she’d lost the sight what was true and what was not. Granny in away has too much self-confidence, however, she uses it not to advance her self-serving motives, but to do the right thing. But I was glad Nanny kept poking holes to her shield, pointing out that pride has its downside.
There is so much going on underneath the lighthearted story that I could go on forever why Maskerade is one of the best Discworld novels. Or about how Maskerade helped me when I was a teenager. How Pratchett didn’t sugarcoat the issue of being ostracized and not fitting into some arbitrary standards, he was honest about it but kind. And that’s why I love Discworld books, you can always expect Pratchett to be honest and kind in his special clever way.
I leave you with one last line Nanny said, “We all wears a mask of one sort or another.”
P.S. If you haven’t seen The Phantom of the Opera musical or opera, see it. It’s amazing. The opera spellbound and inspired me, and it’s no wonder Pratchett wrote Maskerade after being introduced to opera by the story.
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