Just Desserts Discussion Group talks about
The Phantom of the Opera
by Gaston Leroux
This month, our group read Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Louis Alfred Leroux. Many of our members have seen various productions of the musical, but none of us had read the book before.
Gaston Leroux was born in Paris in 1868. He studied law in school. After school, Gaston started writing as a court reporter, theater critic, and international correspondent. He covered the 1905 Russian Revolution.
In 1907, Leroux began writing fiction. In 1908, he wrote The Mystery of the Yellow Room. In 1911, Leroux wrote The Phantom of the Opera. It was not well received until the 1925 film with Lon Chaney hit the movie screen. There was also a huge revival when Andrew Lloyd Webber turned it into the longest running musical of all time! Leroux’s contribution to French detective fiction is considered a parallel to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s in the U.K. and Edgar Allan Poe’s in the U.S. He was made a Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur in 1909. Leroux died in 1927 in Nice.
We shared a great discussion about the author, the novel, and the former Paris Opera House. In 1858, Emperor Napoleon III of France ordered a new opera house be built in Paris that would be the envy of the world. Over 700 architects competed for the position of Chief architect. Charles Garnier was chosen for the job. The building was built on three acres with seven roads like spokes of a wheel coming out from it. The new opera house had seventeen floors with eighty dressing rooms. It opened to the public in 1875.
This beautifully written gothic novel explores light versus darkness, love versus obsession and unrequited love. We all agreed that the theater is a very romantic setting for our story. We also talked about the importance of masks to the story.
All in all, a magical evening with French pastries and an awesome discussion!