The Phantom of Manhattan
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First edition (UK)
|Genre||Thriller, Mystery, Romance|
|Publisher||Bantam Books (UK)|
St. Martin's Press (US)
|Media type||Print (Hardcover, Paperback & Mass Market Paperback)|
Forsyth's literary concept is that Leroux had recorded factual events but, in review, had apparently not checked his facts or viewed his sources with a critical eye. Accordingly, the novel can be read as both a tribute to Leroux's novel and a satire of period novels in the vein of George MacDonald Fraser's The Flashman Papers series (both a satire and exploration of Victorian history and stories).
This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (May 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Phantom of Manhattan tells its story from the viewpoint of several characters.
On her deathbed, Madame Giry confesses to a priest of when she took her daughter Meg, then six years old, to a fair. Madame Giry felt so sorry for a young boy with a disfigured face who had been ill-treated that she crept back to the fair at night and stole him. She took the boy to her apartment where she cared for him until she had grown to love him like a son. The boy, Erik, recounted that he had been sold to the circus by his abusive father shortly after his mother had run away with her lover. For reasons of security, Madame Giry took him to the Opera house where she worked; he hid out in the catacombs, stealing books and other appliances to educate himself. Over time, as a result of missing objects, the legend of the phantom was born.
Erik had fallen in love with Christine Daaé, a young chorus girl who did not return his feelings. Driven by rage, Erik abducted Christine and accidentally killed the tenor Piangi when he was trying to silence him. A mob found their way to his home but all they found was Christine and the Vicomte De Chagny, Erik having already fled to Madame Giry's apartment on a ship bound for New York. Madame Giry, who had paid for Erik's passage, then addresses her lawyer Armand Dufour, telling him to go to New York and find Erik; Madame Giry gave Armand a letter she had written to give to Erik; she said it contained important and vital information for him.
Erik then narrates, recounting events after he reached New York. For a short while, Erik lived among the slums of New York in a shack. He met a man named Darius, whom he used to do his bidding. Together, they made their fortune by scamming and conning people for two years. Hearing of a man named Paul Boyton who was looking to open up a theme park in New York, Erik together with Darius arranged to help Boyton build the rides and attractions that were to be included in the park. Other businessmen heard of Boyton's success, and commissioned Erik and Darius to design similar rides for them. Business was good, and through astute investments in the stock market, Erik and Darius prospered. They owned a building called E.M. Tower. However, Erik's latent love for opera was never quenched, and after being denied a private box by the Metropolitan Opera, he and a budding opera house designer, Oscar Hammerstein, chose to collaborate on a grandiose project – an all-new opera house to rival the Metropolitan Opera.
Armand Dufour, who had been looking frantically for Erik in New York with little success, was on the point of returning to France when he met a columnist named Cholly Bloom in a coffee shop. Through a translator, Cholly learns of Armand's mission to find the mysterious Erik and quickly realises that this is an opportunity to get a good story, so he accompanies Armand to E.M. Tower, where he demands to see Mr. Erik Mulheim. However, he is fielded by Darius, who denies him audience, but firmly insisted that he would personally hand the letter to Mr. Erik himself. While waiting, Cholly notices that the subject of the painting on the wall had been replaced by a rather frightening figure in a mask; when Darius returns, the painting seemingly has gone back to normal. Cholly, confused and suspicious, leaves the tower, convinced that he has just had an encounter with the mysterious Phantom of Manhattan.
Darius goes to the House of Hishash in a trance-like state to see his Master, Mammon. He tells Mammon of his concern for his friend Erik since he has received a letter from Paris. Erik, he said, had become increasingly obsessed with opera; Darius is concerned at the risks of investing in the grandiose opera project. In fact, since reading the contents in the letter, Erik sent his man to Paris with a great sum of money to pay for two of the world's leading opera singers – Dame Nellie Melba and Vicomtesse Christine De Chagny – to come to New York for the new opera house's opening. He also has begun to furiously work on writing his own opera. Mammon calms Darius' fears claiming that he should not worry but, rather threateningly, concludes the chapter by telling Darius that whatever obstacles that stand in the way of his claiming his inheritance from Erik must be eliminated.
We then are introduced to Gaylord Spriggs' gossip column, which noted that the whole operatic world was in a frenzy over the arrival of Nellie Melba and Christine De Chagny. The column reveals the vast amounts of money that were spent to induce Dame Melba to cross the Atlantic to come to New York. It also gushes about how Christine De Chagny's claim that she was coming to New York not for the money but out of her sheer admiration of the quality and desire to be a part of the newest opera "The Angel of Shiloh", whose composer is yet unknown.
Meanwhile, accompanying his mother on the boat to New York with a tutor, Joseph Kilfoyle A.K.A. "Father Joe", 12-year-old Pierre De Chagny inquires and is told about Father Joe's experiences and the circumstances which drove him from his native Ireland. As Vicomtesse De Chagny and her son arrive, they are greeted by journalists and fans alike at the Quayside. As they make their way through the crowd, onlooker Bernard Smith remarks on New York's great admiration for the young singer and about the welcoming ceremony in which both Christine and the Mayor gave speeches. However, in the midst of the excitement, Smith notices a man whose face is covered by a white mask staring directly at Christine De Chagny from the roof of the warehouse opposite the docks; no one else has noticed him. The figure disappears when he notices Bernard looking at him. He then notices that a man has thrown his cloak on the ground, for Christine and her entourage to walk on, to avoid getting their feet dirty as they enter their carriage. This man turns out to be one of Bernard's own employees – a young news reporter.
Cholly's act of kindness earns him an exclusive interview with the world-renowned opera singer in her suite. When he arrives, he is greeted by Christine De Chagny's young son Pierre, who is busy examining the contents of a present that has just arrived for him – a certain monkey music box. As the music box begins to play "Masquerade", Christine De Chagny screams and says: "He must be here!" Cholly explains to Christine that the music box comes from Steeplechase Amusement Park. Christine, clearly agitated, demands to know where the park is, and then asks Cholly to accompany herself and Pierre to the park. Cholly, overjoyed with the chance of getting an exclusive from the opera singer, happily accepts.
Meanwhile, Erik is still in shock at seeing Christine again. He realises that his love for her will be forever unrequited, but the letter he received gave him reason to hope: Madame Giry, his former protector, wrote that Christine has a son and that Erik is his biological father; the young Vicomte De Chagny, Christine's future husband, was unable to have children as a result of an unfortunate set of events. Erik becomes determined to meet Christine the following day, knowing that the music box he sent will have already alerted her to the fact that he is residing in New York.
Later that evening, Christine De Chagny's maid, Meg Giry, recalls how agitated her mistress was after hearing the sound of the music box. She later recalls how many years ago she had seen first hand Christine's encounter with the mysterious Phantom. She attempts to comfort Christine.
The following day, Taffy Jones, master at Steeplechase Funfair, was catering to Christine De Chagny when the controls the hall of mirrors all began to malfunction almost as if they had been reprogrammed. The mirrors swung in a different direction to reveal a person whom Jones could not see, but whom Christine clearly recognised. Jones overhears the pairs' conversation in which the stranger says he still loved Christine, and tries to convince her to go with him; she refuses. After a brief pause, he asks Christine to leave him his son. Christine, shocked by his knowledge of Pierre, promised to tell Pierre the truth of his parentage in five years time, and to give her consent for Pierre to go with him should Pierre desire. The stranger does not like this arrangement and vows silently, but within earshot of Taffy, to have the boy one way or another. At the same time Taffy notices another pale faced figure, who apparently has heard the whole conversation, run out of the hall of mirrors.
Pierre's tutor, Joseph Kilfoyle, is then shown having an encounter with God in the cathedral. God tells Joseph of Erik's past and that he is not a bad person but a tormented soul who can still be saved. As for his accomplice, Darius, it is too late for him and he has sold his soul to a man made God, Mammon.
The new opera opens, and Christine is critically acclaimed by Gaylord Spriggs. During the last act of the show, the character of the lead tenor is replaced by an unknown, severely disfigured, singer – one whose voice matches the lead tenor in strength and clarity. After the show, the mysterious understudy is still nowhere to be found. Then, Cholly sees him whisper something to Pierre (who also is revealed to be an amazing singer, he is featured in the opera as well), and then passes a note to Christine.
The final section of the book is narrated some years later by Cholly, via a lecturer at a university. He tells his class of the importance of being a reporter and reveals the one event he never printed that occurred on the last day of Christine De Chagny's visit. The Vicomte De Chagny had arrived some time after his wife, and he and Cholly had become friends. While awaiting Christine at breakfast, Cholly lets it slip that she is meeting someone called Erik in the park. Shocked by this news, the Vicomte rushes out; Cholly follows. He notices something else – a slip of paper he discovered on which Darius had written, indicating that Darius intends to kill Pierre, believing him to be the one obstacle between him and his inheritance. Fearing for Pierre's life, Cholly rushes to the park also to warn Christine. When he arrives he hides behind the bushes in time to see the mysterious Phantom and Christine meet, while Darius prepares his gun. As the Vicomte and Father Joe arrive, Pierre rushes out of the carriage and embraces his mother. At that moment, Darius shoots, the bullet hits Christine and fatally injures her. The Phantom shoots and kills Darius in return. As Christine lay dying, she confesses the truth to Pierre. The Phantom is heartbroken. The Vicomte De Chagny picks up Christine's body and tells Pierre he must make a choice. Pierre removes the Phantom's mask and declares that he will stay with him. The Vicomte goes back to France to bury his wife and love.
The epilogue states that Raoul never married again. Pierre and the Phantom stayed in New York, and when war broke out they changed their family name and alerted people to the causes of deformity and injury due to the war. The Phantom never wore the mask again. The New York Opera eventually closed down, but Hammerstein's grandson wrote many famous musicals in the 1950s with Richard Rodgers. Father Joe remained in the church and taught underprivileged children. The Phantom lives on into the 1960's, passing away just prior to the launch of Apollo 11 in 1969.
- Erik Muhlheim "The Phantom" - Former Phantom of the Paris Opera, now an important New York impresario. Stumbles upon a secret so potent it will change his life forever.
- Christine Daaé, Vicomtesse De Chagny - The Phantom's main love interest and famous soprano. She is married to Raoul and has one son, Pierre. She comes to sing in New York, invited by the Phantom, though she doesn't know this.
- Raoul, Vicomte De Chagny - Christine's husband.
- Antoinette Giry - Former ballet mistress of the Paris Opera, rescued Erik from a circus when he was a child. Years later helped him come to America. On her death bed she reveals all the secrets.
- Darius - Erik's partner. Believed to be heir to the Phantom's fortune; obsessed with destroying whoever stands in his way.
- Pierre De Chagny - Young son of Christine and the Phantom. Assumes Raoul is his father, but doesn't know his real father. Admires Father Joe.
- Charles "Cholly" Bloom - New York American reporter. Wants to discover the truth about the Phantom and his relationship with Christine.
- Father Joseph "Joe" Kilfoyle - Priest and Pierre's tutor. Is Irish and is secretly attracted to Christine.
- Meg Giry - Madame Giry's daughter. Was a ballerina at the Paris Opera, but a crash ended her career. Meg is now the maid and best friend of Christine.
- Armand Dufour - Lawyer contracted by Madame Giry to carry the letter to Erik in New York.
- Taffy Jones - Coney Island's animator, accidentally hears a revealing conversation between Erik and Christine.
- "Musical Review: Love Never Dies". yahoo.com. Retrieved 7 November 2015.