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Diana Chronicles Paperback – June 5, 2008

4 out of 5 stars 183 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Princess Diana was "the best thing to happen" to the British royals "since the restoration of Charles II," concludes Brown in this dishy biography, and the royal family's error was not realizing that. It's tough to pigeonhole a peacock, but Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, tries, calling the late Diana a diva, "a siren of subversion" who "even as a small girl... had been dangerous when hurt." Brown shows how Diana excelled at manipulating the media; her in-laws could only stand by helplessly as she captivated the cameras by batting her eyes or lowering them in her trademark "Shy Di" look. So enamored of herself was Diana, according to Brown, that she claimed not to understand why a certain cardiologist preferred his work at the hospital to seeing after her. Brown interviewed more than 250 people, from Mikhail Baryshnikov (who found the late Princess "so much more beautiful than any photographs or TV") to a friend of Diana's late mother, who says that mum disapproved of her daughter's too hasty royal marriage and tried talking her out of it. In the battle of unpleasant revelations made by both sides in the Di-Charles battles, Brown speculates that Squidgy-gate was the product of MI5 bugging the royal phones. Brown gives her book a tabloid-lingo touch and can fall into melodrama (while everyoneo saw Di's life as a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, the author says, it "was becoming more like something out of Hitchcock"), but then, given the nature of the subject matter, a little melodrama is entirely fitting. However, the final portrait of Diana as a heroine who broke free of the royal bonds and changed the monarchy forever will be familiar to most readers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

There are few who could delve as successfully into Princess Di's life as the celebrated Tina Brown, who combines her journalistic savvy with the gossip only an insider could know. While she stresses Diana's role in changing the relationship between the press and the House of Windsor, Brown offers plenty of juicy details, "varying from credible to melodramatic to weirdly sitcomlike" (New York Times)-from Diana's sexual relationship (remember Squidgy?) with Charles to her insecurities, her bulimia, the castles, the rivalries. Diana comes off as a bundle of contradictions, which was part of her appeal. If The Diana Chronicles is, in the end, a book partially built on others, it is nonetheless "a trashy (if delicious) tale ... rendered vividly mordant" (Wall Street Journal).
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow Books (June 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099515385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099515388
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (183 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,061,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Marren VINE VOICE on June 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I thought so. With special access to sources as a result of her stint as editor of the Tatler in the UK, Tina Brown has written the story of Diana as both a media creation and media manipulator.

Shockingly uneducated and raised in a broken home, Brown says Diana focused on Charles early as the embodiment of all her life had lacked. Diana was judged to be aristocratic, pretty, malleable and above all a virgin. Charles was, according to Brown, more or less pushed into it by his parents, who along with "Uncle Dickie," the assassinated Earl of Mountbatten, were growing tired of Charles' unsuitable dalliances.

But Diana refused to play along. I'm sure we've all secretely wondered, "so how bad could it have been?" Brown convinces us that it was very bad indeed. Charles was dull, unemotional, and more interested in books than his pretty young wife. The Queen ruled the roost. Surprisingly to me at least, even in private all the courtesies of royalty had to be observed--everyone was summoned to breakfast at 9 am sharp at Balmoral, the summer retreat; no one could retire for the evening before the Queen. Costume changes were endless, as were tramps through the rain and hunting. And of course Camilla was ever present.

In response, Diana became a star. Perhaps she surprised herself at first but it didn't take her long to catch on. She'd tip the media off to her whereabouts, learned how to dress, and used her amazing warmth and charm, not to mention English beauty, to upstage the Royal Family on a regular basis. They were furious. And so was Diana. She could not acccept the royal practice of state marriage and a lover on the side. She was too young, too romantic.
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Format: Hardcover
"August 31, 1997," the book begins. "Paris. The car that sped into the Pont D'Alma Tunnel at twenty-three minutes past midnight was carrying the most famous woman in the world."

Really? I know I rolled over and went back to bed when my then-wife --- who was 45 minutes late to our wedding --- woke up in the middle of the night to watch the Royal Wedding. Sure, Diana was a stunner. But very few men will tell you they want to spend more than a few hours with a bulimic woman of uncertain sanity. No, Diana was a chick fantasy.

The death? Another story. A horse-drawn wagon carrying a coffin and an envelope with one word, "Mommy," had the entire world blubbering. "I still weep when I see clips," a friend told me yesterday. "And the flowers in front of Buck House always get me."

But there have been so many books. And an excellent movie, "The Queen." What's left?

For most writers starting out on a Diana book in 2005, not much. But Tina Brown has a sharp eye for the telling fact. And her enormous Rolodex led her to sources who never talked before or who trusted her to Get It Right. The result is a reading experience that will take over your life until --- exhausted by unexpected empathy --- you turn the last page.

How is this? The end of the story is the most common memory on the planet. What don't we know about this woman?

Well, the "engagement ring" that Dodi Fayed bought Diana on the last day of her life --- he was in and out of the jewelry store in "seven minutes, twenty-seven seconds."

That last dinner at the Ritz --- Diana was "quietly weeping in full view of the clientele."

Camilla, on horseback, told Charles, on horseback, the first time they met, "That's a fine animal you have there, Sir.
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Format: Hardcover
Don't read the Diana Chronicles if you're expecting new bombshell gossip about the life of Princess Diana. But do read it if you're looking for an interesting book that offers a unique take on a famous life.

In the early 1980s, when Lady Diana Spencer was on the verge of marrying her prince, Tina Brown was the 25-year-old editor of Tatler Magazine. A few years later, Princess Diana was the most famous woman in the world and Tina Brown was the most famous woman in publishing. The women knew each other and even met for lunch six weeks before Diana's death.

At times, the Diana Chronicles seems like an encyclopedic version of every book ever published on the late princess - the footnotes alone run 34 pages! But, because the author has connections that most of her fellow biographers can only dream of, it does offer some new insight into Princess Diana's life and the lives of the family she married into.

The Diana Chronicles is less a history and more an analysis. Brown takes some of the more famous moments in the Diana/Charles/Camilla mythology and offers her opinion on what actually took place. She looks not only at Diana's childhood, but also at the English aristocracy in the late 70s and early 80s. And she explains why the Windsors thought Diana would fit a certain mold.

Brown is respectful of the late princess's memory, yet not in awe of it. She is less interested in breaking news than in offering explanations for the different facets of a very complicated, and very human, woman. Ultimately, what makes the Diana Chronicles so worth reading has little to do with the subject and everything to do with the author. Tina Brown can write. And she can write brilliantly.

Four and a half stars.
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