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The Diana Chronicles Paperback – May 20, 2008
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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. But Brown also shows us that she was very canny, and her media gambles--the Morton book, the famous TV interview--paid off. In her divorce negotiations she came off much, much better than her hapless sister-in-law Fergie. Stunned at how badly Sarah Ferguson was treated, Diana vowed it wouldn't happen to her--and it didn't.
Sadly we know the end of the story. How ironic that the most famous and desireable woman in the world spent her last summer in the arms of Dodi Fayed, who, Brown claims, was also pushed into it by his status-seeking father. One wonders what would have become of her; by the end of her life the chances of her finding a happy relationship seemed quite remote.
I raced through this book, fascinated by Brown's wealth of detail. Diana wasn't a saint as some claimed, nor an airhead. She was deeply troubled and quite amazing at the same time, and to Brown's credit I finished this book feeling I'd gotten a glimpse of the true person. Highly readable; highly recommended.
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.