Thursday, July 05, 2007

Book Thoughts: The Diana Chronicles

When I was about ten years old, I became fascinated with British royalty and with Princess Diana in particular. And though I've outgrown many aspects of my fascination, I still can't resist an occasional biography of her. About three years ago, I read Paul Burrell's book A Royal Duty while I was on vacation with my family and loved it. And so when I read favorable reviews of Tina Brown's new book The Diana Chronicles, I had to get it.

While Burrell's book was highly complimentary of the Princess of Wales, Tina Brown's tone is far more complex. I feel that in many ways she is sympathetic toward Diana (which some reviews have questioned), but she certainly doesn't shy away from laying a hearty portion of the blame for Diana's struggles upon Diana herself. And I felt that Brown handled most of the characters (and I do mean characters!) in a similar fashion -- Prince Charles, Prince Philip, Camilla Parker Bowles, Fergie, Diana's family, and even the Queen. Each of them is on the receiving end of Brown's love-hate tone, some more than others. (And some certainly get just the "hate" portion, notably Dodi Fayed and his father Muhammed.)

Throughout the biography, usually expressed after an account of some off-the-wall action of Diana's, Brown takes a position that many others have taken on Diana: that she was a woman who might have led a happier, quieter--though, most certainly, far more dull--life had she not married into the Royal Family. Much of the conflict seems to come down to "she didn't understand them, they didn't understand her." Brown addresses and dismisses any suggestion that the monarchy is in danger of not surviving. But she does trace the transformative affects that Diana has had on the Royal Family. If you're interested in Princess Diana, I think this book is worth a read.


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