Friday, May 25, 2007

Royal Review: The Way We Were, Remembering Diana by Paul Burrell

Say what you will about the man, he knows how to write a tell-all. I'll admit that, other than waiting for him to do something ridiculous for me to satirize, I really don't pay that much attention to him. So, why am I reviewing this book? well, I have to write about something don't I? Not to mention, it was also at the library.

Considering his somewhat obsessive closeness to her and her memory, he is one of the few people who could be said to have seen her in all of her glorious inconsistencies. The one person, who because of his proximity to her, can authoritatively fill the public's need for endless personal details about her. One would think that he's shamelessly cashing in on her memory, but Burrell doesn't see it that way: 'In painting an accurate record of history, I have breached none of that confidence'. One has to wonder whether he would offer this accurate record of history were Diana still alive.

Reading The Way We Were is almost like sitting with Burrell for coffee, while he confides in us the turn by turn layout of her apartments at Kensington Palace, the color scheme of the walls and furniture, her shoe size, favourite nail polish color, and what she liked to eat for breakfast. Also included is Burrell's memory of the untold love story between Diana and Hasnat Khan, an eminent heart surgeon who smokes, drinks, and likes KFC. Burrell is indignant about her memory being associated with Dodi, discussing the relationship with Hasnat in detail in a chapter called 'The One'. He also writes with candor about the true nature of her relationship with Dodi, as well as the famous 'engagement' ring.

I was prepared to dislike this book, but Burrell reminisces about Diana in a graceful and respectful way. His continuous references to her as 'The Boss' get a bit tiresome. While Burrell claims friendship, the relationship was obviously never equal, so calling her 'The Boss' unnecessarily elevates her. Despite this, he presents her as a spiritual and introspective person and not a myth. But photographs of her personal space and the details he reveals regarding her death are somewhat intimate and it made me feel, as a reader, somewhat of an intruder. Such information should not be for public consumption.

Burrell claims that this is his last book on Diana, which I find hard to believe. However, if this is so, then Burrell has honored and done justice to her memory.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Click on this link to purchase The Way We Were: Remembering Diana


Anonymous said...

So what is her favourite nail polish colour? And what does she eat for breakfast? Enquiring minds want to know!

Marilyn Braun said...

According to the book, her favorite nail polish color was noir rouge. Her breakfast consisted of a slice of wholemeal toast, half a grapefruit, a spoonful of honey, and black coffee, no sugar.

Also, in case you're wondering, her favorite perfume was Hermes -Faubourg 24.

Anonymous said...

I found his other book, "A Royal Duty" fascinating for his writing about the Queen as much as about Diana.

Marilyn Braun said...

Yes, I completely agree with you on his first book. I genuinely enjoyed it and I just loved the behind the scenes look at the Queen. I kind of wish he would have focused a bit more on her because I found the details fascinating.