Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Royal Review: Diana, An Amazing Life

In my quest to buy anything Diana related, this will be my year. In the 10th anniversary of her death, a deluge of books, magazines and events will commemorate her life and call my name. This book is one of them.

It beckoned me, but I have complaints. The slick silver cover shows finger prints easily. For someone who collects these types of books, having to wipe it clean after every perusal is frustrating. I've almost given up in trying. My second complaint is that the spine and the introduction erroneously say 'Princess Diana'. While I understand that referring to her as 'Princess Diana' is shorthand for her real title, it's still wrong. For the record, her title during her marriage was HRH The Princess of Wales. After her divorce it was Diana, Princess of Wales.

This 192 page volume spans the 16 years of Diana's royal life from 1981 to her death in 1997. Celebrating her life in 42 covers - the most appearances of anyone before or since. While this may sound impressive, you really need to remember that People is a weekly magazine, not a monthly one. She made the cover sometimes only once a year and averaging no more than twice a year. In 1985 she appears 4 times. In 1989 she doesn't appear at all. In 1992, the year of the separation, she appears a whopping 7 times. Overall the editors of People may want to look at the archives of the monthly Majesty magazine before they brag about this record.

Like most of these books, it shows her evolution from a shy, kindergarten teacher to royal superstar, in a varying degree of photogenic photos and as the fairy tale ended, suitably morose ones. Each issue is presented in a two page synopsis of the main points. The happily ever after pronouncements, birth of Prince William, apocalyptic royal feuds, glamorous fashions, the strain Diana causes on Princes Charles and the birth of Prince Harry. All in the first 53 pages. Having covered all of the real or imagined inter-family conflicts, People then moves to analysing the marriage itself. In sensational headlines, People reports on the coping, moping, Diana's mental stability, her lonliness, their separate lives, and the heartbreak as the fairy-tale ends. Should we have any doubt about the situation, the cover of the November 30th, 1992 issue proclaims 'It's Over', before the December 9th, 1992 official announcement. But it doesn't end there. People reports on Diana's daring new life as a strong, independant woman, her lovers, the battle for her boys and 'Di-vorce!' Her 1997 death earns another two covers.

According to the introduction, 'the goal of this book isn't to analyze her life, but to re-create...something of what those 16 years felt like'. In my opinion, it has suceeded. I couldn't help but be swept up in the happy events, mesmerized by her glamour, and given pause by her tragic ending. While this book is no different from any other commemorative magazine about Diana, I recommend it for any collector.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Click here to order Diana: An Amazing Life

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

I liked the book also. It is very interstig to read about the construction of te dress. There s a book I read about Princess Grace of Monaco's wedding dress that had a diagram of how the dress was constructed that would have been nice to have in this book in regards to Diana's dress. Regardless I really enjoyed the book.