Thursday, January 31, 2008

Royal Review: Someday my Prince Will Come by Jerramy Fine

I'm going to start off by saying that when I first heard about Someday my Prince Will Come I immediately thought it was fiction. Indeed, it is actually categorized as Adult fiction at my local library.* How can someone realistically pursue their dream to become a princess? It seemed implausible. And to her credit, in James Frey style, Jerramy acknowledges that at the start. This is indeed a true story.

I'll be honest, based on the premise of this book - a woman who sets her sights on finding a prince - I was prepared to humor her. But page after page it became clear that Jerramy is dead serious. And once the initial scepticism wore off I started to admire her chutzpah. The way she pursues her goal is not so unrealistic after all. It actually starts to make sense.

Jerramy, raised in a small town, feels it is her destiny to become a princess and marry Peter Philips, the son of Princess Anne. She chooses a university that has a study abroad program, ending up in the U.K. An affinity for all things English (Referring to Tony Blair: "seriously, can you name a sexier world leader?"), leads her to return to the U.K to study at the London School of Economics, where she whirls from party to party in her quest to find Peter Philips. Understandably, not all of her tactics are successful. But she perseveres and along the way she ends up in India, gets her heart broken, evicted, almost deported, and has to contend with some crazy and colorful flatmates. Touching and humorous, but not necessarily the stuff of fairy tales.

The book has a rather charming prologue: Jerramy, as a child discovering her destiny. It would be easy to continue to focus on the dream, but that would make her seem naïve. Chapter One brings us back to reality with an exchange between Jerramy and one of her more outspoken naysayers. But at no point is there a plea for sympathy or understanding. Never for one moment did I feel sorry for her. This is a heroine that takes care of herself.

Her book has an intimacy to it, with helpful footnotes on English culture included. You almost feel as though you're having tea with Jerramy as she recounts her adventures. You can start to imagine her experiences - her nerve-racking meeting with Princess Anne. To too much information: her parents Christmas trip to a clothing-optional hot springs. Despite the implausibility of her goal, she's so likeable and entertaining, you start to root for Jerramy. Despite myself, I didn't expect to get so emotionally wrapped up in her story. Towards the end it actually brought tears to my eyes.

But like all fairy tales, her story eventually does come to an end. So, does she meet her prince? Does she live happily ever after?

I recommend you read the book and find out for yourself.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

* Strongly compelled to right a wrong, I emailed my local library, letting them know that her book had been categorized incorrectly. While I'll never know if I had anything to do with it, it's now listed as "Non-fiction".

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Recommended Books: Royal Jewels

I'll be honest. While I've collected royal books since I was a teenager, it wasn't until about 10 years ago that I developed an interest in Royal Jewels. Royal Jewels were the Crown Jewels - interesting, but who wants to stare at that all day? Royal Orders were just ribbons with pictures on them. Tiara's were just things royal brides wore on their wedding day. Luckily I've changed my views since then.

My article called Jewels fit for a Queen remains the most popular article I've ever written, followed closely by Royal Weddings. There are blogs and websites devoted to royal jewels, people just can't seem to get enough of them. Since I started my blog I've received some questions about royal jewels, here's one as an example. But sometimes I find that the question goes beyond my level of expertise (Yes, it's true, I don't know everything there is to know about royalty!). So if you want to know about royal jewels, where do you go for information? Thankfully there are some wonderful books out there.

The Royal Jewels by Suzy Menkes. This was the very first book I ever bought on the subject and it really and truly inspired me. Covering royal jewels from Queen Victoria's time to 1988. It is fairly comprehensive in terms of the highlights of the wearer, towards the end it features several Appendix, one of which lists all of the jewels worn by The Queen on State and Semi-State Occasions.

The Queen's Jewels: The Personal Collection of HM Queen Elizabeth II by Leslie Field.
I have poured over this book more so than any other book in my collection. That's how fascinated I am with it. This book features the personal jewellery collection of HM The Queen. If you've ever been curious about what she keeps in the vaults, this book will give you a very good idea. I would highly recommend this book as a good starting point on the subject.

Tiara's: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn. If you're interested in tiara's and their history then this is the book for you. Covering tiaras from 300 BC to 2001, you could look at this book just for the close-up photographs alone. But there's more to it than that. It shows the evolution of tiara's. There's an entire chapter alone on how to wear tiara's in your hair! I won't lie though, this book is expensive but well worth the price if you're truly interested in the subject. There's also a more condensed version of this book which accompanied the exhibition at the Victoria & Albert museum.

Queens' Jewels by Vincent Meylan. Unlike the previous books I've mentioned, along with British jewels, it also covers royal jewels from Russia, France, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Iran, Austria, Belgium and The Balkans. Yes there are more jewels out there than the British ones! It has a lot of intriguing, rarely seen photos and presents the various jewels and their history in vivid style.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Upcoming Royal Report - Sunday January 27th, 2008

The next Royal Reportwill be tonight 5:00PM PST (8:00PM EST)

The topic will be: After Paul Burrell's rather embarassing appearance at the Diana Inquest, has he finally cooked his own goose?

I hope you can join me!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Diana's mother love is nothing new

Diana was no saint.

There, I've said it. So why do people try to make her out to be? A recent Hello Magazine article her words of motherly 'wisdom' are being shared with the world: 'Rediscovered and published for the first time since her death - A Mother's poignant plea.' What will be rediscovered next? Diana's poignant words about fashion? global warming? men?

Let's see:

"Each step I take in my Manolo Blaknik's makes me one with the suffering of the world"

"Climate change starts with changing my hair products"

"Men can never understand giving birth"

Give it a break already.

I have several books about Diana, so I've probably read every variation on how wonderful she was. But when people try to put her on some sort of pedestal I get tired. No one is perfect, not even Diana. What can she possibly share with us about motherhood that is special, unique, gives mothers around the world guidance in raising their children? It's like those inspirational desk calendars or Chicken Soup for the Mother's soul - lip service wrapped in a saccharine, pink ribbon, chamomile tea, floral package.

"There are children who suffer in silence, holding on to their inner turmoil"

Zzz....*Yawn* Sorry, where was I? Aren't there organizations that recognize this already? Organizations that actually do something about this problem? Oh wait, yes, one of them comes to mind - it's called Save the Children! And guess who's working with them? Princess Anne. Will her poignant, less than photogenic, words of motherly wisdom be shared with us after her death?

I doubt it.

I admit, I have not read the Hello magazine article. Maybe doing so would tug at my heart strings and change my mind. Yes, knowing Diana's profound posthumous observations have made the world a better place. Or they could be on par with horrible teenage angst ridden poetry. Wince inducing and not worth revisiting.

No doubt someone will write a book or make a desk calendar about Diana's sayings; 365 days of paraphrased quotes. And it will provide inspiration to mother's everywhere. Or maybe it won't.

Either way, I'm not buying it.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Royal Report - Should Princesses Beatrice & Eugenie be using police protection?

Upcoming Royal Report - Sunday January 20th, 2008

The next Royal Report will be on Sunday January 20th 5:00PM PST (8:00PM EST).

The topic will be: Recent reports criticize the cost of protecting Princesses Beatrice & Eugenie of York, daughters of Prince Andrew.

The princesses are presently 5th & 6th in line to the throne. Do they need to be protected? Should they use police protection?

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Monday, January 14, 2008

Adventures in New York City

So I have just returned from my weekend in New York City where I attended the book launch party for Someday my Prince will come by Jerramy Fine. It was a rather impulsive trip - I don't normally go to New York City for the weekend. But I had a fantastic time and as you can see, I came back in one piece. Despite my expectations to the contrary, I found New Yorkers to be friendly and helpful.

I left on Friday January 11th. Going through Immigration I was met by a gum chewing officer who wore the name tag: Rodgrigues. The following exchange took place.

Rodgrigues: Is your trip for business or pleasure?

Me: Pleasure

Rodgrigues: What will you be doing while you are in New York?

Me: Attending a party for the launch of a book.

Rodgrigues: What book?

Me: It's called Someday my prince will come and it's about a woman who wants to become a princess and moves to London in order to find her prince.

Rodgrigues eyes narrowed. He looked sceptical.

Rodgrigues: Does she marry a Prince?

Me: No

Rodrigues: So how does her situation resolve itself?

Me: I don't know, I haven't read the book!

Rodgrigues still looked sceptical but he stamped my paperwork and I was on my way.

I arrived late at night and went on a wild shuttle ride to get to my hotel, a few blocks from Times Square.

Saturday January 12th

Started the day by visiting the WTC site. I have a non-royal story idea I'm working on so I felt somewhat compelled to go there. It was strange to ask for directions to the site, as if I was looking for a tourist attraction. But I have to say that I was disappointed that there was no proper area to view the site. Or that other than a list of those who'd died, there was no type of real tribute. The noise from the construction drowned out any sense of respect towards the victims.

After visiting, I was off to find The Strand bookstore. With 55,000 square feet of space, it is a book lovers paradise. However, with minimal space in my carry-on, I was on a mission to find one book: the Diana, Princess of Wales Christie's catalogue for her dress auction in 1997. Having coveted this item for some time, I'm happy to say it is now part of my collection. Behold.

I had lunch and I was then off to 5th avenue, which I eventually reached after getting lost on the subway system. Mecca for window shoppers, my focus was on the toy store FAO Swartz and Tiffany's. At the toy store I saw the infamous piano from the movie Big. If you want one of your own it will set you back $250,000. I also visited St. Patrick's Cathedral and Rockefeller Centre.

After a day of window shopping, I went back to the hotel, had dinner and changed for the party. I arrived at Soho House, where the party bustled with friends and people from the publishing industry. The guest of honor circulated amongst the crowd and signed books. I finally managed to get a photo taken with her. Congratulations Jerramy!

Sunday January 13th.

My last morning in New York City was spent getting lost on the subway system, and taking long walks to my destination because of it. I eventually made my way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and by the end of the day my dogs were definitely barking.

Monday January 14th

I'm writing this article about my thoroughly enjoyable trip! I highly recommend visiting New York City if you get the chance. Albeit for longer than a weekend!

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Monday, January 07, 2008

What's wrong with wanting to be a princess?

Y'know. Every so often someone writes an article* about the negative impact of little girls dressing up as princesses and it really sticks in my craw. So I've decided to write about it, even though questioning this topic might look like I'm missing some sort of important point while living in the dark ages waiting to be rescued.

I understand that the Princess myth doesn't fit into reality. Write about the princess themed merchandise that makes up a $4.4 billion dollar industry and the phrases 'women's oppression,' 'bad role model,' and 'pandemic' inevitably come up. The hidden dangers lurk everywhere waiting to ensnare little girls with tiaras, dresses, puzzles, books, and movies. Speaking of movies, the Disney company "shamelessly profits" by releasing yet another princess movie. The conspiracy to appeal to little girls of all nationalities and cultures is clearly apparent with Disney's new African American princess.

Today's informed parent should protect all of their children from ever stepping foot in a toy store lest they be accosted by a princess themed item that their daughter cannot obviously live without. Shield the eyes of your child. Take the moral high ground when you see Princess costumes in the street on Halloween. Tsk tsk, you say to yourself. If only those parents knew that they were perpetuating a myth, that it's unhealthy for little girls to dress up and pretend. Better to focus your efforts on moulding your child into your definition of success.

It's easy to use Diana or Princess Masako of Japan as a parable of how royalty doesn't live happily ever after. Or speculate on the downfall of royal marriages. Extreme examples only show the one side. Must we rewrite Cinderella, revealing the cold hard reality to our children? Isn't this why those stories end with 'And they lived happily ever after?' The story-tellers knew the reality way back then didn't they? Another conspiracy. But useful. When feminists run out of things to write, at least they've got the princess myth to complain about.

Sometimes I wonder whether we're not giving our children enough credit for being able to see past this fantasy. Children who once believed in Santa Claus are not scarred for life once they find out he isn't real. Must the desire to have the latest Princess barbie doll lead to the downfall of the women's movement? Is it really that important?

Obviously to some, it is. But do those same people analyse the impact on society when boys pretend to be knights in shining armour? Isn't that just as unrealistic? Maybe I'm biased because of my interest in royalty. Or the fact that as a little girl, I too wanted to be a princess. I eventually grew out of it because it was just a dream. Regardless of how unrealistic, I won't stop my daughter from dressing up like a princess, or playing make believe with the idea. Because there's nothing wrong with it.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

* This article was inspired by a posting on the World of Royalty Blog.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Upcoming Royal Report - Sunday January 6, 2008

The next Royal Report will be broadcast on Sunday January 6th - 5:00PM PST (8:00PM EST).

The topic will be: Do the royals have a right to complain about their lives or is it just a perpetual bad day at the office for them?

© Marilyn Braun 2007