Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Royal Review: Princess Diana - The Day She Didn't Die

Based on the title it would be easy to dismiss this book as yet another attempt to reincarnate Diana. Other books have tried and, in my opinion, have fallen short. Mainly in terms of the complete lack of plausibility. Therefore I approached this book with skepticism. Surprisingly, I found myself gripped from the start.

One of the main things that sets this novel apart from the competition is that Diana is not only alive, she hasn't taken drastic measures to escape from the past. The car accident happened. Another car was involved and the Mercedes hit the pillar. The driver died, there is no Trevor Rees-Jones, but Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed survived.

When Diana died, many unanswered questions remained. Was Diana just having a fling with Dodi? Were they engaged to be married? Was she pregnant? Was someone trying to kill her? Princess Diana - The Day She Didn't Die tries to answer them by fictionalizing what Diana's life would have been like in the aftermath of the accident.

Dodi Al Fayed's reported reputation as a playboy while alive is replaced by a responsible businessman, more than capable of holding his own with Diana and the complications that come with her. To their credit, the authors do not take the easy route by reducing Diana to a charicature based on public perception.

People viewed Diana in a variety of ways. She was seen as a fairytale princess, a fashion icon, and someone who had great influence. Despite her divorce, the interest in Diana would not have ended but instead evolved. To gauge the public response to her new life with Dodi Al Fayed, we have the perspective of a university student named Ella. Because of Diana, Ella is also exploring Islam and experiences similiar conflicts while dating a Muslim, albeit on a smaller scale.

One of the biggest unanswered questions is whether Diana would have converted to Islam. While interesting, I found there to be too much emphasis on religion and the effect on their relationship. While understandable under the circumstances, there should have been more to her existence. Given her seeming addiction to the limelight, it's hard to imagine Diana giving up her global role; no matter how much she loves Dodi. In life, taking a backseat never seemed to be Diana's style, and it's unrealistic to expect otherwise.

The role of the royal family is minimized to occasional visits from her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry and a guest appearance by a disapproving Prince Charles. Yet there is also the interesting possibilities of what Diana's role would have been as a de facto member of the royal family which remain unexplored.

Covering the period from the 1997 car accident to the September 11th, 2001 attacks the ending is somewhat abrupt, leaving more questions than answers. Seemingly on the verge of converting, there are many possibilities that could have been explored, with not only Diana's continued reluctance to embrace Islam, but also Dodi's potential complications in the aftermath of 9/11.  Given everything they went through up to that point, it's interesting to contemplate whether their relationship could have withstood this development.

As in real life, we will never really know. But this book takes an effective, realistic and plausible attempt at imagining what could have been without resorting to happily ever after.

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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7 comments:

Janice said...

Perhaps the opening for a sequel?

Marilyn Braun said...

I can see it now, 'The new adventures of dead Diana'

Diana said...

I purchased the book after reading the post and I literally could not put it down. It was great! Such an interesting perspective on Diana and seeing what her life could have been. I was definitely not satisfied with the ending though. Do you know of any other books like this? Novelizations of Diana's life or what her life could have been? I really enjoyed it! Thanks!!

Marilyn Braun said...

It is a really good book and I could not put it down either. Glad to hear you enjoyed it too.

There are a few books about Diana escaping from her royal existence -Monica Ali's book Untold Story, where she fakes her own death and takes on a completely new identity in the United States. It was okay. Royal Escape by Susan Froetschel, which is about Diana in the run up to leaving. Again she fakes her death and escapes. That was ok too. There's another book, but I think it's only in French called Lady Di, written by Irene Frain - and I've heard it also deals with her life had she lived.

What I've found with most novels in the Diana isn't dead type genre is that they're okay but not great. Most rely on thinly veiled, one dimensional versions of Diana, which add no depth to her character. I was genuinely surprised that this book was good because up until that point I had not read anything I was particularly impressed by.

I did not like the ending at all which is disappointing because the book is very good otherwise. Maybe that was the author's intent. Not to give all of the answers but to offer a glimpse of what her life would have been like had she made smarter decisions.

Princess Diana- The Day She Didn't Die said...

Hi

I am really pleased to hear you enjoyed the book. I know the ending left some questions unanswered but I felt that I couldn't cram too much about Diana's future life into one book.

This novel is one of three I have planned but initially, I wanted to see the response to the first novel. The responses have been superb so pen will soon be to paper for book two...


We are revising this novels book cover to include
"Part 1 of the Diana Trilogy"

Plans are being put in place to launch the novel in the USA so I'll keep you updated.

Best regards

Heath Samples

Marilyn Braun said...

Hi Heath,

Thanks for dropping by!

Yes, your book is excellent. I literally could not put it down.

I realize that yes, you couldn't put everything about Diana's life into one book. Nice to hear that there will be more. I look forward to hearing about them in the future.

Take care,

Marilyn

Rhia Roberts said...

Oh goodness, I hope she is alive and happy. Being Welsh myself, I feel an affinity with Di. One of the best comments I've had about my writing was when a friend who knows Prince Charles said that Di would have liked what I wrote.

Rhia at http://dr-rhia.blogspot.com/2012/02/greater-than.html