three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
30-Sept-Oct-2007
By: 
Tina Brown
user_rating: 
0

A-The Diana ChroniclesFrom her loveless marriage to Prince Charles to her last fling with Dodi Fayed, Princess Diana still remains a mythical figure in the public imagination. Tina Brown, former editor of Tatler, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker, maintains that throughout her short, tragic life, Diana, whom she knew personally, never managed to separate fantasy from reality. Brown explores all facets of Diana’s life, including her scheming family, her scant education, her relationships with the Queen, her philanthropic endeavors, her affairs and divorce, and her courting of—and victim to—celebrity culture. Brown concludes that Diana, who learned how to manipulate the media, devastated the royal family and forever broke its code of silence.
Doubleday. 542 pages. $27.50. ISBN: 0385517084

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"In return for its rumored $2 million advance, it includes shovelfuls of hot fresh dirt, tucked among the standard (and amazingly detailed) iconic fare. … Brown is no Shakespeare. But she gives us a walloping good read." Diana McLellan

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Tina Brown breathes new life into the saga of this royal ‘icon of blondness’ by astutely revealing just how powerful, and how marketable, her story became in the age of modern celebrity journalism. … One of the more striking revelations in The Diana Chronicles is that it was the media just as much as the royal family—ready for Charles to stop dithering and settle down—that propelled him into marriage with a woman he didn’t love." Caroline Weber

Wall Street Journal 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Tina Brown spares us none of the unchaste detail in her account of Diana’s life, written in a peppery, haut-tabloid style … but with none of the narrative saliva that one might associate with grubby scandal sheets. … Since she was a woman who unleashed an epic destruction, we are entitled to be interested in her as theater, too—and in her story as a spectacle: a psychodrama, a morality play, a pageant of recklessness and revenge, of passion and pity, of loneliness and looniness." Tunku Varadarajan

Los Angeles Times 3 of 5 Stars
"This book is the closest I’ll ever get to knowing Diana, the late Princess of Wales: a woman mesmerizing and charming one moment, manipulative and calculating the next … all affection and confiding phone calls one week, and the next, the coldest, best-dressed shoulder in England." Patt Morrison

New York Times 3 of 5 Stars
"The Diana Chronicles is a Diana book with much more smart, snarky flair than most. But it is still a Diana book that is built on earlier ones. And the others have such varied provenance and reliability that Ms. Brown’s methods raise some questions." Janet Maslin

Critical Summary

There are few who could delve as successfully into Princess Di’s life as the celebrated Tina Brown, who combines her journalistic savvy with the gossip only an insider could know. While she stresses Diana’s role in changing the relationship between the press and the House of Windsor, Brown offers plenty of juicy details, "varying from credible to melodramatic to weirdly sitcomlike" (New York Times)—from Diana’s sexual relationship (remember Squidgy?) with Charles to her insecurities, her bulimia, the castles, the rivalries. Diana comes off as a bundle of contradictions, which was part of her appeal. If The Diana Chronicles is, in the end, a book partially built on others, it is nonetheless "a trashy (if delicious) tale … rendered vividly mordant" (Wall Street Journal).