The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown

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The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown

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Category: Biography
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Trish Simpson-Davis
Reviewed by Trish Simpson-Davis
Summary: A rational, intelligent, at times salacious account of Princess Diana's life in which it turns out that most of the gossip was either true or hid an even worse truth. Tina Brown is unlikely to be invited to Buckingham Palace in the near future.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 528 Date: July 2011
Publisher: Arrow
ISBN: 978-0099568353

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The Diana Chronicles was first published in 2007, ten years after Diana's untimely death (forgive me if I proffer information that you already know, but prior to reading this book, I was one of the small group of people in this country happily oblivious to the Princess Diana industry). The book has been re-released in shocking pink, white and gold livery, as a 'commemorative edition' to coincide with The Royal Wedding. A fanciful Foreword now imagines Diana's life and reaction to Will and Kate's marriage, had she survived.

It must have taken some years from Diana's death to create sufficient emotional distance from the razzamatazz of her life, for the author to attempt an in-depth investigation. Tina Brown was editor of Tatler magazine when Diana married Charles, Prince of Wales and was therefore in a close position to observe the ensuing years. Trawling through the recollections of 250 former friends, relations, lovers, servants, enemies and associates to arrive at a balanced view of 'the truth' is some feat, particularly when it's so well-written. What I particularly liked was that, rather than apportioning blame, Tina Brown never forgot that each of the major players in the Diana soap opera was a human, trying to cope under the relentless surveillance of the media.

At times, the particularities that the author produced were so intimate and revealing that I felt that I was violating the privacy of the characters. On the other hand, those little details explained so much. As a little girl, Diana lived on the Sandringham Estate. A nanny recollects her as a cheery five-year-old girl, playing hide-and-seek with the Queen and Prince Andrew. When Prince Charles wanders in that day, he is seventeen. This little vignette tells us so much: that Diana was already inside the Royal circle, and that Charles was of a different generation: shy Di? Ah, not all was as it seemed in The Sun headlines. And I do wonder how anyone's self-esteem survived the harassment of the paparazzi, let alone the coping with the life-style changes of suddenly metamorphosing from nanny and ex-cleaner to Royal princess.

Of course many of the details are far more sleazy than a mere childish game. And here we have to rely on Tina Brown's integrity and investigative skills to point us in the direction of the likely truth. It was clear to the author that Diana often orchestrated revenge, no more so than in tackling Camilla's affair with Charles head on in the notorious Panorama interview. I was left with the uncomfortable impression that most of the contemporary headlines were true – and if they weren't, they were usually masking an even more sensational reality.

Whatever you think of Diana, the Royal Family or their Press treatment, this book is never dull and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending it.

Suggestions for further reading:

If you enjoyed reading this book, then maybe The Insider, Piers Morgan's contemporaneous account of his time as a newspaper editor, might also appeal.

Buy The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown at Amazon.com.

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