Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


The Diana Chronicles: a Pop Review

(Okay, first, does anyone else using Blogger know why I can't type this post's title into the title box? Couldn't do it using my Mac in Firefox, now I can't do it using my work PC. Strange, no?)

Even if you were not an avid Diana-watcher since her marriage to Prince Charles, and even if you did not get up at some ungodly hour in September, 1997 to watch many hours of her funeral coverage, you may still want to read The Diana Chronicles. Tina Brown, whose journalistic star's ascendance, as editor-in-chief of Tatler mirrored (indeed, was fueled by) her subject's own meteoric rise to fame, certainly knows Diana well, and has done her research. Sadly, it's not a wholly satisfying read.

Well, how could it be? We all know the terrible end Diana met, and her inability (refusal?) to get past her neediness and her taste for exactly the wrong sort of man is wearisome and repetitive. Maybe she would have gotten it right in her lovelife eventually, but of course, we'll never know. Some of what's here is fascinating: Diana's heartbreaking background as a child of a particularly nasty divorce, the utter failure of her parents to secure anything resembling a good education for her (has this book ever put the lie to the notion that a boarding school education is by definition a good one -- damn!), her brilliance at public relations. I also found Brown's portrait of the Royal Family surprisingly sympathetic: I no longer hate Prince Philip, and I view Prince Charles as both heroic (in his environmentalist views & practices) and pathetic (in his romantic misadventures). I found myself unable to finish the book (and not just because there are close to 30 holds on it at my library), mostly because I just couldn't bear to read about one more disastrous love affair, about how she & Charles kept knifing each other in the back -- there could have been real love there, and they both squandered the opportunity -- and because I couldn't bring myself to read the end of the book, where Diana's death left her two boys motherless.

Tina Jordan's review in EW found Brown's tone shrewish and catty, but I saw none of it. This is a clear-eyed account of what made Diana tick, and on that level, it succeeds admirably.

I know this is by no means a ground-shattering review -- libraries that were going to buy this book have already got it flying off their shelves -- but it's what I've been reading while I wait for Mr. Potter, and I wanted to share.

ETA: there were some annoying typos, too -- Brown refers to the great house in Rebecca as "Mandalay", when it's "Manderley", and mixes up the villains in two Jane Austen novels. Tsk, tsk.

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  • At 9:34 PM, Blogger Carlie said…

    I had that problem when I went to post on Saturday. I use Camino on my Mac and I could not post a subject line for the life of me. After I posted, I went back and edited the post in Safari and everything was fine.

    Okay, so I'm no help, but perhaps I can at least reassure you that you are not crazy?

  • At 12:00 PM, Blogger Sophie Brookover said…

    Thanks, Carlie! Maybe I'll try editing it in Safari at home.

    Also, I am a little bit crazy, but it's reassuring to know that I'm not crazy in that particular way.


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