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Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words by Andrew MortonMy heart, it bleeds...
This is easily the best biography Ive ever read. And its been a long time coming. Ever since I heard of this Ive wanted to read it. It just so happens that I was recently in St Johns and stopped to browse a local used bookshop, inside which I found a pristine copy of the book. It is also fitting that I read it during the summer that is the 20th anniversary of her death.
There is so much about this woman that I did not know. Or, if I knew it, I didnt know the extent to which it affected her life.
Her relationship with Charles. I learned so much about how it began, how it evolved, and how it ended. I was horrified to hear just how involved Camilla Parker-Bowles was from the very beginning. I always thought Parker-Bowles was introduced into the love triangle much later. I was mistaken. I felt the sadness, frustration, anger, resentment, and all other feelings that Diana felt as she watched her husband carry on an affair with Parker-Bowles during their marriage. There were dozens of meetings behind closed doors, romantic letters exchanged, phone calls had, all to knowledge of the tortured Lady Diana who had no other option but to sit idly by and allow this to go on.
I, myself, am clinically diagnosed with anxiety. So, when I read about her eating disorder, I couldnt help but empathise with her, because I know what its like to be at the complete mercy of your own brain. But, the book is written well enough that you dont need to personally have been affected by a mental disorder to understand that it is painful and tortuous. And it certainly doesnt help when youre being dragged through a troubled marriage in front of billions of watchful eyes. We all have our down days. Now, amplify it to the size of the entire planet; Dianas survival shows the triumph of an incredible woman and human. I think its the love she shared, and received, from complete strangers that saved her. And a little love here and there might just be what saves us all.
Andrew Morton brilliantly captured the mood of Dianas tenure as Princess of Wales. I understood just how lonely and isolating it was for Diana, and I found myself just wanting to jump into the pages, back in time, to grab her hand and take her with me somewhere safe. Imagine having your every move followed, literally photographed, every second of every day of your life. I am not sure there is a person alive today who understands what she went through (perhaps Monica Lewinsky). Her rise to infamy played out during a time when technology was just beginning to flourish into a mass media-instant communication frenzy.
In this story I felt the real Diana, the woman who just wanted to be loved, and yet had so much love to give. She famously said, Someones got to go out there and love those people and show it. For me this captures the essence of this incredible figure in our history. And isnt it true, that often the people who are most loving and happy on the outside, are often the most unhappy inside. Its the mark of a true heroine to have been able to get on with each day spreading the love she felt the world deserved, regardless of her own internal conflicts. It takes courage to put on a smile when every muscle in your body is telling you to frown.
Diana brought world attention to major causes, namely HIV/Aids awareness and abolishing landmines globally. She had an uncanny gift with comforting the ill and dying. Yet, as it so often happens today with successful women, Dianas accomplishments were often overshadowed by trivial and meaningless things such as what she was wearing, or something Charles did or said, no matter how minor. Her work was important. Her simply being present with a person with Aids, or a with a person who lost their limbs to a landmine, woke up the masses to very real and serious issues. Its why I believe famous figures should more often yield their power for good. Whether we like it or not, people revere the famous, and they stand up and pay attention when a famous person draws eyes to an issue.
What I found peculiar and awesome was that Diana seemed sometimes to have premonitions of events which would then take place. In a few instances, people even thought she was psychic. Perhaps the most significant and heartbreaking premonition is when she felt quite strongly that the Establishment was trying to kill her (more specifically, by means of causing a vehicle accident, which gives me shivers). Not that Im on one side or the other on the conspiracy of her death (I remain agnostic on this matter still), but coming from a woman who accurately predicted other things in her life - well, it makes you wonder...
Ive shelved this on my memoir shelf, because most of the material comes from Dianas very lips, and its the closest thing we will ever have to a memoir for her. In this commemorative edition, Morton has included the real transcripts from some of the interview tapes on which she answered his questions during the writing of the biography. I was glued to the pages.
And now for my chief complaint, which is minor, but something that irritated me to no end. The dreaded MISSING oxford comma! Grrrrr! It should be illegal to publish a book without first making sure all oxford commas are in place.
I wrap up this review with a direct quote from the book. Andrew Morton wrote:
As historians reflect on her renown and her legacy, they will come to judge Diana, Princess of Wales as one of the most influential figures of this, or any other, age. For as long as there are poets, playwrights and men with hearts to break, tales will be told of the princess who died across the water and returned home to be crowned a queen, the queen of all our hearts. Diana, Princess of Wales. She wrote poetry in our souls. And made us wonder.
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That's the price you pay Leave behind your heart and cast away Just another product of today Rather be the hunter than the prey. Looking through the glass find the wrong within the past knowing We are youth Cut until it bleeds inside a world without the peace, face it. Boomerang How many lies do we have to tell? To keep from saying that I wish you well. How many tears do we have to cry? How many sleepless lonely nights?