11 March 2012
Book Review: Princess Diana, The Day She Didn't Die
When I first heard about this book by Heath Samples, I thought, "Oh no, not another Diana survival fantasy." As my readers know, I am not of the opinion that Diana was a saint--I was in no mood for any kind of book that might portray her that way. I was pleasantly surprised to find a very human Diana at the center of Samples' book. This Diana is still struggling to find normalcy in her unique world. She is searching for who she is, what she wants and what she believes. Is this the real Diana? Who knows? Could Diana have followed this path? Perhaps.
The book opens in the middle of the action on that final night in Paris. The narrative here is intentionally fragmented, in much the way that Diana might have perceived the events around her. After her survival, the novel splits into two separate narratives: Diana's own story and the story of Ella, a university student and Diana admirer whose personal story begins to mirror Diana's. In many ways, I enjoyed Ella's story more than Diana's, perhaps because I didn't have to suspend my belief in her case.
For me, "Princess Diana, The Day She Didn't Die" is a compelling story, with an inviting narrative structure. However, there were two things that bothered me. First, a key motivation for Diana's behavior simply vanishes without explanation halfway into the book. Second, the characters of Prince William and Prince Harry always seemed younger than the real princes would have been.
Overall, I think the book is a good read. It offers compelling storytelling, examines the inner workings of two confused women looking for their places in the world, and, frankly, I couldn't put it down.
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