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Publisher's Summary

A witty and profound audiobook portrait of the most talked-about English royal.

She made John Lennon blush and Marlon Brando tongue-tied. She iced out Princess Diana and humiliated Elizabeth Taylor. Andy Warhol photographed her. Jack Nicholson offered her cocaine. Gore Vidal revered her. Francis Bacon heckled her. Peter Sellers was madly in love with her. For Pablo Picasso, she was the object of sexual fantasy.

Princess Margaret aroused passion and indignation in equal measures. To her friends, she was witty and regal. To her enemies, she was rude and demanding. In her 1950s heyday, she was seen as one of the most glamorous and desirable women in the world. By the time of her death in 2002, she had come to personify disappointment. One friend said he had never known an unhappier woman. The tale of Princess Margaret is Cinderella in reverse: hope dashed, happiness mislaid, life mishandled.

Such an enigmatic and divisive figure demands a reckoning that is far from the usual fare. Combining interviews, parodies, dreams, parallel lives, diaries, announcements, lists, catalogues, and essays, Craig Brown’s Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret is a kaleidoscopic experiment in biography and a witty meditation on fame and art, snobbery and deference, bohemia and high society.

©2017 Craig Brown (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Carole T.
  • Shepherdstown, WV, United States
  • 08-10-18

Kind of A Glorious Waste of Time

This is a very different sort of biography, and it's both entertaining and (no word but appalling will do).

The world has watched the current royal family suffer through scandal after scandal while the poor, loyal and blameless Queen soldiers on. As observers, we are intrigued, astonished, and even a bit pleased to see that all is not roses and caviar for the very rich and very famous.

Of course, the highest Royals are more than famous - but for what, exactly? Surely even they don't believe in "divine rights" anymore. Politically, they are restricted to uttering platitudes than can neither offend nor appear to express an opinion. If they attempt to fit into the "real" world by getting jobs, they are accused of pandering influence; if they follow the family tradition of cutting ribbons and traveling the world at taxpayers' expense, they are accused of being useless spongers.

HRH the Princess Margaret certainly epitomizes the complexities of negotiating that sort of life. It's difficult not to both sympathize with and laugh at her with scorn. Unlike some of the more recent and younger royals who have married into and subsequently embarrassed the family, she had absolutely no choice in her position. From early childhood, it was proscribed for her: she would be the runner-up; her status changing downward with the birth of each nephew, niece, grand-nephew or -niece, forever and ever. She would live by confining and often antiquated rules, and it would be best, of course, to do so with no complaints and a stiff upper lip.

Pretty hard to imagine anyone who could do so! Margaret suffered and messed up, often publicly and always (forgive me!) royally. In light, however, of more recent royal offenses by the likes of Diana and Fergie and Harry, much of the controversy and sensation of Margaret's life has taken a back burner (just like that poor woman constantly had to!). With this book and the recent television series "The Crown", she has been temporarily called back to center stage for a new round of shock and awe.

So this book has the usual appeal of schadenfreude - a slightly guilty delight. What's different here is the style of presentation. There's not a dreary outline of important dates, no sequential telling of events. Craig Brown instead gives us a mish-mash of impressions - from news stories, diaries, accounts of friends and acquaintances. Princess Margaret is seen from all kinds of angles, and what emerges is a mixture of contempt, humor, sadness, and even touching humanity in this least-likely of heroines.

She wasn't extraordinary, she wasn't exemplary, she wasn't exactly a wasted opportunity. Instead, Margaret mostly comes across as trapped and lonely - and her story is mostly that she couldn't "keep calm and carry on" in the circumstances. Can we blame her for that?

Salacious? Yep! A waste of time? Probably. But this listening experience certainly appeals to our appreciation of the sublime and ridiculous in the world. And the narrator is absolutely first rate!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Awful! Simply awful.

Who cares about this spoiled brat? It's embarrassing. I'm afraid her alcoholism led to her demise simply because people looked the other way. A life wasted. Sad.

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Glimpses is accurate

After watching "The Crown" on Netflix, I looked for a book on Audible about Princess Margaret. I found her story one of the most interesting and wanted to know everything possible about the tragic, glamorous and ultimately wasted life. At the time, I could not find any books about her, but when this showed up on Audible I snapped it up.

This book is a little confusing, because the author at times goes into a strange side story of "what if this happened, or that happened" (that did not happen)... for that reason I had to do some fact checking as I listened. I couldn't always keep straight the imagination of the author and the actual history. I found myself thinking more than once, "that didn't happen... did it?? I would have known!!" However, this is like "The Crown," and so it didn't take away too much from the story.

I enjoyed the most the re-telling of apocryphal stories from different sources, juxtaposed to show that her reputation could be many different things depending on the person telling the story. I liked that the story talked about all stages of her life, not just the more famous moments. Overall, I enjoyed listening to this book a lot.

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Fascinating

A wonderful way of capturing a woman both infuriating and sympathetic. I wish it was longer!

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Just horrible!

I was so excited about this book but after 5 chapters, it is going back. This is a book about nothing. There is no substance at all to it. It is rambling and unfocused and just simply horrible!!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful