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Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret

Narrated by: Eleanor Bron
Length: 12 hrs and 23 mins
4 out of 5 stars (131 ratings)
Regular price: $35.69
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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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    4 out of 5 stars
  • 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!

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Soars with Occasional Scream-Inducing Crashes

OK, OK, for the most part this is fine and gives us a detailed look into the life of Princess M. But it definitely should have been more like "75 Glimpses" as this thing is padded with some infuriating chapters. Chief of which is notorious Chapter 32, in which the author tells the same, brief story in dozens of different literary styles. Worse, you think the styles are alphabetically but when you get to the one that begins with a later letter like Z (can't remember and not going back to look), he jumps back around the alphabet. I have never screamed out loud in agony over an audiobook like I did at this point. Was going to stop reading but gave it another chance. To come were some cutesy essays about her being married to Salvador Dali and some "what-ifs" that are just pointless and do nothing but put the author front and center instead of telling Margaret's story. Oh yeah and one of the last chapters where he just goes on an on about auction items after her death and the reading of many, many inscriptions. This torture is barely worth it, but what's good is good. Still, just writing about Chapter 32 makes my blood boil.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Delightful!

Craig Brown's compilation of vignettes of HRH The Princess Margaet's life create a multi-faceted, very humorous, and poignant biography juxtaposes the anachronism of the monarch against the cultural and political changes of the twentieth century. Elanor Bron's performance is brilliant and award-worthy. If you are a royalist, listen to this book!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fascinating

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Pita
  • Miami
  • 09-02-18

High Camp Alert

I had a good laugh with this book. In my reading it was very tongue in cheek and it needs to be taken that way, or else you will start thinking about Her Royal Highness as a monster. As far as I know she was never ostracized because of her behavior and her company was highly sought by the jet set so people most have taken her at times atrociously rude behavior with a grain of salt. Either that or a certain group in society is willing to be humiliated to be close to royalty and if that is the case they deserved what they got from her.
I had fun reading this book. I am very interested in English royalty....I find them very entertaining. This is a fast read and it is written as vignettes narrating some of Margaret’s most outrageous treatment of others. You can easily read between the lines that HRH was a very unhappy individual but she was also incredibly beautiful, glamorous and rich so....another tale of the problems of the privilege.
I recommend the book. It is entertaining, at times funny and...yes...informative. If you enjoy The Crown, you will enjoy this.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A bio that deconstructs the notion of biography

Very entertaining and atypical bio of a perfect subject for the writer's methodology. Excellent.

Superb narration.

A far better portrait of its subject than the book's detractors would have us believe.

A fav.

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Like an Automobile Accident, One can not help but Look

This audiobook is quite captivating. It’s like a clip show, with just the height-lights, or more often, low points, strung together.

This is for the typical person with no real knowledge of Princess Margaret beyond watching The Crown.
Many of the exerts of her life will be vaguely familiar to someone who has thumbed through a biography or two.

Eleanor Bron’s various “character” voices are well done, however her “narrating” voice becomes rather monotonous and at times harsh. Perhaps this added atmosphere to the work filled with so many awkward accounts of an unpleasant person, but I found that while I was still interested in the story, I needed an occasional break from the grating, sometimes lifeless voice.

Perhaps I’m being overly critical, but I think that would please the Princess, don’t you?

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    2 out of 5 stars
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too dry for me

may be interesting to true royal enthusiasts but was too dry for me . the performance was too monotone.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Tedious

I expected a memoir or biographical account. Much of it is gossip and opinioning recorded by others. Still, the author was very skilled at capturing and illustrating the social sadism within the circles Margaret swam in and accounts for some of the misery the woman had to endure. You will gain something new from reading the book and I think it would anybody's worthwhile to read it. There are some small novelettes inserted and imaginary happenings that you may have to sort out for yourself. A fantasy marriage to Picasso and some other wanderings way off the beaten track. This was the first book I ever read relative to the Princess. I don't think she had the fairy tale life many assumed she might have had. You can be glad when you are done that this was not a life you found yourself parked in.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful