Diana in Search of Herself: Portrait of a Troubled Princess

Sally Bedell Smith, Author Times Books $25 (464p) ISBN 978-0-8129-3030-6
Devotees who remember Princess Diana as a beautiful, warm-hearted mother dedicated to good works, whom an adulterous husband and the British Royal family unfairly victimized, will find little comfort in this treatment of her life. Smith relentlessly but convincingly portrays Diana as a woman with severe psychological problems (characterized here as a ""borderline personality"") who never overcame a serious eating disorder and was unable to sustain relationships. Based on research and interviews with Diana's friends, Smith (Reflected Glory: The Life of Pamela Harriman) carefully presents Diana's childhood as darkened by divorce and neglect, leaving Diana with deep feelings of unworthiness; by the time of her marriage she was, Smith contends, not only a bulimic but also a pathological liar. According to Smith, Prince Charles had completely severed relations with Camilla Parker-Bowles out of determination to make his marriage work, and did not revive his affair with her until the relationship with his wife fell apart. Diana, certain that Charles was still seeing Camilla from the date of their wedding, retaliated with a series of tawdry romances, and also engaged in self-mutilation, binge eating and other erratic behaviors that alienated Charles. Though Smith acknowledges that the princess dearly loved her sons, she also describes occasions when Diana placed emotional demands on them that they were too young to handle. This is a sharply etched and engrossing study of an insecure and emotionally damaged woman coming apart at the seams. Photos not seen by PW. 11-city tour; 20-city TV and radio satellite tour. First serial to People magazine. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1999
Release date: 08/01/1999
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