Within one week, two writers I admire very much have felt the need to resurrect Princess Diana.
The first, Monica Ali, gave the mother of princes William and Harry a fictional second shot at life in her book “Untold Story.” In it, Diana faked her own death and moved to the suburbs of the American Midwest. The New York Times book review gave it the cover slot on Sunday, only to demolish it inside.
“Clearly, Ali is capable of writing a novel about anything, including Diana,” Curtis Sittenfeld wrote. “But somehow ‘Untold Story’ has come out all wrong.”
Diana the suburban former mom (she leaves her sons behind) deals with the common travails of obnoxious girlfriends, the dating scene and the occasional stalking paparazzo.
Perhaps taking inspiration from the novel, Newsweek editor Tina Brown used the magazine’s latest cover to honor of what might have been the Princess of Wales’s 50th birthday.
“If she were here now,” the headline reads. Brown fills us in: She would have been “great-looking,” going the “J.Crew and Galliano route,” with an ample dose of Botox, bare buff arms and at least two marriages.
It’s interesting that both exhumations of Diana’s ghost seem to be public reinterpretations of the princess as a commoner. Ali and Brown, both recovering Brits, seem to want to revive the princess as the friend next door.
Perhaps memories of Diana are resurfacing because of all the attention going toward the newest member of the royal family, who was, in fact, just a commoner. Kate Middleton doesn’t present us with quite the soap opera saga as her predecessors-in-marrying-princes did. In fact, she doesn’t present us with much more than big smiles and fancy hats. Maybe recalling Diana is a sign the world is trying to grapple with the huge girl crush it has on Middleton — Brown has put her on four of the 15 covers of Newsweek since she took over the magazine, the New York Observer points out. Or maybe its just a sign that even wise women can’t help but love princesses, the flawed ones most of all.