Summary and book reviews of Diana In Search of Herself by Sally Bedell Smith

Diana In Search of Herself

A Portrait of a Troubled Princess

by Sally Bedell Smith

Diana In Search of Herself
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  • First Published:
    Sep 1999, 451 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2000, 560 pages

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Book Summary

Original in its reporting and surprising in its conclusions about the severity of Diana's mental-health problems, this is the smartest and most substantive biography ever written about Diana.

Diana in Search of Herself is the first authoritative biography of one of the most fabled women of the century. Even those who knew Princess Diana will be surprised by author Sally Bedell Smith's insightful and haunting portrait of Diana's inner life.

For all that has been written about Diana--the books, the commemorative magazines, the thousands of newspaper articles--we have lacked a sophisticated understanding of the woman, her motivations and her extreme needs. Most books have been exercises in hagiography or character assassination, sometimes both in the same volume. Sally Bedell Smith, the acclaimed biographer, former New York Times reporter, and Vanity Fair contributing editor, has written the first truly balanced and nuanced portrait of the princess of Wales, in all her emotional complexity.

Drawing on scores of interviews with friends and associates who had not previously talked about Diana, Ms. Smith explores the events and relationships that shaped the Princess, the flashpoints that sent her careening through life, her deep feelings of unworthiness, her view of men, and her perpetual journey toward a better sense of self. By making connections not previously explored, this book allows readers to see Diana as she really was, from her birth to her tragic death.

Original in its reporting and surprising in its conclusions about the severity of Diana's mental-health problems, Diana in Search of Herself is the smartest and most substantive biography ever written about this mesmerizing woman.

Diana was driving through the English countryside one day in 1984 with Michael Shea, press secretary to the Queen, when they noticed a huge billboard ahead with an enormous photograph of Diana's face. "Oh no!" Diana exclaimed. "What's that?" As they came closer, they could see that the billboard was an advertisement for a book that had been written about her. Diana buried her face in her hands, exclaiming that she could no longer tell where her public image stopped and her private self began.

She spoke those words three years into her marriage to Prince Charles, but her anguished confusion stayed with her to the end. From the moment she stepped into the limelight in September 1980 to her violent death seventeen years later, Diana was swept along in an ever-expanding persona, even as she searched frantically for her own identity. When she first appeared on the world stage, Lady Diana Spencer was a nineteen-year-old who had been raised with limited expectations: that she ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Publisher's Weekly

.. a sharply etched and engrossing study of an insecure and emotionally damaged woman coming apart at the seams.

Publisher's Weekly

.. a sharply etched and engrossing study of an insecure and emotionally damaged woman coming apart at the seams.

Kirkus

An engrossing character study of the beautiful, brave, but psychologically bent princess who became an icon.

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If you liked Diana In Search of Herself, try these:

  • Diana jacket

    Diana

    by Tim Clayton, Phil Craig

    Published 2003

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    Not only captures the princess as she was, but also places her story in the context of twenty years of frantic social and economic change. It will stand as the ultimate, and ultimately most enlightening, telling of Diana's extraordinary life.

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