Big Houses, Fancy Dress, National Tragedy
However, Manderley is spelled wrong. Seriously. Someone said she mixes her Austen references, but I thought that was kind of intentional? Whatever.
Back to Rebecca. One of the reasons it's such a brilliant book is that it combines two things Brit lit has historically been good at: romance-and-repression (that's the first thing) and murder mystery (that's two). In both of these narrative formulae, there is only one solution - one true love, one guilty party. And the whole novel long you are waiting to find out who it is, even if you already know. Or you're waiting to find out how, exactly, it's possible.
Diana's story is the same. A romance and a murder mystery.
The book is well researched, for sure. And I love it when Brown includes history of the Tatler coverage of Diana, written in the first person. Or first person plural, hooray! The royal we, as they say.
But as a biography, it isn't quite smart enough. With this subject matter, it could even be a history, if it were much, much smarter. Brown ought to defer more to the psychological "insights" of Diana's acquaintances. While these would be ridiculous and not, in any way, true, this approach might cumulatively create a richer picture of the bizarre time and place Brown is trying to capture. Psychological insights from Brown (there are way, way too many) sound a little short-sighted and naive.
So, that's my somewhat disjointed, idiosyncratic book review of Diana Chronicles. Maybe it's more of a book report, like the kind you did in third grade, with projects, or costumes. I'm dressed as Mrs. Danvers.