Review: Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown

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Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown | Rating: ★★★☆☆

This was one my most anticipated reads this year. Yes, I am perfectly aware that it was published before this year. However, it was new to me. Ever since I was a little girl, I'd been intrigued Princess Margaret in spite of the fact  that I'd never been too interested in the lives of royals. I found Princess Margaret to be utterly glamorous and a little rebellious and proper I knew very little of her beyond the persistent rumors of her rudeness and what history has shown us of her in photographs.

Like many people, I've grown more and more attached to her history in recent years due to the fresh portrayal of her on Netflix's The Crown. At first, I assumed that this book was setting out to be an uniquely formatted biography. Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret was not at all what I expected it to be and I am on the fence about it. The only things I am certain of are these: (1) I still am intrigued by Princess Margaret and (2) Craig Brown's prose is fantastic.

Princess Margaret was truly an enigma. Almost everyone in the world has, or had, an opinion on her. I longed to have a better understanding of who she was as a person; the good and the bad up until her death in 2002. I think to a degree I did learn quite a lot about her throughout the course of Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret, but there were a lot of moments that felt either repetitive or annoying due to their fictional nature.

Between every truth, every realistic glimpse of her life, and the gossip surrounding her, there was a hefty dash of fiction. I wasn't sure that I saw a point in including these within the book. They felt out of place, mismatched and utterly silly. Why write a non-fiction book only to sprinkle some, frankly, fanfiction in between?

(We're talking about this fantastical imagery of her and Picasso being married. Which, obviously, we all know never happened.)

Craig Brown still writes beautifully and I am appreciative over the way he tells us of Princess Margaret. I've never read a biography that was like this one and, while there were many things I wasn't keen on in it, it still felt magical in many ways. It's fascinating and shows us many traits Margaret possessed, including good and bad traits.

At the end of the day, I did enjoy it--in a different way than I expected. This was a fun, end of summer read!

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