Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret (Brown) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Brown ignores all the starchy obligations of biography and adopts a form of his own to trap the past and ensnare the reader—even this reader, so determinedly indifferent to the royals. I ripped through the book with the avidity of Margaret attacking her morning vodka and orange juice…[Brown] swoops at his subject from unexpected angles—it's a Cubist portrait of the lady…As a subject, the princess proves to be something she never was in life: obliging. Beautiful, bad-tempered, scandal-prone, she makes for unfailingly good copy, and heaps of it.…The wisdom of the book, and the artistry, is in how Brown subtly expands his lens from Margaret's misbehavior…to those who gawked at her, who huddled around her, pens poised over their diaries, hoping for the show she never denied them. History isn't written by the victors, he reminds us, it's written by the writers, and this study becomes a scathing group portrait of a generation of carnivorous royal watchers…Without ever explicitly positioning Margaret for our pity, Brown reveals how we elevate in order to destroy. Who or what, in the final reckoning, is the true grotesque—the absurd, unhappy princess, those desperate to get close to her, or the system propping them all up?
Parul Sehgal - New York Times


Brown, a longtime contributor to Private Eye magazine, is capable of witty concision.… His “Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret,” …are mostly fast and entertaining. But more than a few could have been a single sentence, and a handful of counterfactual fantasies …never gain altitude. Too much of the book, like so much of its subject’s life, is extraneous … [and here and there a reader may wish the author had given Margaret a smidgen more credit.
Thomas Mallon - New York Times Book Review


Craig Brown’s delectable Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret is not a novel, though its subject seems like a sublime work of fiction, too imperious to be true.… Brown has done something astonishing: He makes the reader care, even sympathize, with perhaps the last subject worthy of such affection.… His book is big fun, equal measures insightful and hysterical.
Karen Heller - Washington Post


An original, memorable and substantial achievement.
Times Literary Supplement


A biography teeming with the joyous, the ghastly and clinically fascinating.
Times (UK)


Chatty, catty, and intelligent… Brown’s entertaining vignettes form a collage portrait of a rebellious anti-Cinderella.
Publishers Weekly


In this biography from noted satirist Brown, one expects and gets an effective skewering of both its subject …and the entire royal industry and its hangers-on, yet a small balm of sympathy for Margaret is added to the mix. —Kathleen McCallister, Tulane Univ., New Orleans
Library Journal


[A]n an acerbic biography of the star-crossed princess, one that is hilarious and bittersweet in turns.… Brown’s book is highly recommended for all American royal-watchers.
Booklist


Sensationalistic snippets from the life of a royal princess.… While savory overall, the onslaught of dishy details bends beneath its own weight in the book's final third.… [Still, an] endlessly provocative and deliciously scandalous book for royal watchers.
Kirkus Reviews

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