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Diana: The People's Princess (Lives Cut…
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Diana: The People's Princess (Lives Cut Short)

by Lisa Owings

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"Diana" begins with a foreshadowing look into the future of Princess Diana's life. It gives the reader an idea that her life was not as perfect as it seemed. The book then goes back to her early life and explains her childhood. Then we see how Diana met Prince Charles. It was not love at first and took a few years before they eventually got together. Throughout Diana's life she was always working hard. She moved to London with a few friends and became a teacher. She loved helping others. When she began dating Prince Charles, she was photographed everywhere she went. This never stopped even after their divorce. It was also the cause of her death. She got into a car accident while her car was being chased by the paparazzi in Paris. When she married Prince Charles, she was never truly happy. She suffered from an eating disorder, anxiety, and overall unhappiness with her life and marriage. She didn't feel she truly fit into the royal family. However, once she became a mother, she dedicated her life to her two sons. She loved being a mother. During and after her marriage to Prince Charles she was involved in many charities and helped the children and the elderly. She wanted to make the world a better place. This book is great for students to get a more in depth look into Princess Diana's life. It tells her life story and is perfect to be read my students in middle school. It contains quotes, pictures, and facts about Diana's life. ( )
  mamontgomery | Jan 19, 2016 |
Nonfiction Midterm Book Review
EDLS 6710 – Dr. Pat Austin
By Cheryl D. Gross
March 18, 2013

The nonfiction book that I have chosen to review for my midterm exam is entitled Diana - The People’s Princess. This book may be categorized as a biography because the author Lisa Owings writes about the life of Diana Frances Spencer, detailing the events that have taken place from her birth in the English countryside to her unfortunate death in Paris while trying to escape the paparazzi. The biography begins, however, with Diana’s engagement to Prince Charles on February 24, 1981 and discusses some of the troubling events leading up to the day of the wedding on July 29, 1981. In chapter two the author then goes back in time to the date when Diana was born and explains the incidents in her young life, as well as her family and their social status within British society. The book is also part of a series of various biographies called Lives Cut Short which offers a holistic study of prominent people in pop culture who died unexpectedly in their prime of life and chronicles the highlights of their personal and professional experiences. Although the author does not specify her target audience, it is my opinion that this approximately 90 page book is geared toward readers between the ages of 10 and 15. As an adult, however, I enjoyed reading this book and learned quite a bit about this beautiful woman who the world adored.

In summary, the book begins with a quote by Diana Spencer that says, “I think the biggest disease this world suffers from…is the disease of people feeling unloved, and I know that I can give love.” By using this statement, the author gives the reader an idea of what was truly important to this woman, especially for those readers who are too young to know who the Princess of Wales was and what she did for humanity while she was alive. Nevertheless, the author opens the story with describing the young girl who was chosen by Prince Charles of England to be his wife. Chapter one highlights this pivotal time in Diana’s life because she is to become the future queen of England. Owings tells the reader that Diana was only 19 years old when she became engaged to Prince Charles who was 12 years her senior and that she was chosen because the prince needed to find a “proper wife” from a noble family. This scenario was no fairy tale, however, because Diana was too immature to handle royal life at such a young age and Charles did not give her the support she needed to be strong in her transformation from a regular citizen to royalty. There were also rumors that he was still in love with another woman from his past named Camilla Parker Bowles. When Diana discovered this possible romance, she expressed doubts to her family about Charles’s commitment to her, but her sisters told her that it was too late to back out of the wedding. With all of these pressures on her and a comment Charles had made about her being “chubby”, she began to suffer from an eating disorder called bulimia. Feeling obligated, however, to go through with this royal marriage, Diana busied herself with the wedding plans and even designed her own dress with the help of David and Elizabeth Emanuel. The wedding took place at Buckingham Palace on a beautiful summer day, but deep down inside Diana knew there were problems and that she would never be queen.

After this big event is introduced to the reader, the author then focused her attention on chronicling the princess’s life from beginning to end. She described that Diana was born on July 1, 1961 into a wealthy family. She was the daughter of Johnnie and Frances Spencer who held the titles of Lord and Lady. Diana grew up privileged and lived in Park House which was a mansion owned by Queen Elizabeth and was located in the English countryside. Diana had two older sisters and a younger brother and they were all raised by nannies and governesses because their parents traveled extensively. Diana also felt that she was a disappointment to her distant parents because they had hoped that she would have been born a boy. In her loneliness, she began to develop a nurturing nature toward the animals that lived on her parents’ estate. When Diana’s parents divorced in 1969, she and her siblings were sent to boarding schools. She was not an exceptional student, but did exhibit an extraordinary ability to sense the emotions and needs of other people. Her head mistress at Riddlesworth Hall awarded her the Legatt Cup for helpfulness and this token facilitated Diana in discovering who she really was as a person. When Diana moved on to West Heath boarding school she excelled in volunteerism within her community. She was also good with children and her interests became geared more toward people than her schoolwork. When Diana’s wealthy grandfather died, he left her father a huge estate and the title of 8th Earl of Spencer. She also inherited the title of Lady and soon she and her siblings were living at Althrop.

Diana soon met Prince Charles at Althrop when her older sister Sarah and he began dating, but she took little notice of him and actually found him to be depressing. During this visit, however, both got to know the other better and became fond of each other, but Diana was then sent to Switzerland to continue her education. She disliked the school, however, and returned home after only one semester and began looking for a job. By this time, her sister and Charles’s romance had fizzled and her father had just suffered from a stroke. To boost her spirits, she attended Charles’s 30th birthday party at Buckingham Palace and Charles took notice of her once again. Soon, Diana turned 18, lived in London, and was hired as a part-time kindergarten teacher, but she knew that she was destined for greatness. Diana and Charles saw each other on a few other occasions at the royal family’s home in Sandringham and at mutual friends’ social events. It was when Charles’s best friend died and Diana expressed comforting words to him that he became interested in her on a romantic level and she returned his affection. They started dating and their relationship became official when he asked her to go with him to the royal family’s castle at Balmoral in Scotland. The press got wind of this event and followed the couple to the castle, hoping to get photographs of Charles’s potential future bride. From that point on Diana would be the “media’s toy”.

Diana’s family, friends, and the world at large awaited the engagement of her and Charles. On February 6, 1981 at Winsor Castle he proposed, but wanted her to take three weeks to think it over because of the intense obligations involved with becoming a member of the royal family. Even though she had her reservations about becoming Princess of Wales, in terms of their age difference, Charles’s possible side romance with Camilla Parker Bowles, and the pressures of royal life, Diana thought that she could use her future status to help others. On February 24, 1981, they announced their engagement to the world in front of Buckingham Palace. Diana was now on her own to arrange the wedding and to adjust to living the royal life while Charles went on a business trip to Australia and New Zealand. Knowing that Diana was alone and vulnerable, Camilla Parker Bowles asked Diana to meet her for lunch in order to size up her competition. Unaware of this more experienced woman’s tactics at the time, Diana agreed.

To the world’s pleasure, the wedding took place and the couple were off on their honeymoon. Diana later expressed how stressful the entire ordeal was and that Charles even neglected her by reading books instead of spending time together on the royal yacht in the Mediterranean. Other documentation produced by Diana’s butler, however, stated a different story in which she expressed her marital bliss. With all of her new responsibilities that came with being a Royal Highness, Diana’s friends and family began distancing themselves from her. Feeling more along than ever, her bulimia, insecurity, and jealousy over Camilla started to wreak havoc on her health and the royal family did little to help her emotionally. Charles finally stepped in and got his wife professional help and it couldn’t have come at a better time because Diana was now pregnant with the couple’s first child.

Exhausted and nauseous, Diana was expected to go on tours and fulfill her princess obligations. She even had to give public speeches which terrified her, but she did it with grace and was well received by her people who loved her. Charles started to become a little jealous over the fact that people loved her more than him. Soon the couple were filled with joy when Prince William was born on Jun 21, 1982, but the happiness was short-lived as Diana suffered from postpartum depression, bulimia, had jealousy over Camilla, and was still adjusting to royal life. Even though her personal life was spiraling out of control, the British people loved her more and more and could relate to her because she often did not portray the traditional royal lifestyle. One particular instance was that she took William with her and Charles as they traveled; something that her own parents did not do. Before long, Prince Harry was born on September 15, 1984 and both Charles and Diana were devoted parents. The contentment that came with having their second child was also fleeting because after Charles’s obligations of producing “an heir and a spare” as coined by the press, Charles returned to his former lover Camilla Parker Bowles. Diana was broken-hearted, but busied herself by working with the charitable organizations that impassioned her. She worked with the elderly and sick and disabled children. The people’s love for her grew more and more as they witnessed her raise her boys in more of an informal way by placing them in schools with other children. Diana also started to steal the spotlight from Charles with her elegant fashion statements, charitable work, and beauty. Charles at first took this all in stride, but over time, he began to take the people’s preference for Diana over him in a more personal way because he felt underappreciated.

Charles and Diana’s marriage really started to show its deterioration when she gave a performance for him on his 37th birthday and he acted embarrassed and also thought that she was trying to upstage him on his special night. In private, the couple spent more and more time apart and to add insult to injury, Charles began comparing Diana to his brother’s wife Sarah Ferguson by saying she was sturdy and spunky and not frail and unhappy like Diana. In desperation for love and attention, Diana began an affair with Captain James Hewitt who was in charge of the horse stables at Buckingham Palace. She also got involved with AIDS charities, while Charles pursued his love of the arts, education, and the environment. It was a pivotal moment in history, however, when Diana shook the hand of an AIDS patient. She had gotten the world’s attention and helped to break people’s fears of associating with someone who had this disease. Diana became more to the world than a wife, mother, and fashion icon; she was a humanitarian who showed love for others – something she knew early on that she was destined to do. This brave move made Diana more confident and she received the help she needed to overcome bulimia. She also engrossed herself in her work and used her star status to get people interested in her charities.

As William and Harry grew up, Charles and Diana grew further apart. Captain Hewitt was out of the picture, but Camilla wasn’t, so Diana found comfort in the flirtatious conversations she had with an old friend from school named James Gilbey. Little did Diana know that their recorded phone conversation would one day go public and be one of her biggest embarrassments. The moment that truly made it clear to Diana that her marriage was over, however, was when Charles was injured in a polo event and as she came to his aid in a nurturing way, he rejected her for Camilla. Soon after this, Diana was approached by a journalist named Andrew Mortan in 1991 to write her biography. Wanting to tell her side of the story where her marriage, family, charitable work, and royal responsibilities were concerned, she agreed, but the two never met personally. All of the information revealed to Mortan was done via phone conversations and the book was soon published to the monarchy’s horror.

The book was not the only thing that damaged Charles’s image. When William received a head injury at school and needed surgery, Charles left on a business trip after the doctors said that his son would be OK and the press attacked him viciously. Needless to say, Diana spent her 30th birthday alone and also spent their 10th wedding anniversary apart from her husband. It was around this time that Diana’s father died while she was on a ski trip and she and Charles returned to London to attend the funeral together for public appearance sake. Charles wanted to give Diana a separation, but needed the queen’s approval. In an effort to save his reputation, Charles hired Jonathan Dimbleby to write his biography, so that he could tell his side of the story concerning his failing marriage, but when an intimate phone conversation between he and Camilla leaked to the public, everyone was sickened by it and Diana received the public’s support. Quickly Charles gave an interview with Dimbleby in an effort to again redeem himself. In retaliation, Diana also gave an interview with Martin Bashir of the BBC program Panorama. Diana was honest about everything and the people loved her more for it. This interview endeared her to her people and the rest of the world, but at the same time drew the wrath of Buckingham Palace. The queen granted Charles and Diana the ability to proceed with divorce negotiations. On August 28, 1996, Diana and Charles were officially divorced and her prediction that she would never be queen came to pass. She was now free to live her own life.

Over the course of the next year, Diana was active in her sons’ lives and focused the rest of her attention on the charities she supported that had to do with AIDS, cancer, leprosy, homeless youth, sick and disabled children, the ballet, and her work against land mines in Angola. She auctioned off many of the dresses she had worn to royal events and raised $3 million in one night for her AIDS and cancer charities. Camilla soon divorced her husband to be with Charles, so to ease her mind about the recent unpleasant events in her life, Diana visited with a Spencer family friend named Mohamed al-Fayed who invited her and her sons to spend a vacation with him and his family in Saint Tropez. Over that summer, Diana and Mohamed’s son Doti grew close, but Diana still kept busy by campaigning against land mines in Bosnia. She was now considered an international humanitarian.

She and Doti’s romance blossomed and they often visited Saint Tropez. At the end of the summer of 1997, they flew to Paris to have dinner at a nice restaurant before she was to return to London the next day to reunite with her sons. When the paparazzi got word of it, however, the couple decided to have dinner at the Ritz Carlton Hotel where they were staying. The paparazzi now surrounded the hotel and in an effort for privacy, Doti suggested that they try escape to his apartment. He had their usual driver leave the front of the hotel and he and Diana then left with another driver from the back entrance. The paparazzi caught on to their plot and some photographers chased them through the streets of Paris. As their Mercedes ran a red light and entered a tunnel, the driver, Henri Paul tried to get around a slower vehicle, lost control of the car, careened head-on into a concrete pillar, and everything went black. People who witnessed or heard the accident ran to help and discovered that the driver and Doti al-Fayed were dead, but the body guard Rees-Jones and Diana were still alive. As others attended to Rees-Jones, an off-duty doctor tried to help Diana, but little did he know that the collision had torn her heart out of place and had thrown it to the other side of her body. As soon as the ambulance arrived, Diana suffered from a heart attack and had severe internal injuries. With the pulmonary vein and sac around her heart torn and bleeding, she suffered a second heart attack at the hospital and doctors worked for two hours on her trying to revive her. She died at 4:00 AM on August 31, 1997.

The world was shocked and confused by what happened. The driver had drugs and alcohol in his system and was blamed for her death, but the people also blamed the paparazzi. People brought flowers, notes, mementos, and candles to the Kensington Palace gates where Diana lived to show respect and grief for their beloved princess. The royal family stayed at Balmoral and this angered the British people. The funeral was arranged and was a momentous world-wide event. William and Harry graciously accepted condolences from the public and the queen even lowered the Union and U.K. flags to half-mast at Buckingham Palace. Finally, the queen spoke to her people about the tragic loss of her former daughter-in-law Diana. The media showed the massive amount of people who lined the streets of London on September 6, 1997 to watch Diana’s funeral procession. Draped with white flowers, her coffin lay on a gun carriage pulled by horses on its way to Westminster Abbey. Guards then carried it into the church as Charles, William, and Harry followed behind. At the funeral, numerous speeches were said by family, friends, and heads of state and beautiful songs were played out of respect for this young woman who had given back so much to her fellow man. Diana’s coffin was then driven in a hearse to the gravesite and people applauded and cried as it passed.

Diana Frances Spencer, also known as the Princess of Wales broke with royal traditions, tore through prejudices where disease is concerned, made the world more aware about the horrors of war, and touched many people with love and compassion. She will be forever remembered as the queen of people’s hearts, but more importantly, she will go down in history as the people’s princess.

In terms of accuracy, the author Lisa Owings’s qualifications for writing this book include a degree in English and creative writing from the University of Minnesota, as well as her experience with writing and editing a wide variety of educational books for young people. Much of this book is based on factual information that has been derived from other secondary sources that are listed in the book’s bibliography. These sources are books that have been written by other authors and Owings used them as references to write Diana – The People’s Princess. Some of the information has the distinction of being somewhat opinionated, such as at the end of the book when the author states that the world will forever remember Diana for her love, compassion, and understanding. This is touching, but it is an opinion because the new generations being born into the world might not know who this princess was and will need to read a book such as this one in order to be informed. My children who are 15 and 13 were perfect examples of being unfamiliar with Princess Diana as they inquired of me who the woman was on the cover of the book that I was reading. The topic of Princess Diana was once surrounded by sensationalism during her life and shortly after her death, but today most of the media frenzy has since dissipated over time and the author of this book does not imply that she is caught up in any form of melodramatic dogma. Owings is simply stating facts and presenting episodes of Princess Diana’s life. Some may even say that any book about her stereotypes her as the young, beautiful victim and Charles as the husband with a heart of stone, and although this book is about Diana and seems to display some favoritism toward her, it does not present her as a perfect person. I believe that the author has tried to be as objective as possible in order to appropriately deliver the facts in this biography. The final aspect that adds to the accuracy of this book is the publication date which is in 2013. With this in mind, the author has had the opportunity to gather the most recent information about Diana concerning her life and death.

When considering content, the scope of this biography is rather wide because the author not only highlights the engagement and wedding of the princess, but she discusses Diana’s life in adequate detail from beginning to end. It’s impossible to cover every event in a person’s life, but I believe that Owings has done a good job at pinpointing many of the imperative moments in Diana’s story. The depth, therefore, is not as prominent as the scope because so much is discussed and the book would have to be significantly longer in order to go deeper with everything that is presented. The author’s focus is to reveal many details of Princess Diana’s life to anyone who is interested. For example, her family life, social status, education, interests, personal life, and contributions to humanity are all included in order to inform the reader about this woman who captivated the world at one time.

The style the author uses is one that is clear and to the point. The content and ideas appear to flow rather smoothly and are organized and in a logical order that the reader can easily follow and understand. The language is also accessible and comprehensible to the reader. The vocabulary is not too simplistic, yet is written in an intelligent manner that is sensible. Explanations to words that might be a little more complex, such as bulimia, paparazzi, and pulmonary vein are not available within the text, but a glossary is provided at the back of the book to define the meaning of these words. The language has a rhythmic prose that follows one pivotal event after another in Diana’s life, such as her engagement, marriage, birth, family life, education, meeting Prince Charles, fighting bulimia, unhappiness, motherhood, charitable work, marriage deteriorating, divorce, and death. Vivid language is also utilized in order to emphasize substantial events. For example, in the last chapter the author describes Diana’s funeral procession by saying, “Saturday, September 6, 1997, dawned on London with mourners already crowding the streets. They were reverently quiet as the funeral procession passed by on its way to Westminster Abbey. Diana’s coffin was mounted on a gun carriage pulled by horses and surrounded by guards. It was draped in the Royal Standard – the flag of the monarchy. On top of the flag lay bouquets of white lilies, tulips, and roses. Nestled in the rose bouquet was a sealed envelope that read “Mum”. It was a card from Prince Harry.” (Pages 93-94). This type of language is threaded throughout the book and is interesting and emotionally charged, but still seems to maintain objectivity. At times Owings poses a question in order to draw the reader to further investigate what is being discussed, such as when she described people’s shocked and confused reaction to Diana’s accident and death. She asks, “How could this have been allowed to happen? Some people blamed the Paparazzi or suspect an assassination plot.” (Page 91). Each chapter also transitions easily from one episode to the next as was mentioned with the rhythmic prose above. The chapter titles pique the reader’s interest, but also are self-explanatory as they prepare one for what is about to come next in the book. The author’s tone is conversational, as well because the reader gets the sensation that he or she is being told a story that is not only intriguing, but is also entertaining, and at times sprinkled with emotional language.

As far as the organization is concerned the overall structure is one that simulates a combination of topical, sequential, and chronological information. By topical, I mean that the author first begins the book with one of the most significant events in Diana’s life – her engagement and wedding. The author then travels back in time to discuss the princess’s birth, youth, and entry into womanhood when she meets Charles and discovers that she will become his wife and the intended future queen of England. The story proceeds to reveal her life as a mother, the troubles she faces, the charitable work she cares about, her divorce, and sudden death. This latter information is presented in more of a sequential or chronological manner as the author brings the reader from one occurrence to the next. Owings accomplishes this by using a story narrative type of disclosure in which she is telling Diana’s story to the reader. Also, as the account of Diana’s life unfolds, it seems to progress from a more simplistic time in her youth when she was away at school to much more complicated phases that reveal her struggles to be a happy person up until her divorce from Prince Charles. Some familiar situations in Diana’s life are also divulged, such as her love for animals and her nurturing nature, but then instances that are unfamiliar to many people are also unveiled, such as living the life of royalty and being constantly hounded by the paparazzi.

Lisa Owings provides her book with many reference aids that are useful to the reader in terms of guiding him or her through the material, offering further information to enlighten the reader, submitting source information, and clarifying any terms that might be unfamiliar to the reader. For example, the chapter titles help the reader know what to expect before being exposed to the information. They also are worded in a way that intrigues the reader to want to know more, such as The War of the Waleses and A candle in the Wind. Section heads are also available which help to divide the chapters into areas that are independent, but are still related to the rest of the information within each chapter. The Table of Contents provides the reader with the chapter titles, reference aids, and their page numbers, so that the reader may quickly find specific information he or she is interested in reading. There are only 9 chapters, but they help to organize Diana’s life from beginning to end, prompting the reader to start with chapter one or turn to a chapter of interest. Some chapter titles are named with a descriptive purpose, such as Queen of People’s Hearts in order to lure the reader to silently ask what this statement may mean. An Index is located at the back of the book that also helps the reader accomplish his or her search for particular material and is organized by topic. I felt as though this reference aid could have been a little broader, however, especially in terms of not listing Diana’s grandmother who apparently was the only one in her family who advised her not to marry Prince Charles because she didn’t think that the royal lifestyle would make her granddaughter happy. The index also only gives page numbers for text and not visual information. A Glossary is also located toward the back of the book and details terminology that might be unfamiliar to younger readers, such as bulimia and paparazzi. The definitions are clear with the key word being demonstrated in bold, so that it is obvious to the reader which I find to be a positive attribute. No pronunciation guide or expanding conceptual information exists beyond the simple definition, however.

Other appended matter that is found in the book is a Timeline that shows specific years in which noteworthy events took place in Diana’s life; a Quick Facts section that highlights a few key details about the princess, such as her birthday, the day she died, and her career endeavors; an Additional Resources section that comprises a Selected Bibliography, Further Readings, Web Links, and more information on properties and landmarks; and a Source Notes section that provides the reader with where the author got her information for each chapter.

The format that Lisa Owings employs is one that incorporates numerous photographs that benefits the reader by allowing him or her to see what Princess Diana looked like as a baby, young child, adolescent, young bride, and mature woman. These visual tools also helps the reader to better relate to the text, especially in terms of seeing Prince Charles and other royal family members, seeing Diana’s charitable work that impassioned her, and to also witness to some degree how her life ended.

The biography presents more access features that are also very effective in terms of inviting the reader into the information within its pages. For instance, the cover displays Princess Diana in a beautiful, blue, silk gown with an alluring smile on her face that summons the reader to perhaps want to know who this woman is if they don’t already. The title Diana – The People’s Princess and the fact that it is connected to a series called Lives Cut Short is another intriguing aspect that the cover imparts to the reader that also motivates him or her to want to know more. End pages exist at the beginning of the book and include a moving quote that Diana said, along with the same picture from the cover adding to the content and appeal of the book.

Another interesting and valuable feature that this biography provides to the reader is sidebars that offer added information that goes beyond what the biographical text reveals. For example, when Lisa Owings talks about Camilla Parker Bowles, a sidebar is printed in the left margin on page 38 that goes into more detail about who this woman was and what she apparently meant to Prince Charles. This added information does not disrupt the flow of the text, but may often assist the reader to better understand what the text is saying.

The Bibliography that was briefly mentioned earlier contains secondary sources of other books written by different authors about Princess Diana. Readers can easily find these books if they choose to further investigate Diana’s life from other writers’ points of view. These sources are clearly identifiable with a Further Readings section following the bibliographical section, along with Web Links and For More Information sections that were also mentioned earlier in this review.

Although an Author’s Note section does not exist, an About the Author section does and adds to the accuracy of the information included in the biography by allowing the reader to know a little insight into Lisa Owings qualifications and experience. She doesn’t reveal, however, why she wanted to write Princess Diana’s story.

The visual displays that this biography provides are in the form of photographs that are beneficial to the text by adding relevance and helping the reader better understand what is taking place within the story. By this, I mean that the photographs aid the reader in his or her connection with the verbal details being disclosed. These visual tools are not abstract, but instead are clear and to the point, so that younger readers will not be confused. The photographs support, add meaning, and impact to the text. They are quality, color photos that include captions to better explain what the visual image is about.

The only diagram that exists within the biography is a timeline that displays specific years, written descriptions of what took place within those years, and photographs to highlight key events that the author wants to emphasize. The timeline is divided sporadically in years. For example, the first year is 1961 when Diana was born, it then moves forward to 1969 when her parents divorced, followed by 1975 when Diana inherited the title of Lady. Therefore, the timeline is not divided by an equal amount of years; instead it is divided by significant occurrences in Diana’s life.

In relation to the Penny Coleman article involving a visual model for analyzing nonfiction texts, it is my opinion that the author Lisa Owings wrote Diana – The People’s Princess using very little, if any made up material. She provides a Source Notes section at the back of the biography which documents where she retrieved her information. Due to the fact that these sources are secondary, however, may pose a question about the reliance of the primary sources that these other various authors used. The reader would have to conduct further research by reading these other books in order to make that determination. A significant amount of information is also presented in Owings biography of Princess Diana, but not too much to where the book is overwhelming for the average reader. The biographical account has quality, but could have utilized primary sources, such as personal interviews with people who knew Diana well. This would have definitely added to the book’s authenticity. The book’s structure is fairly simplistic because it moves in a predominately chronological/episodic format from Diana’s birth to death, as was mentioned earlier in this review, but does start off with an important event that took place in her life when she was a young woman. Therefore, the book has somewhat of a complicated arrangement designed by the author. The biography is presented in a narrative voice in which the author is telling the reader about Princess Diana’s life, however, this conversational tone borders on one that is also expository, as events are explained to the reader. And although Owings’ writing is appealing and descriptive, she doesn’t use literary devices, such as metaphors or repetition to get her points across. Her voice is definitely present and is conversational, for the most part, as was mentioned above because the reader senses that she is standing at a distance, but not too far, in order to reveal Diana’s biographical information. Front and back matter is evident in the book with an end page, title page, and table of contents to start the book off and reference aids, such as a bibliography, index, and glossary at the end. As was mentioned earlier, visual material is presented in the form of quality, color photographs with descriptive captions that help the reader connect with the text, as well as a timeline that points out momentous occasions chronicling Diana’s life.

As a future middle school English teacher, I would definitely use this book in my class to introduce my students to this remarkable person. Princess Diana is a noteworthy individual who was an asset to society. The biography written by Lisa Owings is well done and uses language that seems to target young readers of middle school age. Although the book is not perfect and could use primary sources to make it a more valid biography, in my opinion, the facts still appear to align with what history has to say about Princess Diana’s life. Many English-based assignment opportunities could be created for students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of who this woman was and what she did to help humanity. For example, students could write a biographical sketch on Princess Diana, create a Power Point or Prezi presentation highlighting the most significant events in her life, design their version of a suitable timeline that concentrates on what they believe to be the most considerable moments of her life, or create a photographic essay that is biographical in nature, but reveals insightful visual images of the princess with captions to further explain what is happening in the pictures. Each of the above activities may also be coupled with a YouTube video documentary which would make any project more interesting and entertaining.

According to Destiny Quest which is a part of the UNO library collection search, only one book on a young adolescent level called Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World by Jane Breskin Zalben contains information about Princess Diana and is an assortment of 15 brief biographies of various other individuals who changed the world for the better. Princess Diana is among a list that includes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, and more. Although this book is described by others who have reviewed it as being beautifully created with quality text that appears in the form of single-paged vignettes allowing a small glimpse into each noted person’s life, it thereby motivates the reader to want to know more. In conjunction with the written material about each celebrated individual, the author has assimilated a collage-type illustration fabricated with cloth, etchings, watercolor, and objets d’art with notes explaining what the various symbols represent for each individual discussed. With this in mind, I would highly recommend Diana – The People’s Princess by Lisa Owings to be added to UNO’s collection because even though it is not a lengthy biography, it offers more information than the preceding book does about Princess Diana. It is, therefore, my opinion that the book would be an asset to anyone who would like to know more about this person, especially after reading Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World. If even further information is desired by the reader, Owings’ bibliography offers several other books that may be enlightening.

Upon investigating a professional review of Lisa Owings’ biography about Princess Diana, I realized that my review seems to be in line with the professional one in respect to the book being worth reading. After a thorough search I discovered a review by Susan Dove Lempke of Booklist, for example, who believes that Diana – The People’s Princess is well written for the young reader who wishes to explore the princess’s life in more detail other than knowing that she was simply Prince William’s mother. Lempke comments that the Lives Cut Short series is a dependable source for studying facts about celebrities or other famous people who achieved much in life, but died untimely deaths. She also admits that although the author is describing the events in Diana’s life, she reveals a slight sense of admiration for her accomplishments and honesty about her mistakes, but probably in an effort to not be sued for libel. She continues by stating that this author should perhaps consider writing a sequel to this biography in order to provide more in-depth information for the interested reader. By affirming this, I interpreted it to mean that Owings’ book was good, but adding a little more detail couldn’t hurt, and although I agree with Lempke, I still think that Owings’ biography about Princess Diana is a nice resource to add to UNO’s collection because it follows the guidelines for well written nonfiction. ( )
  cdaugher | Mar 15, 2013 |
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