Monday, January 7, 2019

Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret

Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret / Craig Brown, 423 p.

I am not a great reader of biography/memoir, but this was well-reviewed enough that I was intrigued.  Margaret was (Queen) Elizabeth's younger sister.  At her birth she was high in the line of succession to the throne.  But when Elizabeth ascended and proceeded to have children and grandchildren of her own, Margaret's position continued to drop, leaving Margaret to feel (presumably)increasingly irrelevant.  As a minor royal, she was left to preside over the dedications of schools, nursing homes, and traffic circles, and to find meaning in whiskey, cigarettes, men, and, above all, insisting on the privileges of rank.

On the whole, then, I found the subject odious but the writing superb.  Ninety-nine brief chapters, most of them anecdotes told by the many people great and small whose paths crossed Margaret's, and only roughly in chronological order, build a kaleidoscopic picture of both a woman and an era of British history.  As a non-tabloid reading American, there were cultural references I missed - Margaret's great love, Group Captain Peter Townsend, is definitely not associated with The Who, for example.  Good fun and fast.

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