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Summary

From our funniest writer, a portrait of our most talked-about royal.

She made John Lennon blush and Marlon Brando clam up. She cold-shouldered Princess Diana and humiliated Elizabeth Taylor.

Andy Warhol photographed her. Jack Nicholson offered her cocaine. Gore Vidal revered her. John Fowles hoped to keep her as his sex slave. Dudley Moore propositioned her. Francis Bacon heckled her. Peter Sellers was in love with her.

For Pablo Picasso, she was the object of sexual fantasy. 'If they knew what I had done in my dreams with your royal ladies,' he confided to a friend, 'they would take me to the Tower of London and chop off my head!'

Princess Margaret aroused passion and indignation in equal measures. To her friends she was witty and regal. To her enemies she was rude and demanding.

In her 1950s heyday, she was seen as one of the most glamorous and desirable women in the world. By the time of her death, she had come to personify disappointment. One friend said he had never known an unhappier woman.

The tale of Princess Margaret is pantomime as tragedy and tragedy as pantomime. It is Cinderella in reverse: hope dashed, happiness mislaid, life mishandled.

Combining interviews, parodies, dreams, parallel lives, diaries, announcements, lists, catalogues and essays, Ma'am Darling is a kaleidoscopic experiment in biography and a witty meditation on fame and art, snobbery and deference, bohemia and high society.

©2017 Craig Brown (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

Praise for Craig Brown: "The amazing Craig Brown - the greatest satirist since Max Beerbohm." (Elaine Showalter)
"The wittiest writer in Britain today." (Stephen Fry)
"Every page is gold...genius." (Boris Johnson)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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La-di-da

Princess Margaret was a renowned beauty in her day, glamorous girl-about-town as a young woman and member of a raffish, pleasure-bent jet-set. As a royal, she took things to the edge and came to be the despair of the more traditional members of the royal family. Poorly educated and extremely spoiled by her indulgent father, perhaps because of his own miserable childhood, she became both difficult and demanding; her friends were expected to accept her arrogant and often selfish behaviour, which included cutting public put-downs. Acutely aware of being ‘second best’, always in the shadow of her sister, Queen Elizabeth, she made sure she too was treated as a queen everywhere she went and woe betide those who failed in this respect.

I found this book hugely entertaining, my one criticism being that the several ‘what if’
scenarios were an unnecessary distraction from this riveting story.

I think this book would appeal to women, mainly, and especially to those who remember the press furor over her broken engagement and subsequent, fateful marriage.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Repugnant royal

This is fabulous! Read wonderfully by Eleanor Bron. I can't recommend this highly enough.
i will never look at those rubber sealed jars in the same way again.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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A life unfulfilled

Born into immense wealth and privilege with apparently no real purpose. Princess Margaret is portrayed as a demanding, spoilt, arrogant, selfish woman, with no thought for anyone but herself. However, the other side of the coin is a lonely, depressed and sad woman. such a shame and such a waste of a life. A true product of her environment.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Over too quickly

Suffice to say - an excellent listen, ably assisted by Eleanor Bron. Her narration is, without question, the best i've ever heard on an audiobook.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Ann D
  • Newcastle, England
  • 22-01-18

Interesting and excellent narration!

This is an interesting account and seemed very balanced. The narration is excellent, perfect for this particular book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A sideways view of Royalty, filled with gossip

This was an impulse buy but I was hooked. As somebody who is generally pro-Monarchy, 99 glimpses made me reconsider that view. There are tumbril moments a plenty.

Eleanor Bron’s reading was superb too, and enhanced the myriad sources Craig Brown has drawn upon. The overall tone was wonderfully subversive.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

What a monster.

Fascinating look at Margaret R o se. What a monster she was but how ill served by her family and so called friends. Could have done without the whimsy marriage to Picasso, friendship with the Duke and Duchess of Wi indsor and what monsters they were too ,. The helicopter ride over Coleridge's House was irritating and unnecessary. Lots of faults but so different from the usual sycophantic royal biography. Why on earth the family were so horrified by Diana after years of this is a,mystery - but royal blood I suppose.



5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Simply superb; scurrilous and so different

I'm not a Royalist and although I occasionally dip into 'Royal' books or biographies, I dislike anything that smacks of having the seal of approval from the subject. I was astonished to note that Craig Brown is the author; he's an entertaining columnist, but I wouldn't have expected him to write a Royal bio. Eleanor Bron's delivery is outstanding. She catches the tone exactly right with every voice. What a woman!

As for the glimpses; I've never read a bio quite like this. Although largely linear, following HRH's life from start to finish, it flits back and forth over the years as incidents make a particular point. The source material is often from contemporaneous diary notes made made other notables. Roy Strong, Evelyn Waugh, Noel Coward. Their insight into events and remarks is astonishing.

I'm left not knowing quite what to make of this somewhat enigmatic lady. There are a few redeeming features, revealed towards the end of the book and her final years I wouldn't wish on anyone. I had no idea that Armstrong Jones was so despicable. The world seemed to adore him in the 60s and 70s but his cruelty and waspishness was appalling.

99 chapters, some long, some short, some what if and overall a remarkable and memorable listen. I really enjoyed this one, far more than I thought I might.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Why the fiction ?

This had the potential to be a very interesting book. However, it was spoilt by ludicrous speculation with fictional outcomes. It has the Princess married to Jeremy Thorpe at one point! I gave up!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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99 gold stars!

A well written, insightful & most enjoyable book, I loved it. Exquisitely narrated, Eleanor Bron engages and entertains us throughout, bringing to life (with her beautifully observed characterisations), stories, anecdotes and reminiscences from the unique life of Princess Margaret and the many colourful people who featured in it. Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful