The queen of biography (Streisand, 1996, etc.) outflashes the paparazzi in this life of the late Princess of Wales.
Edwards has made her mark with 14 previous biographies, including several monarchs from Britain and American royals like Hepburn and the aforementioned Streisand. The author lived in England for decades and worked up Buckingham Palace contacts, archives, and historical background. An instabook would begin with the Ritz, Dodi, the Mercedes, and the 13th pillar of the Alma tunnel, but Edwards takes us back to Diana's ancestors to feel the weight of being a Spencer. When Diana is just a lass, before uncontrollable bouts of bulimia and love, she has `eating binges [because] she was starved of affection.` Edwards additionally lets us meet young Charles, taken with the Australian Kanga[JU: WHAT IS THIS?]prior to his lifelong obsession for making love and hunting with the older Camilla, married with children. Preceding Charles's marriage of convenience, Diana loses weight from anxiety. Edwards defends Diana's decision to marry as romantic optimism, though Charlie was missing the first morning after. `Charles thought he had married a demure deb, but Diana harbored a cache of emotions straight out of Emily Brontë.` Di was justifiably vengeful of the frigid royals, believes Edwards, who contends her subject truly became a princess once she left the palace. Her many hospital visits to land-mine or AIDS patients were, admits Edwards, part photo op yet part sincere. Ironically, Diana coveted the media savvy of John F. Kennedy Jr. (Edwards reveals how cannily Diana used her unauthorized biography); she also met Mother Teresa (whose funeral she upstaged with her own).
Although in the end there were aggressive paparazzi-buzzards on motorcycles (one named Rat), Diana's `welding of fairytale and soap opera` was an amazingly human story and provides a most nontabloid biography. (16-page b&w photo insert)