Diana In Search of Herself

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Given the number of books written about Princess Diana, one might wonder whether anything remains to be said about the woman whose fairytale romance ended in divorce and whose short life ended tragically. Sally Bedell Smith has added significantly to knowledge about Diana, largely through her countless interviews with those who knew the Princess best and through examining meticulously most of what has been written about her.

Diana In Search of Herself: Portrait of a Troubled Princess analyzes the emotional status not only of Diana but also of Prince Charles. She concludes that both suffered from severe lack of self-esteem, probably stemming from their feeling unloved during childhood. Diana felt abandoned when her parents divorced. Charles was raised in a sterile emotional environment where little demonstrable love was shown.

Smith diagnoses Diana, probably quite accurately, as having a “borderline personality,” which accounted for the mood swings that left many close to her perplexed and that astounded a royal family in which emotion was expected always to be repressed. Diana, whose bulimia and suicide attempts became public knowledge, was, according to Smith, mentally ill during much of her marriage and afterwards.

Her depression and mood swings drove Charles back to Camilla Parker Bowles. Knowledge of her husband’s sexual involvement with this former lover destroyed the royal marriage and drove Diana to various retaliatory actions, including having affairs of her own.

This well-written biography provides eighty-six photographs that offer mute testimony to Diana’s suffering and compassion. Smith spins a fascinating and compelling tale.