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Diana in Search of Herself: Portrait of a Troubled Princess

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  336 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Exploring the events and relationships that shaped Diana, the flashpoints that sent her careening through life, her deep feelings of unworthiness, her view of men, and her perpetual journey toward a better sense of self, this book allows readers to see Diana as she really was. of photos.
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published August 25th 1999 by Crown
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This book provides a perceptive, no-flinching look at a young woman who apparently had little purpose in life except to project an image and be a celebrity. The highly detailed and well documented chronological survey reveals all of her psychological weaknesses that were hidden or glossed over by the British newspapers. Smith pours forth the evidence that Diana Spencer had a borderline psychotic personality, perhaps permanently damaged when her own mother deserted the family when Diana was 6. Sm ...more
Ann Clay
Very biased in favor of Charles. Makes Diana look like she was so mentally ill she was completely mad. Too extreme, in my view. Totally absent is what kind of a husband Charles was, how he was incapable of having a modern marriage. Clearly Diana had her problems, but I doubt anyone save Camilla could stand being married to the PoW.
Oct 24, 2011 Taylor rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
Largely focused on proving a theory of Borderline Personality Disorder (and very in-depth and well-researched on that angle), to the almost complete exclusion of other aspects of Diana's life. Her relationship with her children is rarely discussed, and it felt incomplete in parts. But overall, a disturbing, fascinating read.
This is the most comprehensive look at Diana, Princess of Wales, that I have read yet. It gives a more complete picture of her early life and what happened to her when she married into the royal family. It is obvious Diana had a lot of issues going on in her mental/emotional life. One gets the sense of a little girl abandoned early on by everyone in her immediate family. I don't think she got over this fact, she was too vulnerable and sensitive as a result. I think the author's perception of her ...more
Reading this book made me realize that, as much as I admired and adored Princess Diana, how little I knew about the real Princess of Wales.

No matter all the press I read about Diana during her lifetime, this book --- which is replete with quotes and attributions from many of Diana's friends, detractors, and associates whom the author interviewed --- has brought home to me how deeply troubled and conflicted Diana was about herself and her relationship to the world around her. Yet, in spite of al
With 100 pages of notes, bibliography, and index at the end, the book was obviously well researched. Although the author was not without her own opinions, I thought she presented Diana and the various people in her life fairly evenhandedly, with equal praise for their virtues and criticism for their flaws.

The author's suggestion that Diana suffered from borderline personality disorder seems plausible. After reading this account, I have no doubt that the princess was extremely difficult to deal w
Mary Ann
I have this waiting to be read. I wasn't too keen on another tired encomium to Diana, but after reading Bedell Smith's books on Queen Elizabeth II, the Clintons, and the Kennedys, I'll give it a go. 10/14/2012 I was never a "Diana-watcher" and read most about her after she died. Much of what I read either praised her as an almost-saint or decried her as a traitor to the royal family and/or an unstable homewrecker. This bio is objective and thoughtful and gives the reader some insight into the ma ...more
Michelle Bouchor
This is probably my favorite book about Princess Diana. (And I think I've read almost all of them.) Most of the books are pretty one sided or acts as if Princess Diana was a saint. This was much more objective and shows the reader that even though she was a beautiful, caring person, she also had a lot of emotional problems. Some of them were probably due to her parents' divorce and others were from her husband and the royal family. At any rate, it was good to see that while she wasn't perfect in ...more
Dale Stonehouse
This was a tough one to get through, perhaps because of the difficulty with which the princess approached life and her world. The premise that Diana suffered from borderline personality disorder is probably accurate; it would have been nice to read a bit more about the positive side of that affliction. The book did give a clear picture of how she dealt (poorly) with her fear of abandonment, which is really the only causal factor in BPD; everything else stems from it. It also demonstrated the deg ...more
A boring book about Princess Diana! Thick with quotes that skew the narrative, disorganized, wordy, self-importance oozing from the author... I really hated it. Borderline personalities are interesting, aren't they? (Until the thrill is gone) But Sally Bedell Smith is such a serious journalist that all drama, all interest is beaten to a pulp. I'd rather watch a video loop of a woman in cowboy boots jumping on broken glass for an hour than try to read this book straight through to the end. This b ...more
I've read several books about Diana as they came out over the years, and this one breaks the mould because it captures her severely compromised mental and emotional state as a human being while simultaneously acknowledging the good she was able to accomplish as Princess of Wales. A serious read for anyone concerned about the implications of our collective societal obsession with fame, celebrity, and the part we all play in abetting our media. No one is demonized in this portrayal, and the princi ...more
Apr 30, 2008 Sandra rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sandra by: myself
In some point, Diana's life wasn't easy. She had a lot of stress, with photographers all around her, being a queen, not being beloved for her husband, wanting other man, caring for people. Living in sadness because she wasn't close to the one that she really loved. Crying because she not always had the "normal life" that she wanted, dreamed about.
Having no good life at all, this did not prevent her to love her children. William and Harry were her best treasure life could give her. She tried to b
Jan 03, 2008 Melissa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who likes to read about the royals
This book allows us an inside look at Diana, Princess of Wales, her childhood, how she met and was courted by Prince Charles, her relationships with her sons, relationships after Charles. A wonderful look at a princess who was all too real and taken us from us much too soon.
Seems to be a pretty fair analysis & extensive research on the part of the author. Brings much understanding of the interpersonal and intrapersonal dynamics of the individuals involved in her life. Enjoying the read!
Wow. What an actress Diana was.

An insightful look at the possible psychological undercurrents of the personality of the Princess of Wales.

I have changed my mind about her -- again.
I read this not because of a vested interest in Princess Diana, but to learn more about borderline personality disorder. This made for a more compelling read than I'd anticipated.
3.5 stars. I never knew she had so much going on emotionally. This was a really in depth look into Princess Di's life. Very interesting.
Elizabeth Boyde
4.5 stars

I found the book so insightful. It really showed Diana Frances (Spencer) Windsor in a completely new light.
Chrisi McGlone
I would not read this book unless you are very emotionally strong, very depressing.
Became repetitive in thought. Definitely a different take on the Diana situation.
I have no excuse. I read it, nothing new.
Enjoyed the book.
It was okay...
Jul 29, 2011 Emily marked it as to-read
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Ann E. Izzo marked it as to-read
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Author of six biographies: Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch (Random House 2102); For Love of Politics: Bill and Hillary Clinton: The White House Years (Random House 2007); Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House (Random House 2004); Diana In Search of Herself: Portrait of a Troubled Princess (Random House 2004); Reflected Glory: The Life of Pamela Churchill H ...more
More about Sally Bedell Smith...
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House For Love of Politics: Bill and Hillary Clinton: The White House Years Reflected Glory: The Life of Pamela Churchill Harriman In All His Glory: The Life and Times of William S. Paley and the Birth of Modern Broadcasting

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