I had never, before this week, regretted the fact that I was too young to really follow Princess Diana’s story; she died when I was eleven and my awareness of her life’s work was vague and mushy at best. Blonde lady, lived in England, real sad, land mines. Frankly, I was more interested in checking to see whether my favorite PG-rated multi-part fan fiction about Hanson had been updated (if memory serves, the author trailed off somewhere around chapter 13, and I have always regretted it.) And then Nicole sent me a copy of Tina Brown’s The Diana Chronicles. (Yes, the bestseller that came out eight years ago. I’m behind. No, I didn’t see the movie.)
The Diana Chronicles had the effect of making me moderately interested in Princess Diana and completely obsessed with Tina Brown. How did I miss out on Tina Brown? All I knew was that she sort-of ran Newsweek for a while and everyone made jokes about her that went over my head on Twitter.
NO MORE. Tina Brown is the only thing I care about in the world now. I have never read a book so weirdly detailed, so incredibly dishy, so precious and vicious at the same time, with every sentence shot through with the most disingenuous “Who, me?” attitude. On more than one occasion I had to set the book down in order to absorb the cosmic energy of Tina Brown.
Here are but a few highlights:
“For women over thirty-five, glamour has three Stations of the Cross: denial, disguise, and compromise.”
I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS SENTIMENT BUT CHIEF AMONG THEM IS THIS: THERE ARE FOURTEEN STAGES OF THE CROSS, WHAT ARE THE OTHER ELEVEN, TINA??
“Women who love horses usually love sex. It is no accident that for girls, the onset of puberty is often marked by an obsession with horseflesh.”
She says this with such absolute assuredness that it took me a minute to realize what she was actually saying? And I was like, oh, well, maybe Tina Brown just gets something about female sexuality that I totally missed, because she sounds really confident??
“The adrenaline, the fresh air, and the tally-ho exhilaration are all big libido boosters, to say nothing of all that throbbing, galloping animal vitality between one’s thighs. Women who hunt love risk as much as men do.”
I JUST WANT TO GIVE UP AND SUBSUME MY WILL AND MY MIND TO TINA BROWN, TELL ME WHAT TO THINK ABOUT EVERYTHING, TINA
“Washington was and is a dowdy town, a center of power but not of fashion. The wives of heads of state trundle squatly through in their lurex Escada knits. Among the “cave dwellers” of Georgetown, the reigning bottle blondes from the network news bureaus are what pass for heat. The imported A-listers, B-listers, and Hollywood Squares C-listers from the Reagans’ Bel Air and Park Avenue circles added glitz but not tone.”
I don’t even understand half the words in this paragraph but the burn has been effectively communicated nonetheless. “Squat” is Tina Brown’s absolute favorite pejorative for women she thinks little of. Camilla is “squat.” The Queen is “squat.” I am squat, probably. The best thing a woman can be, in Tina Brown’s parlance, is “willowy,” or, failing that, “compelling.” A woman should be a tree carrying a briefcase.
“She knew “Girl Friday” to be Charles’ nickname for Camilla. (Because she did everything for him? Or because she only slept with him on weekends?)”
There is NOTHING that Tina Brown will not speculate about and it makes her perfect.
“I have come to think that being looked at obsessively by people you don’t know actually changes the way your face and body are assembled – not just in the obvious ways of enhanced fashion sense or tricks of charm and self-possession, but in the illusion of size. The heads of world-class celebrities literally seem to enlarge. Hillary Clinton’s, for instance, has grown enormously since she was the mere wife of the governor of Arkansas. It nods when she talks to you like a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The years of limelight so inflated the circumference of Jackie O’s cranium, it seemed her real face must be concealed by an oversized Halloween mask. If you looked into her eyes, you could see her in there somewhere, screaming.”
what ok goodnight
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.