1. What are you currently reading? This Christmas, by Jane Green/Jennifer Coburn/Liz Ireland. To get into the swing of the holidays, I picked up this trio of Christmas-y short stories. I'm in the middle of the first one ("Vacation") right now and it's moving along nicely. Sarah and Eddie used to be madly in love, but their lives have taken them down different paths and they seem to have lost one another. Nobody's at fault, or maybe they both are, and they agree to a trial separation. Will they reconcile at Christmas? I don't know, but really, yes I do. It's a chick-lit holiday romance!
I've read Jane Green before. According to my book lists, I've read Jemima J., Another Piece of My Heart and Bookends. My notes say I liked those three books, and yet right now, as I sit here, I remember little about them. I suspect this short story "Vacation" will be the same. I'm enjoying it right now but it's nothing memorable. And that's OK. I just want a holiday love story right now.
2. What did you recently finish reading? Ma'am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown. Be warned! This biography of Queen Elizabeth's rebellious younger sister is really not a biography at all. It's the retelling of anecdotes shared by people those who knew Princess Margaret at different points in her life.
It's a gossipy romp that portrays Margaret as the favorite of her father, The King. ("Elizabeth is my pride, but Margaret is my joy," he was fond of saying.) The prettier, more charming of the Windsor girls, she was destined to never be Queen. In fact, at the time of her death in 2002, she was 11th in succession, behind then 10-year-old Princess Eugenie, daughter of Andrew and Fergie. Apparently this left her haughty and bitter.
So did love. She was not allowed to marry Captain Peter Townsend because he was divorced (imagine how she felt about Charles and Camilla, a generation later!). Her glittering marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones disintegrated rather quickly. She had ill-fated affairs with unsuitable men.
Yet Picasso and Peter Sellers were madly in love with her. The British tabloids couldn't get enough of her, either. She was, at one time, considered one of the world's most glamorous women. And the bitchiest. She openly scorned our Queen Elizabeth (Taylor) in the press for her "vulgar" jewelry. When they met, and Liz was wearing her 33.9 k Krupp Diamond, she asked Princess Margaret if she'd like to try it on. Margaret slipped it on her finger. "Not so vulgar now, is it?" Elizabeth Taylor purred.
It's that kind of book. If you enjoy such stories, you'll enjoy this. I admit I did. But it also left me sad. I suppose it would be natural to draw a line between Margaret and Harry, the "spare" of his generation. But I couldn't help thinking of Diana. Margaret could have really done something with her life, used her popularity to advance good works. Instead she promoted "G&T" (gin and tonic), cigarette holders, bouffant hair and the Island of Mustique. It feels like she had a sad life of wasted opportunity.
3. What will you read next? I think I'll grab another Christmas fiction.