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Tina Brown: "Blondes Are More Interesting, It Seems"

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They sure are when they come in the form of such accomplished women as Lesley Stahl and Tina Brown. Last night I ventured to the Union Square B&N to witness a “chat” between Stahl and the former New Yorker editor; the latter is, of course, promoting her incipient blockbuster, The Diana Chronicles (currently #7 on Amazon). This being Brown’s first book ever, not to mention her first book signing ever, it made for quite a heady event.

As the rain came down, in between wincing at the overamplified Pat Metheny music and pouncing on a slew of 48-cent Penguins at the Strand stall (I collect them), I had the good fortune to enjoy a solid hour of intelligent, delicious repartee about, like it or not, like her or not, one of the most fascinating figures of our time: Princess Diana.

I would not have been quick to grant Diana such a grand appellation, but Brown quite simply won me over. For her part, Stahl had clearly done her homework, found the subject matter riveting, and betrayed every sign of wanting to have a ball. “Should I keep dishing?” she kept asking the audience. “I should?” Normally I disavow the dishy, but her enthusiasm was infectious—dish on!



Stahl called Brown’s book “an autopsy of the monarchy under Queen Elizabeth,” and it’s easy to see why. Having worked at the Tatler during Diana’s formative first years as Princess, and having written one of the most important pieces of the Diana canon, “The Mouse That Roared,” for Vanity Fair in 1985, shortly after taking over the editorship there, Tina might well be the most qualified person in the world to discourse on the subject. If the book is half as engaging as last night’s chat, it’s going to be the best beach book in years.

During the Q. & A., someone asked Brown to draw out the parallels between Diana and Hillary Clinton. To her credit, Brown demurred—while acknowledging that both women contain compelling contradictions (“You know, blondes are more interesting, it seems,” she hazarded impishly), the chasm between the senator with the voracious intellect and the scarcely lettered socialite remains too gaping to ignore.

When Brown signed my copy of the book (see above), I told her what an effective advocate for the book she is. Apparently, she took my words to heart: When I got home and switched on the TV, what’s the first thing I see? Brown entertainingly explaining Diana to Anderson Cooper. [And last night, she was on Charlie Rose. —Ed.] You’re welcome!

—Martin Schneider


Cherie Emily,

Your review is enthusiastic and contagious but might we agree to disagree, if only for a moment?

Might not Mme. Brown’s book be more memoir than dish about Di?

Like I suggested in my most recent post, as many English reviewers have noted, Tina Brown appears to have an uncommon obsession with Diana, and this chronicle could reflect her own ambitions/aspirations/ego, more than the late Princess….luv her or loathe her…either one….


Your Europhile post is very witty! I’m sure you have a point—do you think the book is an exercise in self-justification even more than a memoir? Tina’s fortunes do seem intertwined with those of Diana to a considerable extent.

Neither Emily nor I have read the book yet—still, the event was fun and (to my ears) substantive. We may not be as inundated with Diana books as our continental friends. Actually, we probably are, I just don’t know it!

Personally, I like obsession in a biographer. Frequent New Yorker contributor Robert Caro is Exhibit A here.

Obsession! Oui! Wonderful!

Not only lends itself to keen and fun focus but give license to insightful understanding of subject. D’accord. C’est Vrai….
Only there’s a wee problem with Tina’s white hot heat on Di, for soon after the latter’s death, the former was the first to cast a cruel word. Ouch. Many. But she quite likes the living, like Charles and Camilla, well, so did my Muv and many others and friends at the country pile.
Tina’s response to critics is that these two have little in common but a blonde bob. Imagine….
Well, everyone has their own perception, there’s no such thing as truth, Flaubert suggests, but I do find it illuminating that there’s little discussion regarding newfound material but rather the white hot heat is on…drumroll….TINA!
Well, good for her, she’s ambitious, talented and quite the media maven…I can only applaud such industrious effort…

Hee hee. Alors! If the project is to differentiate this Diana book from all others, a focus on Tina might be defensible, n’est-ce pas? Diana is not available for chat shows, after all … plus maintenant!

Lanchester in this week’s New Yorker makes the point that the essential Diana narrative hasn’t budged since about 1995. Is there new material?

I’m sure there’s a point for writing or reading such a book, one that provides neither new material nor erudition, but hey, perceptions aside, might we agree to disagree that unkind remarks so soon after such a death are not only unnecessarily cruel at worst but bad karma at best.

It’s great to see that people are lining up to hear her speak about this book for they definately didn’t want to hear her talk over her guests on her chat show.

And yes, Diana’s dead, very dead, so she can’t defend herself, c’est vrai.

I’m a huge fan of The New Yorker and can’t say i’m ecstatic that now, thanks to Tina, we read about supermodels and such, but well, maybe she was just canny and modern.

Change is imminent so they say, now 9 quid for a copy of the great mag on this side of the pond. I pay it every now and then or wait patiently for Muv to send me her copy….

Nine euros! That’s crazy! How much are other weekly magazines?

In Rome and Paris most of the English glossies are really expensive.

NY’er was 10 euro for a while, Harpers can hit 12 euro, and Vanity Fair is usually about 6 or 7.

Awful, isn’t it, but it’s worth the price of living in Paris ; )

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