Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Princess Diaries, by Meg Cabot

I felt like such a 12 year old reading this, but it was definately fun- like a nice hot bath for the brain.  I can't remember reading many novels like this when I was younger.  Maybe there weren't any...maybe I just read Famous Five forever and then moved onto Harry Potter on a loop until the age of about 17.

Princess Diaries is your classic fish out of water story.  Mia Thermopolis, flat chested sophomore giantess, is just coming to terms with her bohemian artist mother dating her Maths teacher.  Out of all the millions of men in Manhatten, Mia's mother has decided to date the guy that's failing her in Algebra.  The narrator/diarist is a typically akward 16 year old, inexplicably unpopular and according to her daughter-of-two-psychoanalysts-best-friend, struggles to self actualise.  Mia's mum is convinced she bottles up her feelings, so has encouraged her to keep a diary to let it all out.  There are bigger problems in store for Mia than her Mother's love life, her algebra problems or the fact that eye candy extrordinnaire Josh Richter might or might not have accidentally said "hey" to her at the mall once...

I don't think it's a spoiler to reveal that Mia Thermopolis is revealed (by her enigmatic, based abroad father) to be Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermapolis Renaldi of Genovia- a small European tax-haven and home to about 1000 inhabitants.  It happens pretty early on, plus it says so in the blurb...The story follows Princess Amelia as she tries to keep her royal identity a secret from her classmates (especially the popular girls) whilst recieving intensive princess lessons from her hilariously severe Grandmere, Dowager Princess, etiquette expert and Sidecar enthusiast.

Mia has to lean what it takes to be a head of state, how to negotiate and compromise with her Grandmere and her Dad and how to socialise your bodyguard.  She learns new things about herself and comes to realise that she might not have always been as nice as she could have been to others in her school, as well as how to handle the World's press.

Loads of fun- a quick and easy read with some genuinely hilarious writing in places.  I really liked Mia and think that there's something in her that everybody can relate to- even if it's just being unassertive, falling out with your best friend or not being particularly happy with the way you look.  I know some readers might take the "but I hate girly things" attitude, which is understandable looking at the cover, but Mia herself is hardly traditional Princess material (she lives on takeaway Chinese and wears only Doc Martins), something that she points out to her Dad on an almost daily basis.  I can see why this has proven to be such a successful series.

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