Thursday, June 5, 2014

Harry: A Biography by Marcia Moody

Memo to Michael O'Mara Books:  please hire good editors and fact checkers.  Heck, I offer my expertise (and you can afford my hourly rate.)

After reading Marcia Moody's Kate: A Biography, which I enjoyed, I picked up Moody's next book, Harry: A Biography (Michael O'Mara), expecting another success.

This book is an utter disappointment.  I knew I was not on surer ground when on page 24, Moody writes: "Diana discovered she was pregnant again in January 1984, when William was seven months old."

Whaaaat?    I am not good in math, but William was not seven months old when Diana became pregnant in January 1984.   Prince William was born in June 1982.  Harry was born in September 1984, which makes William two years older than his brother.

So, where was the editor and the red pencil?    Harry was not christened at Windsor Castle (page 28).  The ceremony took place at St. George's Chapel, but not Windsor Castle.  Some may call this semantics, but  I say: get the facts right.  Would Moody have said the Earl and Countess of Wessex were married at Windsor Castle?  I hope not.

Lord Mountbatten was not Charles' "beloved uncle," but his great uncle.  Lord Mountbatten's older sister, Alice, was the mother of Prince Philip, Charles' father, which means Lord Mountbatten was Philip's uncle.  

If Charles and Diana's separation was announced in December 1992, it would have been impossible to divvy up possessions in the winter of 1992.  Winter of 1993, yes, not 1992.

When Moody writes about the Queen taking the princes to Sunday service, she falls into the same trap as other writers by mentioning that Diana's name was not mentioned during the service..  This is true, but most writers ignore the fact that the Church of Scotland does not offer prayers for the deceased.  The prayers were for the survivors, the living.

I felt I was reading daily news clips from tabloid newspapers, rather than a competent biography of the Prince of Wales' younger son.  However, it must be said that Prince Harry, who will celebrate his 30th birthday, has not accomplished enough in life to warrant a good, serious biography, replete with footnotes and citations.

A good editor could have massaged this book into a readable account  of Harry's life so far.  Instead, we are treated to a truly disappointing rehashing, largely based on news clips, and little else.

In time, someone will write a competent biography.  Give this one a miss -- you won't learn anything knew -- and wait for someone to take the time to write a decent account of Prince Harry's life.

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