99. The Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot

A normal 14 year old discovers she is heir to the throne of a small European country.

This is the premise of The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot which is one of the few children’s books on The List which I had not previously read. Chiefly because I was never one for the girly kind of book that comes with a bright pink cover and a girl in high heels and a short dress that this turned out to be.

Nevertheless I have spent a reasonably entertaining afternoon watching the film so I was happy enough to give the book a go.

The book is written as the diary of Amelia “Mia” Thermopolis or to give her her full title: Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo. Mia is horrified to find out that on top of the normal problems of being an unpopular, geeky teenager in an American high school (which seems much more difficult  than British high schools) she must now take “Princess lessons” from her grandmother and attempt to keep her new status hidden from the rest of New York.

The main problem I had with this book is that I just didn’t buy Mia. She doesn’t gel with my own memories of being 14; the way she talks, the things she worries about and the way she acts all seem too immature for 14 albeit an american 14 which as my Mum pointed out may be different to a british 14. But I can say for certain that no one I was at school with when I was 14 would have been caught dead reading this book.

The story itself is quite well thought out if entirely predictable (no points for guessing who turns out to be the beau in Mia’s life). I may have spent most of my time restraining an urge to slap Mia but I did like her grandmother and the country of Genovia was well created.

The Principality of Genovia is apparently located on the Côte d’Azur

All in all it’s probably a great book for pre-teens. I looked online for who the story is aimed at and there seems to be some debate: some parents say it’s unsuitable for young girls because there is some mention of virginity and breasts but these seem pretty minor to me. I can’t imagine ever having wanted to read this book myself but girlier girls would probably enjoy it.

There are nine more books in the series which I may or may not bother reading, only time will tell.


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