Picks and Pans Review: H.r.h. the Princess Margaret: a Life Unfulfilled

updated 04/12/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/12/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Nigel Dempster

In an earlier century England's poets might have written an epic, or at least a sonnet, about Princess Margaret's ill-fated romances. It is a sign of our times, perhaps, that instead we have this biography by a newspaper gossip columnist that manages to be sleazy and fawning at the same time. The tiny, doll-like younger sister of the Queen was her father George VI's delight, a bright, musical mimic who was spoiled by family and public alike. She made the mistake while very young of falling in love with Peter Townsend, a man ruled unsuitable because he was divorced. Then there was her husband, the ambitious Tony Armstrong-Jones, and more recently her constant companion, Roddy Llewellyn, 17 years younger than the Princess. Dempster details all this breathlessly, as in the following passage: "On October 12, Townsend set off from Brussels in his green Renault. Margaret curtailed her stay at Balmoral and, wearing a biscuit-colored suit with a pleated skirt and a. double string of pearls, boarded a train at Aberdeen, waving at the station to a small crowd of well-wishers. As the express steamed south, the rhythm of the rails might have spelt out to her the message, 'I will marry, I will marry, I will marry' " Margaret is quoted at one point: "I have been misreported and misrepresented since the age of 17 and I gave up long ago reading about myself." This book will not change her attitude. (Macmillan, $11.95)

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