Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 02/7/23 6:40 AM

Book review: Spare by Prince Harry

The Spare strikes back

So here are the facts as we know it:

  • The book flew off the shelves in the prince`s home country, as fast as that other Harry`s broomstick on the Quidditch field, selling 1. 4 million copies on its launch day itself.
  • That it`s one big whinge-fest from a seriously troubled not-so-young man who blithely breaks the Code of the Windsors in washing very dirty linen out in the open. If it`s a form of catharsis, let`s  hope that the prince has achieved some sort of closure, on the tragedy of his mother`s death when we was a stripling of 12,  if not on his fractious relationship with the ultimate stiff-upper-lip family he belongs to.

And here are the things we come to know from the book:

  • The less- than- savoury  reputation Harry acquired over  the years was largely due to his inability to resolve the trauma that sat on his shoulders like big black boulders, from the time Diana died. His Mommy complex is so huge, it tends to dominate, indeed overwhelm all other strings to his particular lute. At times the accounts appear as rather infantile, the way he clings to her memories, believes she sends him messages through animals in the wild at Botswana. At other times, it gets tediously in the way of the story being told.
  • He tends to blame everybody and everything else for the mess that he feels his life has largely become. Pa (Prince Charles) the waffling but caring man who just won`t step up to the plate where finances are concerned. Camilla, the stepmother he tries to keep a polite distance from while allowing  his  dislike to show through, especially when he terms it `the era of Camilla.`  Big Brother Willy cast as main villain, the old Heir vs Spare thingie. Willy is cold, uncaring, jealous, roughs up our poor prince at least once, after they have outgrown their childhood fisticuff bouts, and so on, ad nauseam, ad nauseatingly. Kate Middleton Windsor, another member of the Cold Brigade, someone Harry seemed to get on famously with till his wife entered the scene.

But it’s the press and the paps  that Harry loathes the most. It is no one`s contention that the paps are a kind or considerate lot but Harry`s continued spewing at their practices tends to get…yes, tedious. Several times during the read, this reader wanted to stand up and shout, `So yes, life`s tough. Get over it, lad! Check your privilege, mate!`

There are quite a few India mentions through the book: Meghan`s trip to India in 2017; a tailor named Ajay to see to the wedding alterations; the couple`s deep belief in Ayurveda; Deva Premal`s Sanskrit mantras  played to Meghan as she goes into labour.

However,  you’ve got to appreciate his self- introspection when he talks of a failure of thinking, character, education where his behaviour is concerned. The war bits too, make for interesting reading, as does a Windsor`s views on monarchy (carefully ambiguous as expected). Mention of a frostbitten penis, peeing in his pants, going to a séance where the medium tells him Diana is there with him at the moment,  and suchlike were meant to be warmly confiding but ends up with the reader going,  TMI! As for the accounts of his abusing drugs, it would appear that he does drugs a lot. Or did.

Too much information

So yes, we do feel sorry for the personal troubles of the prince. We feel sorry when Meghan and he suffer a miscarriage. But is  the tittle- tattle about the royal family controversial for us here in India? Nope.  This Englishman with a decided persecution complex, keeps account of all slights real and perceived, and takes himself way too seriously. And more importantly, needs a better therapist.

Spare has been    ghost- written by J. R. Moehringer , an American journalist and for the most part, he lets the voice of the prince come through. It`s when he adds flourishes — like Harry telling us his was an existentialist life, or sprinkles undiluted Americanisms being uttered by an Englishman, like `felt wide of the mark,` `made a step towards them,` `seemed checked out,` uses arch nemesis for arch enemy, balk for baulk,  says `took my breath` without  the `away,`  — that the reader`s eyebrows go up.

The Duke of Sussex is reported to have pocketed something to the tune of $20 million from the publishing house as advance. One can only hope the money goes some way, as indeed the act of telling the world his troubles, in ameliorating his inner upheaval.

Because a sequel to Spare (what a splendid title, by the way) is going to be too tedious to bear. Plus, it might well encourage other spares—like the beleaguered younger brother of one of India`s richest industrialists for instance, to pen down his travails, too.

Spare By Prince Harry. Penguin Random House Books. Rs 1,599. 416 pages.

This ran in the Sunday Express Magazine of 5 February 2023. 



book reviewbooksBritish royal familyJ R MoehringerMeghan MarklememoirPenguin Random House BooksPrince HarrySparewashing dirty linenWindsors

Sheila Kumar • February 7, 2023

Previous Post

Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *