It’s confession time, folks: I am twenty-two years old and this summer was my first time reading The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. Now, some of you may be thinking, Well, Holly, that’s not so bad. But it gets worse: before reading this book I had only ever seen the second Princess Diaries movie, not even the first one. *cue gasps of shock and horror* I know, I know, it’s a wild life I lead. Since I watched the second movie when I was eight years old, all I could really remember about it was Julie Andrews, Anne Hathaway, and the fantastic soundtrack I used to listen to on my Walkman in the back of my parents’ car. Because of my strange relationship with this story in its many forms, I thought I had a pretty solid idea of what reading this book would be like.
As you can probably imagine, my vague initial expectations of Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries stand corrected.
This book was far more hilarious, wacky, witty, and timeless than I expected. Although this book was published back in 2000, at times it felt like it could have been written yesterday (apart from its mention of instant messenger chat online). Lily, Mia’s best friend, struck me as very ahead of her time–not just in terms of her age, but also in terms of her attention to issues in New York City. While their views were sometimes problematic (Lily’s petition, for instance) at least this book touches on issues of race, gender, and the environment. I especially love Mia’s mom as a feminist figure. She’s not afraid to date other men even as Mia’s father is at her house dealing with the princess dilemma.
This book is also just hilarious. Between Mia’s narration and all of the wacky situations she finds herself in, there were so many moments that made me chuckle as I read. I especially loved Mia’s essay on women she admires as well as all of her interactions with Grandmére. As frustrating as Grandmére was, she was also really fun to read about. Every aspect of this book seems to operate at a heightened level of drama, but it works well because it’s all kept within its own intense, ridiculous world. (Also, is this the original Hannah Montana or what?)
The gradual, solid character growth in this book pleasantly surprised me. It was refreshing to see Mia befriend Tina, another royal at her school, and stay true to that friendship. I also liked how Mia and Lily’s friendship was realistic: friends fight over petty things sometimes, but in the end Lily was there for Mia when it counted, as any good friend should be. Mia’s experiences with guys also showed a lot of growth–which was honestly so satisfying to read, not going to lie. I’m so happy with how this book ended that it almost makes me not want to continue on with the rest of the series… even though I think it’s pretty clear that I inevitably will pick up the next book after such a great reading experience.
Overall, The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot surprised me in a great way. The narration is witty, the character growth is refreshing, the social commentary is thought-provoking, and the ending is lovely. This book is all around an entertaining, fun read. I can’t believe it took me twenty-two years to finally read it…
What are your thoughts on The Princess Diaries? Have you continued on with the rest of the series? Let me know in the comments section below!