'The Princess Diaries' - by Meg Cabot Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

'The Princess Diaries' - by Meg Cabot

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The Princess Diaries is a series of books for teenagers, written by American author Meg Cabot. The books have been widely successful and extremely popular since the release of the first book in 2000. Disney enthusiastically opted to make a series of films based on the books. The first book in the series made it into the BBC's Big Read at number 99, and the author has stated that many more sequels are planned.

All about Mia and her Diaries

Amelia 'Mia' Thermopolis is 14 years old and lives in New York with her (single) mother, artist Helen Thermopolis. Mia is a first year at Albert Einstein High School and is mostly concerned about homework, friendship and boyfriend problems, why she is flunking algebra - oh, and the fact that her mother is dating her algebra teacher.

Mia incessantly writes in her journal. Each journal entry has the date, time and location at the top. Mia writes about her experiences, what is happening, and what she thinks and feels about this. Mia occasionally also writes lists, notes to her friends, and sticks transcripts of Internet instant messages and emails in her diaries.

A typical journal entry will include a description of what is taking place, Mia's reaction to that, a few complaints about people and the words 'totally', 'whatever' and 'cool'.

Mia's diary is extremely modern, containing mentions of current affairs of the 21st Century as well as transcripts of her computer usage. This is probably part of the reason why the books are so popular with today's children.

Mia's Friends and Enemies

Mia has a small group of friends that - apart from a few ups and downs, break-ups and reunions - generally stays with her throughout the books. Her best friend is Lilly Moscovitz, a highly intelligent girl with psychoanalyst parents (something that is a cause of great distress to Mia). Lilly loves public campaigns, rallies and free speech and makes her own television show Lilly Tells It Like It Is, which runs on a public access channel once a week.

Lilly has an older brother, Michael, who is also a good friend of Mia's. He helps her with her algebra homework. Tina Hakim Baba is another good friend of Mia's and they have many things in common - such as both having bodyguards! Other friends of Mia are Shameeka and Ling Su.

Mia's nemesis is a girl at her school - a popular blonde cheerleader named Lana Weinberger, who is extremely talented at bullying, put-downs and causing problems.

During the first book, Mia has a few complaints about having no love life. Though she does end up with various dates and boyfriends during the books, their identities will remain secret in this entry.

Okay, that's cool, but why is it called The Princess Diaries?

The reason for the title of these books is that Mia is a princess! Mia had no idea of this until she was fourteen. After a bout of testicular cancer, Mia's father (who never married Mia's mother and separated from her long ago) was rendered infertile, leaving Mia as his only surviving child, and therefore heir to the throne.

Heir to What?

Unknown to Mia, her grandmother ('Grandmere') is a 'Dowager Princess' and her father the Prince of a small European nation named Genovia1. Genovia is a small, very rich monarchy located near France, and Mia is its Princess.

So then what happens?

Mia's grandmother, who is a rather scary woman that Mia hardly knows, decides it is a very good idea for her to give Mia 'princess lessons'. Mia doesn't like this idea at all. She thinks she's not a very good princess, and would much prefer to spend evenings doing her homework and watching TV than learning about royal cutlery and how to accept a rose.

Being a princess ends up being added to Mia's already huge list of problems. Mia's life becomes increasingly difficult, something made far worse by the fact she has to undergo a complete makeover and having a bodyguard follow her around everywhere. And her mother is still dating her algebra teacher!

Princess Diaries Film

The Disney film of The Princess Diaries appeared in 2001, with a sequel released in 2004. Julie Andrews plays Grandmere and Anne Hathaway is Mia. There are many differences between film and book. Some of these changes are due to the fact that the film can't really be a diary written in first-person. However the audience is still able to empathise with Mia.

The second film, Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement was not based on the second book. It was merely based on the main characters, with a completely different storyline not related to the books. It is set in Genovia, where Mia, having completed university, discovers she must get married in order to become the valid heir to the throne. Interestingly, in some of the books, Mia mentions in her diary the inaccurate films being made about her life and how annoying they are!

More About the Books

The English titles of the books are different in different countries. The titles are as follows:

  • The Princess Diaries
  • The Princess Diaries: Take Two/Princess in the Spotlight
  • The Princess Diaries: Third Time Lucky/Princess in Love
  • The Princess Diaries: Mia Goes Fourth/Princess in Waiting
  • The Princess Diaries: Give Me Five/Princess in Pink
  • The Princess Diaries: Sixsational/Princess in Training
  • The Princess Diaries: Seventh Heaven/Party Princess
Some companion books, all focusing on the general theme of Mia and princesses, are also available. Meg Cabot plans to write ten books in total, with The Princess Diaries: After Eight published in January 2007.

1Genovia is suspiciously like Monaco, only with a different name. However, Monaco is also mentioned independently in the books, implying that in Mia's world there is both a Monaco and a Genovia.

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