The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 4, 2008

Book review: ‘Wannabe Princess’ takes herself far too seriously

It’s an accepted fact that many little girls want to be princesses. (As someone who spent her formative years basking in the glow of Disney cartoons and who still escapes into Meg Cabot’s “Princess Diaries” books, I am not one to judge.) However, most of us grow up and realize that, hey, it’s time to put away the crown and get on with everyday life.

Not so the author of “Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess.” Jerramy Fine — yes, she’s aware she has a boy’s name — never quite got hit with that reality check.

At first, I appreciated the inherent humor in the situation as she recounts growing up in a small Colorado town, the daughter of hippies. Their penchant for nudity, opposition to TV and insistence on growing their own food didn’t sit well with young Jerramy, who from an early age was mortified by her family and fantasized about being sent away to English boarding school. Needless to say, she did not get her wish.

She compensates by living her life as if she were in another time, another place. She spends her childhood allowance on Royalty magazine and watches “My Fair Lady” over and over again. Before she departs for college, she plans “a formal turn-of-the-century English country house-style” dinner party for 20 that ends up with all the class of a “high-school beer fest.” She even mystifies the clerk in her hometown liquor store when she tries to use her passport as ID when buying alcohol.

The turning point in her life, however, occurs when she is all of 6 years old. After coming across a picture of Princess Anne’s son, Peter Phillips, she determines he is her soul mate. This is also the point where, for me, the book jumps the proverbial shark, for Jerramy proceeds to plan her entire life so that it moves her ever closer to her goal of marrying — yes, she’s serious, folks — Peter Phillips.

She does everything she can to escape her embarrassing family and indulge her obsession with all things English. She attends college out of state. While a student, she lands herself an internship in London, at the House of Commons, right after “dreamy” Tony Blair becomes Prime Minister. She does post-graduate work at the London School of Economics, as a Swiss finishing school is out of her price range. After she earns her economics degree, she finds a job that keeps her in London.

While attempting to maneuver herself into a royal marriage, Jerramy doesn’t exactly act like a princess should. While in college, she gets mad crushes on any boy with an English accent. When she reaches London, she falls in with a hard-partying, upper-crust Oxford crowd and becomes their American mascot; even now, I cringe with embarrassment for her at every condescending, back-handed compliment they bestow on her. She gets mixed up with truly wacko flatmates. She also repeatedly — we’re not talking once or twice, but frequently and stupidly — finds herself in inappropriate situations with various Englishmen who are not Peter Phillips, then wonders why they never call her after one night of romance. All the while, she behaves in a stalkerish manner, trying to meet various members of the royal family, including Princess Anne, in an attempt to get to Peter Phillips.

The final straw for me is Jerramy’s reaction to the death of Princess Diana. Although saddened when the princess died unexpectedly, I was also more than a bit repulsed by the overly dramatic outpouring of emotion; people acted as if a member of their family had died. Jerramy is no different. It was all I could do not to roll my eyes as she describes her pilgrimage — her word — to Althorp, the family estate where Diana is buried, for a “sad, soul-cleansing trip.” A footnote in this chapter reads: “I recommend visiting for more info about the [Diana, Princess of Wales] memorial fund. When I first heard the news of Diana’s death, donating to this fund was instrumental to my healing process.”

Is she kidding? Unfortunately, no.

Does Jerramy meet Peter Phillips? I’d love to tell you and spare you having to slog through the book, which I had to force myself to finish, but I hate it when reviews spill secrets. And you very well might enjoy “Someday My Prince Will Come.” Sadly, I did not. It had flashes of humor, but Jerramy Fine takes herself far too seriously for my taste. If she’d had some laughs at her expense, I might have been more tolerant.

Then again, what do I know? I put away my princess crown a long time ago.

Lisa E. Brown is the administrative assistant at the Joplin Public Library.