Diane Prather

Diane Prather

Diane Prather: 'Princess Mia' stirs things up

— Meg Cabot's "Princess Diaries" are books popular with young adults, perhaps because some of them were made into Disney movies.

There are nine volumes of these novels, plus three others that were illustrated by Chesley McLaren. Sixteen-year-old Mia (short for Amelia) Thermopolis, Princess of Genovia, is the central character of each book.

"Princess Mia" is Cabot's ninth and most recent novel of the series. It was just released in January 2008 and is the featured book in this week's column.

Because I had not read any of the other "Princess Diaries" books, it took me a few chapters to catch on as to the characters and what has happened to them previously.

Mia is the princess of Genovia, but she doesn't live there. That goes for the immediate family members, too. Her father is Prince Phillip (actually Prince Artur Christoff Phillipe Gerald Grimaldi Renaldo). He has some sort of special duties at the General Assembly.

Mia lives with her mother and her husband, Mr. Gianini, their young son, Rocky, and Fat Louie, Mia's cat. Also hanging around is Lars, Mia's bodyguard.

The Dowager Princess Clarisse is Mia's grandmother. Mia calls her Grandmere.

When Mia turns 18, she will start receiving a yearly salary as Princess of Genovia. Until then, she attends Albert Einstein High School and has friends like every other teen.

However, Mia has to attend princess classes, is hovered over by a bodyguard, and always is in the media's eye.

As the novel opens, Mia has broken up with Michael, a commoner and her boyfriend of two years. Michael is on his way to Japan and, as a college student, will do some top secret work in robotics. Mia is anxiously awaiting his call so she can apologize and they can make up.

But, the next morning's New York Post features headlines that don't help things one bit. "Heartbroken Princess Finds New Love" is accompanied by a photo of Mia leaving the theater, where she saw a Broadway show with her friend, J.P. The story claims he's the son of John Paul Reynolds Abernathy IV.

Meanwhile, Grandmere has sent Mia a letter by special messenger. It's on fancy stationery with a red seal. It seems that Mia has been invited to give the keynote address at a benefit for African orphans. Two thousand women will be there.

Grandmere insists that Mia give the speech because when she's 18, she'll be invited to join Domina Rei, the influential women's society to which Audrey Hepburn belonged. Oprah Winfrey currently is a member.

But, when Michael says he thinks they should stay broken up, Mia dresses in her Hello, Kitty pajamas and takes to her bed with symptoms of all sorts of diseases. She sneaks snacks when she thinks nobody is watching.

This goes on for four days until her father arrives. He has Lars pick her up, pajamas and all, and toss her into the limo. From there, they go directly to the office of Dr. Knutz, a cowboy psychologist, who owns a ranch in Montana.

The novel is comical, but there's a twist. Mia finds a secret diary belonging to a previous Genovia princess, and its contents stir things up.

I can see why young adults enjoy these books.

Meg Cabot is one busy author. Besides the "Princess Diaries," she has written 30 other novels, some for adults.

"Princess Mia" is published by Harper Teen. The hardcover book costs $16.99. The book can also be found at the Moffat County Library.

Copyright Diane Prather, 2008. All rights reserved.

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