Reviews for Spare

by Prince Harry

Publishers Weekly
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Sibling rivalry, fatherly neglect, and the crushing weight of public opinion haunt this anguished, searching, and occasionally vindictive memoir from Prince Harry. Framing the narrative as an attempt to explain why he and his wife, Meghan Markle, fled the U.K. “in fear for our sanity and physical safety” in 2020, Harry begins with Princess Diana’s death in 1997, recounting how he and his brother William were made to walk behind their mother’s coffin “to garner sympathy.” For years afterward, Harry harbored a belief that Diana had disappeared to escape the paparazzi—an illusion that enabled him “to postpone the bulk of my grief.” Made to feel like a “nullity” by his family, he found solace and companionship on safari trips to Africa and boozy nights with friends, but the tabloids turned “basic teenage stuff” into allegations of drug addiction and his father chose “to play ball” rather than fight back. Time and time again, the twin pressures of the royal family and the British media scuttled Harry’s search for meaning and purpose, leaving him beset by panic attacks and self-doubt, until he met Meghan—and then those same specters turned on her. The mix of dirty laundry and earnest soul-baring sometimes jars, but Harry’s frustrations are deeply felt and authentically conveyed, as is the joy he takes in nature and in his friendships. This royal family tell-all delivers. (Jan.)

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A royal tell-all with some substance. Arriving at the end of the royal couple’s multimedia barrage that included a six-part Netflix documentary, Prince Harry’s eagerly anticipated memoir delivers further revelations about his struggles within the institution of the British monarchy and the unrelenting harassment he has endured from the British tabloids. The author also offers insights into his reported feuds with his brother, Prince William, and father, King Charles—most recently regarding his relationship with his wife, Meghan Markle. It may seem that Prince Harry has a particular ax to grind, and this notion intensifies as he recounts the events related to his courtship of Meghan. However, his story is more substantive than some readers might expect, depending on their loyalties to the monarchy. Beginning with memories of his mother’s tragic death in 1997, the author moves on to his lackluster schooling at Eton and his more remarkable career in the British Army (he served two combat tours in Afghanistan). The narrative frequently casts evocative light on the inner workings of the British monarchy and the various players involved. While his pen may be more harshly directed toward his father and brother than to others, such as Queen Elizabeth, the author also provides interesting glimpses into the likes of Prince Philip and Camilla, queen consort. If sometimes disparaging, his portraits are also surprisingly sympathetic. The prose is competent, and the author’s tales are consistently engaging—and far less smarmy than the self-aggrandizing tone set in the Netflix series. Readers may question Prince Harry’s motives, but his emotional struggles, though occasionally rendered in an overwrought fashion, feel palpable and heartfelt. “My problem has never been with the monarchy, nor the concept of monarchy,” he writes. “It’s been with the press and the sick relationship that’s evolved between it and the Palace. I love my Mother Country, and I love my family, and I always will.” A harrowing, sporadically self-serving account of life in and away from the British monarchy. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.