Books, Music, Non-Fiction, Reviews

Book Review: ‘Beautiful Strange’ – Life with His Purple Highness

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Mayte Garcia has the rare distinction of knowing Prince as both his wife, the mother of his two children and also as an employee. With her first book The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince, she takes us inside her relationship and history with the musician, from her first meeting at 16 years of age, through to the final years of her marriage and subsequent divorce.

As many private details of Prince’s notoriously secretive life have been laid bare over the 12 months since his death, Mayte is careful not to drag her former husband or his reputation through the mud. She touches on their courtship and eventual sexual relationship, and their fraught experiences with child birth. She also recounts circumstances related to Prince’s drug use.

This is no “tell all”, this is Mayte’s story – the story of a young dancer thrust into the intoxicating and controlling orbit of one of the world’s most famous musicians. And it’s clear she still loves and respects him deeply.

It’s probably no surprise to many that Prince exerted as much passion and control in his love life and he did with his work life.

The Most Beautiful sequentially charts all the key moments of their relationship – both the things we know (or think we do) plus the first-hand experiences and recollections that we don’t. A significant element of this biography is Mayte and Prince’s two unsuccessful attempts to have children. Their first child named Ahmir (Prince in Arabic) was born with a rare congenital defect, Pfieffer Syndrome, and died a week later – resulting in intense media scrutiny and months of tabloid headlines. The couple also attempted to have a second child but it miscarried. The significance of these two events on their relationship can’t be understated and Mayte’s retelling of what took place and the toll it took on both herself and Prince is heart-breaking. Mayte shares that she almost committed suicide shortly after the infamous Oprah interview following the passing of their first child. Behind the scenes, Prince began emotionally withdrawing, immersing himself further in his work and, in hindsight, Mayte says the first troubling signs of his drug use started to reveal themselves.

Another key element of the book is how controlling Prince was, and strangely, how accepting of that Mayte was for much of their marriage. It’s probably no surprise to many that Prince exerted as much passion and control in his love life and he did with his work life. Yet, it is often stunning to hear the many compromises Mayte made to be with Prince and the series of indignities (including other affairs) she suffered at the hands of the man she loved.

The Most Beautiful is a respectful and compelling biography that pulls back the purple curtain just enough to give you a better understanding of Mayte and Prince’s unique relationship – one where, in many ways, they were captives in a cage of their own creation. In the tradition of many love stories, it’s filled with tragedy and leaves the reader wondering – if their attempts at parenthood had been successful, might their marriage have survived and might Prince still be alive today?

The Most Beautiful: My Life With Prince by Mayte Garcia is published by Hachette  

You can buy the book here


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