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Grace Kelly was one of Hollywood’s most glamorous women, and her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956 captivated the world. She was one of Alfred Hitchcock’s favourite actresses, won the admiration of women everywhere for appearing as close to her natural self in her films and rejecting the “studio look”, and she was a fashion icon. Combine all of this with a somewhat mysterious persona (she didn’t enjoy publicity or talking to the press), and her tragic untimely death, and it’s easy to see why people are still so enamoured with her decades later.

 

I love reading about Hollywood actors and actresses from Hollywood’s Golden Age. It was an era of true movie stars, glamour and style. I personally couldn’t carry off the iconic dresses that Grace Kelly wore, but I love looking at them, and like so many others, I find her life fascinating.

 

What I especially enjoy is reading  novels that portray real people such as Grace Kelly. I learn something about an interesting figure from history while still getting caught up in a story.  That’s why I was delighted to discover one recent and two forthcoming novels where Grace Kelly appears or features  as a character in the story.

 

The first is Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb’s 2019 novel Meet Me In Monaco, which received a rave review in The New York Times, and was listed as one of In Style’s and PopSugar’s recommended summer reads. The story is set in the 1950s in Cannes, using Grace Kelly’s romance and wedding to Prince Rainier as a backdrop for a romance between two fictional characters parfumeur Sophie Duvall and British tabloid photographer James Henderson.

 

Both characters are inadvertently connected to Grace Kelly. Sophie offered her sanctuary from the photographers while James meets Sophie when he follows Grace into her shop. The narrative shifts between James’ and Sophie’s points of view, and is interspersed with news reports about Grace Kelly and the upcoming wedding. Both fans of Grace Kelly and fans of improbable love stories will love this book, and it’s hard not to be drawn into the glamourous and exotic setting.

 

The other two novels were released in early 2020. From February, the title was The Girl in White Gloves: A Novel of Grace Kelly by Kerri Maher. Grace Kelly is the star of this biographical novel, and the author takes readers behind the scenes to look at the private life and struggles of Kelly to not lose herself in her Hollywood identity, and to manage the expectations of her family and her new royal obligations. The chapters alternate between a young Grace just starting out, and the older, more experienced Grace and is filled with rich historical detail. I’m looking forward to reading this and learning a little bit more about the woman beneath the crown.

 

From March came The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz. Similar to The Gown by Jennifer Robson, this novel focuses on her famous wedding dress and three generations of women tied to the dress, beginning a young seamstress who is tasked with sewing a copy of the gown. The book is about love, family, creating and keeping traditions, and how a dress can fulfill impossible dreams. 

 

I love generational stories, and they’re something I relate to.  My maternal grandmother eloped, and I’m several inches taller than my mom and my grandmother so there was never any opportunity for a dress to be handed down, but there have been other things that they've passed down. For as long as I can remember, both my grandmother and my mother have shared their family traditions with me and my brother, and have emphasized the importance of not letting them die. In the years I’ve been with my partner, we’ve created our own traditions as well, and they are ones which I hold dear.

 

The Grace Kelly Dress is the perfect book club book, and the author has a discussion guide, links relating to the book, information about writing the book, and an essay about her inspiration for the novel on her website if you or your reading group would like to learn more. This is definitely high up on the "to-be-read" pile.

 

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Happy Reading!

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