Note: This book will be published on July 23, 2019. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair review. I do not make any money off of this blog. Even the links provided to Amazon are merely a courtesy for readers.
While covering the Cannes Film Festival, photographer James Henderson and perfumer Sophie Duval, meet when Duval hides film star Grace Kelly in her shop. Soon Henderson is covering Grace’s introduction to Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Sophie is given a unique opportunity [no spoilers!]. Oh, and there’s conflict! And romance! And an ocean voyage! And a darn cute poodle!
My Mom was and is a huge Grace Kelly fan. Grace was everything today’s Hollywood stars are not: Ladylike, gentile, cultured, sophisticated. This book depicted Grace exactly as my Mom taught me to imagine her. Jim Henderson, a British war vet, and businesswoman Sophie add the right “base notes” for the story, while Grace was the headnote (to use the lingo in the book).
The stories of Grace, Jim, Sophie and the rest intertwine with the story told in alternating chapters in Jim or Sophie’s voice. Interspersed are news stories detailing more of Grace’s story–a storytelling device that, in this instance, worked very well. I truly felt like I was reading the real news as the story was unfolding. I found myself rooting for Sophie and anguished at one [no spoilers!] event in her story.
I liked what wasn’t covered nearly as much as the actual story. We were spared potentially cringe-inducing love scenes between Miss Kelly and His Serene Highness, for which I am glad. The story is as much about the making of the princess of our imaginations as it is about the real Grace Kelly. I loved too that there were surprises–twists and turns as unexpected as the curves on that mountain road on which Grace and Cary Grant drove in To Catch a Thief and which would later end Grace’s life.
I would love a sequel–but to tell a different story. How is THAT for confusing? I’d love to hear the story of journalist Angeline West, whose byline heads the news stories throughout the book. As a “gal” who has always been the “buddy” to the leading man, I’d love to see Ms. West in a book of her own–a book in which she finally gets the man, but keeps her byline! Kind of like a grown-up Julie Murphy novel, but told by two authors whose talent for historical fiction has few equals today.
This book is the perfect way to remember Grace. Put on your sunglasses, wear a classic maillot swimsuit and read this gem with your favorite cold beverage. It is just made for reading on a sunny day either poolside or on the beach. Read it with your Mom (as I did) or with your daughter. There is nothing in it that is inappropriate for a young girl who needs someone to idolize once she outgrows the pretend Disney princesses and is ready for a real princess.
Meet Me in Monaco: A Novel by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
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