Glamour and Grace

GRACE OF MONACO: THE TRUE STORY

BY JEFFREY ROBINSON

 

I finally made it to Monte Carlo last year. A lifelong dream of mine, I spent a whole day sight-seeing around the tiny Principality of Monaco. I’d always been drawn to it by the star-studded glamour, the famous Grand Prix and of course Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo!

But what really struck me during my whistle-stop tour of the place was the enduring presence of its much loved Princess Grace Kelly more than 30 years after her death.

The dazzling movie star from Philadelphia had lit up the big screen in the 1950s opposite James Stewart, Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra in highly acclaimed films such as Rear Window, To Catch a Thief and High Society.

However, she retired from acting at the age of 26 when she became Princess Grace of Monaco after meeting, falling in love with and marrying the Principality’s ruling Prince Ranier III.

Their relationship became one of the most famous romances of the 20th century and the real inside story of it has been updated and revised here to coincide with the recent release of Grace of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman. The film may have been panned (I haven’t seen it yet so cannot comment) but don’t let that put you off this fascinating read.

It is extraordinary that author Jeffrey Robinson wrote this story about the world’s most glamorous family with the full cooperation of Ranier and his three children. Robinson had got to know Grace when he lived in France and his friendship with the Grimaldi household is evident as they divulge private moments and delightful insight into the life of Princess Grace – their wife, their mother.

And it is these insights that bring us close to the funny, kind, warm and giving woman. Down to earth, family focused but dignified in her duties as the Princess. She appears to me to have been the first ‘People’s Princess’ long before Diana was given that mantle.

Robinson takes us from her early days in acting, through her successful film career, how Grace and Ranier met, the extravagant wedding, the ups and downs in her children’s lives. But this is so much more than a Grace Kelly biography because our writer also introduces us to the strange and wonderful place that is Monaco and we learn much of Monagasque life then and now and how the Princess fitted into that.

This is a very biased account of the modern Grimaldi family. I’m sure there is another side, a darker side, they are human after all and certainly the love-lives of Grace’s children have been spectacular and devastating and could warrant books of their own. But I read this as a romance and a portrait of a place that I loved even before I went there.

Grace of Monaco is written with a captivating, informed and charming tone and even the accident that ended her life is dealt with sensitively and without sensationalising it.

Be warned that after reading the book you either want to settle down with a DVD boxset of her greatest hits or catch the next flight to the South of France. The latter might just blow your savings!

SOUTHSEA BOOKWORM RATING: 9/10

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