Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Royal Review - The Grace Kelly years, Princess of Monaco

This may or may not be a good quality to have. I have a habit of buying things sight unseen or unheard. For example, if a new album comes out by Seal or Robbie Williams, I will buy it before I've even heard a note. The same with books. Well, some books anyway...If a book comes out, say on Prince Charles, I won't immediately order it. However if the book is about Diana, the Queen, or in this case Grace Kelly, I will automatically buy it. I'm rarely if ever disappointed, so maybe this isn't such a bad quality after all.

One disadvantage to being in Canada is that royal exhibits rarely come here. Sure we had the exhibit of Diana's dresses in 1998 and the Diana: a celebration exhibit came in 2004, but I had to originally travel to Althorp to see it. I missed out on the Queen's 80th birthday and the Royal wedding exhibits at Buckingham Palace. While it isn't the same as seeing them in person, luckily I have two books to compensate for that. This time I'm missing out on the Grace Kelly exhibit in Monaco. September 14, 2007 marked the 25th anniversary of her death and this exhibit pays homage to her. At least I have a book to console me for being on the wrong continent.

The Grace Kelly Years, Princess of Monaco is a unique book in that, unlike many exhibit books, it's comprehensive. One frustrating thing that I've found from exhibit books is that they usually offer only part of the display - mainly the highlights - thus leaving me wanting more. The same cannot be said of this book. If after 304 pages you haven't learned something new about her, read it again.

Authorized by the royal family with items from the palace archives, this book doesn't offer sensational details of her life. It presents her in context of her life as Grace Kelly, the girl from Philadelphia, to movie star to Princess of Monaco. The objects on display are charming: her scrapbook containing items from significant moments of her youth - gum wrappers, matchbook covers, napkins, and movie tickets. These mementos reveal a sentimental side obscured by the 'ice-queen' descriptions during her acting career.

This book is a love letter to her memory by the only people who are truly authorized to do so - her children. In life she was a private person, so there's a sense of generosity in allowing us a glimpse of previously unseen family snapshots, letters, love notes, stills from family movies, and jewels, including her engagement ring. Less private, but no less interesting are advertisements from her modelling days, the dresses she wore when she won her Oscar, and at her civil wedding ceremony.

Interestingly, at her wedding in 1956 there were no royal heads of state in attendance. When she died, representatives from royal houses came in numbers to pay tribute to a woman who was more than just a beautiful woman, but someone who had surpassed it and become a much loved and respected figure on the world stage. Like Grace Kelly: A Life in Pictures this book gives us a glimpse of a remarkable woman who 25 years after her death, still continues to fascinate.

Click here to order this book

© Marilyn Braun 2007

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1 comment:

political wife said...

That was a very touching review. I am tempted to get it for my mom who remembers when Grace Kelly became Princess Grace.