I was 3 years old when the bell of Hollywood — Grace Kelly — married Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Had I been older, I would undoubtedly have been as enamored of that romantic story as I have been of all of the love affairs and marriages of the Windsors in Great Britain. I love me some queens and princesses.
I recently read a novel about two women who helped make the wedding gown for Princess Elizabeth, now queen of Great Britain. I found that I loved that story primarily for the descriptions of the gown and the wedding. Because I so enjoyed that story, when Meet Me in Monaco: A Novel of Grace Kelly’s Royal Wedding showed up as a recommendation, I was on it!
The novel is like eating a French pastry and drinking a cup of café au lait in Paris. Or more accurately for this book, in the French Riviera. It is light and delicious and I loved every word of it.
It is a novel, so except for the wedding, not much of it is factual. Still, every time the authors — Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb — would describe how Grace Kelly was dressed, I would get busy with Google images to see for myself. The book took way longer to read because I spent a considerable amount of time looking at pictures of the oh-so-beautiful Grace.
It is a love story, but don’t let that put you off. The romance is part of the fun. Sophie Duval is the proprietor of a perfume shop in Canne, France. She inherited the love for the making of perfume from her father, from whom she learned about flowers and herbs and the chemistry involved in perfume making.
It is 1956, and Hollywood actress Grace Kelly is in Canne for the film festival. The immensely beautiful woman is one of the most popular people in the world, and her presence is noted by the papparazi who follow her everywhere. One day, to escape a photographer, she runs into the perfume shop and asks Sophie to hide her, which she does. The two women become friends. But Sophie is unexpectedly attracted to the English photographer, and they, too, develop a friendship.
The story told by the two authors is — well, to use a word that would have been popular in the late 1950s when the story takes place — DREAMY. In addition to the romance involving Sophie and James (the photographer), you also have the romance involving Grace Kelly and her prince.
The descriptions of the area are so vivid that I actually could see the colors of the Mediterranean and taste the food and wine. It really was great story-telling.
Great romantic fluff for a day when a reader is feeling blue.