Friday Book Whimsy: Meet Me in Monaco: A Novel of Grace Kelly’s Royal Wedding

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.

Here is a link to the book. 



Friday Book Whimsy: The Girl From the Savoy

Having spent the past couple of years slogging my way through World War II historical novels, I have become somewhat addicted to stories that take place in a much more hopeful era – the Roaring Twenties. True, there were those poor souls returning from fighting in the horrific First World War, but in the 1920s, people were optimistic that things would be better and that they would be able to find alcohol even in the midst of temperance.

The Girl from The Savoy, a novel written by the prolific author Hazel Gaynor, tells the story of one young woman who was darkly impacted by World War I, but faces the future with great hope and spirit.

Dolly Lane, a talented dancer, has always dreamed of being in show business. Her dream conflicted with her love for hometown boyfriend Teddy, who is a victim of World War I. Through the help of a friend, Dolly gets a job as a housekeeper at London’s famed Savoy Hotel, where she hopes to become recognized by some of the famous show business people who live there.

She has a chance encounter with a young businessman as she rushes to work on the first day, and can’t begin to imagine how that encounter will impact her life. It isn’t long before Dolly answers an unusual ad to be a muse to a young songwriter. Through this position, she meets and becomes friends with well-known actress Loretta May, who will change Dolly’s life. But Loretta has her own sad secret. Wars have a way of affecting everyone in some way or the other.

Though Dolly is the star of the show, the novel is told in three separate voices. The author does a great job of keeping the voices unique but consistent, thereby eliminating confusion. It isn’t long before Dolly faces some difficult choices which will pave the way for the rest of her life.

The author is recognized as a romance writer, but the novel is not sappy-sweet and the characters are likeable. I love the descriptions of The Savoy Hotel, almost feeling its elegance. The ending is satisfying if somewhat predictable.

Here is a link to the book.