For the Grace Kelly Blogathon this year, I wanted to do something a bit special and review a recently published novel involving her called Meet me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb.
I was a bit skeptical about reading the book, as I didn’t particularly enjoy Ms. Gaynor’s novel, The Girl from the Savoy but there was something that magnetized me into reading this novel: The presence of Grace Kelly.
Meet me in Monaco is set against the 1950s French Riviera. Our main character Sophie is a perfumer who learned the trade from her beloved, but deceased father, while the leading man is James (Jim) Henderson, a British photographer who is re-adjusting to life after WWII. It’s a chance first meeting for Sophie and James when Grace Kelly hides in Sophie’s shop trying to evade the paparazzi- and it sets off a chain of events that connect these three characters for over 30 years.
The narrative in the book begins during the 1955 Cannes Film Festival with the main portion taking place during 1956 with Grace’s courtship and wedding to Prince Rainier. Grace fans are in for a real treat as several things are mentioned that her fans will get a kick out of: her dog Oliver (a gift from Mr Cary Grant!), her taste in French perfume, the first meeting of Rainier, and even the voyage to Monaco. However, readers will also come to love the fictional characters in this novel that really drive the romance plot. James to me, in my view of fictional characters, is the dream guy- a British photographer who’s a romantic at heart. He’s a WWII vet and there’s a bit of a backstory with that along with his ex-wife, Marjorie, and his daughter whom he adores (Her name is Emily- so personally, that was awesome). Sophie was also a likable character and someone you can identify with; I just wish she would have been more courageous at making some business decisions. However, what I enjoyed most about her was that she always kept her father’s memory alive- it was sweet that whenever she was down, she always remembered his advice.
What makes this book believable is the focus is not on Grace Kelly. We are not getting the inside details of her voyage to Monaco or her wedding plans, rather we are hearing about it through the perspective of the main characters. This style of writing makes Grace’s presence very real. Because she only pops up in person about 4 times, the reader becomes just as excited to see her as James and Sophie do. Its really fun too because there are some passages that appear in letter or telegram style. There’s even a few magazine and newpaper sections written in the book, and that makes it really authentic.
SLIGHT SPOILER: The one problem I have with the novel is the 26 year time jump. There are so many questions that never get answered because of this, and it makes the ultimate ending feel short changed.
Meet me in Monaco was given a bunch of accolades this year with a reviewer calling it a “French bon-bon of a book”. I can’t say I argue and even if your not into “lite” historical fiction books, you can appreciate the Grace Kelly connection. It’s a very breezy read and just an overall cute book!
Click here to go to the Author’s website and learn more about the book!
Be sure to check out my co-hosts pages of Day 2 and Day 3 and check out Day 1 of the Grace Kelly Blogathon! I want to thank Ginnie for hosting and coming up with this marvelous event! I am always happy to be invited to co-host with you! To Samantha- It was so fun joining you this year for this event! I love being part of this with you two fabulous ladies and I say it every year, but I truly believe Grace Kelly would be flattered with all of the love!!
And to all my readers and fellow writers- Thanks again so much for participating. Without the audience there is no reason for me to write- you all keep me going!!!