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Princess Grace Hardcover – 26 Apr 1984
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Princess Grace had an extraordinary life - at 26, she was at the pinnacle of a Hollywood career that had only been launched a few years earlier, when she abruptly decided to marry Prince Rainier and move to a small insulated foreign country where she didn't speak the language or enjoy the climate, and she wasn't free to build independent friendships or pursue personal interests. Yet she stayed there for another 26 years - exactly half her life - raising three children in the cocoon of a royal palace. The contrast between descriptions of her childhood - going for a soda after school, scribbling her name in wet cement on the sidewalk - and her children's upbringing, hounded by paparazzi, is quite sad and makes me wonder if she ever questioned her choices. Yet Bradford also describes the politics of the Kelly family, clarifying Grace's decision to marry one of the few men who could overshadow her larger-than-life father. Only Grace could say (and she never did) whether she made the right decision.
My conclusion upon reading this book was that Grace Kelly was a beautiful woman who achieved some brilliant work within a narrow parameter of acting talent, but she was still driven by a need to "show" people she was special. With a dismissive father, and a string of married lovers in her past, what better way to show the world she was special than to transform herself into a princess?
There are certain details missing from this biography... as a young woman, Grace had a wild passionate side that seemed to magically disappear once she married. Later biographers tell salacious stories about what Grace got up to, even on board the wedding ship to Monaco, but they are a little over the top to be believable). Bradford tells a more convincing, less titillating story about a woman who stayed true to her choice, even if she was struggling against frustration under the surface. The misguided impulsive decision to return to Hollywood temporarily as Marnie, shows that she was torn between her old life and her "princess" life. When that attempt failed, she never actively tried to go back again... No biographer can ever tell us what Princess Grace thought about in the middle of the night.
Other biographies of Grace rely heavily on Bradford's story although they fill in the blanks with spicier details. For a clear convincing portrait of Hollywood's princess, this is the book for you. If you want to read speculative anecdotes about Princess Grace's sex life, try any other biography.
Who was Princess Grace? Despite her extremely public life as actress and princess, wife and mother, she remained an unusually private person. Sarah Bradford, author of two highly praised biographies, has traveled thousands of miles to interview her family and friends, the people who worked with her from Hollywood to Monaco, to compile the first full-length insight into the remarkable woman whom the world knew simply as "Princess Grace."
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