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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Supreme Grace: Grace by Robert Lacey

To Catch A Prince
Beautiful Grace

Grace Kelly's excellent acting surprised Bing Crosby in The Country Girl. She won a well-deserved Oscar for the movie which surprised everybody else!

Determined and single-minded, Grace focused on an acting career from an early age. Inspired by her refined uncle, an actor and writer, she started to study acting in New York at 18 and continued to study throughout her career. It took her a year to practise her rather aristocratic accent. It could be argued (and Lacey does this) that becoming a princess was a natural progression from being a movie-star.

This book gives a good account of Grace's acting career but the story of her personal life is based on details given by family, friends and ex-boyfriends. I found it gossipy and took it with a grain of salt. Lacey was apparently given short shrift by people in Monaco.

It is hard to believe, for example, that Grace had affairs with practically every one of her co-stars, although they were pretty handsome! She wasn't a good Catholic in her personal life, according to Lacey. He's rather judgemental about Grace's affairs, accusing her of having no moral centre at one stage! She had romances with married men, according to Lacey, but they were mostly unhappily married and there is slim evidence that she was unfaithful to Prince Rainier so I thought that this was going a bit far. Her strong Catholic parents apparently treated many of her boyfriends very badly - even kicking them out of the house at times (!) - and Grace didn't stand up to them.

Whether she had these affairs or not Grace shone as a person. She worked extremely hard for charities and her adopted country, virtually making it into a popular Hollywood destination on her own. She was also a great patron of the arts.

Lacey claims that the marriage was unhappy and that Grace and Rainier were separated and both turned to others. Rainier was apparently very bad-tempered and Grace found living with him like 'walking on egg-shells'. (Probably we all have family members like this!) She was a strong Catholic and she mostly enjoyed being a princess so divorce wasn't in the picture, according to Lacey. They both made sure that they were discreet and scandal didn't arise. The children were apparently very spoiled and lacked their parent's wisdom and discretion so Grace had a difficult time as they got older.

I enjoyed this book very much but it's hard to tell how much of it is true. Lacey does show that Grace was a very likeable, conscientious person. I thought that that the most endearing part of the book and the image that remains with me is when Grace visited her dying father. She took a deep breath, waited a few minutes, and then put on a huge smile. Her father needed cheering up.

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