Iv’e really been enjoying historical fiction this year. It’s always been a genre favourite of mine but I’d been having a hard time finding ones that I connected to. I don’t always like a first person narrative and that can be a challenge to work around in historical fiction.
But this year quite a number of them have clicked. Last year I read and loved The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher (it led me to read the biography Kick which remains a favourite) and recently I followed that up with The Girl in White Gloves also by Kerry Maher.
Years ago, as part of my ongoing Read About Royal Women project, I read a biography of Princess Grace by Donald Spoto. It was so boring I assumed I didn’t need to ever read about her again. She just seemed like a beautiful woman who always did everything right and people adored her and then she died.
Well, that is not the story told in The Girl in White Gloves and I know it’s fiction but there has to be some kernel of truth in this story. This book starts with Grace Kelly at acting school and moves forward through her career, how she dreamed of being on Broadway and “settled” for being in the movies, her relationships with the men she worked with, the way she butted heads with her parents, and finally to her relationship with Prince Rainier. And then the book checks in with her at different points in her marriage: before her 40th birthday when Rainier asks what kind of party she wants and she knows she should just tell him what he wants to hear to avoid the fight, when she’s back home in Philadelphia before the death of her father, in Paris with her two daughters worried about Stephanie and the choices she’s making where men are concerned, a moment she shares with a young Lady Diana, before her wedding where Princess Grace tells her to call her anytime she’s having a hard time.
Maher is extremely skilled at bringing these women to life and showing that there is more to them than how they are viewed by history. I had an idea of Princess Grace and this book kind of smashed that and I’m really glad! Maybe I picked the wrong biography of her all those years ago, one that was sanctioned, that white washed the details of a more interesting life.
I also really enjoyed the googling that came with this read. I spent a lot of time looking at pictures of Grace Kelly, her gigantous engagement ring, her wedding gown, her civil ceremony outfit, her dresses in High Society (I was reminded that that’s her actual engagement ring she wears as Tracy Lord) etc etc.
Kerri Maher is two for two for me and I am anxiously waiting for whatever her next book is.
Have you ever read something that changed how you felt about someone/thing?