Luke Devenish's Reviews > Grace

Grace by Robert Lacey
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May 05, 12

Read from April 21 to May 05, 2012

Devouring this excellent biography was the perhaps inevitable result of a touring exhibition of Kelly's old frocks coming to my neck of the woods recently. Appetite more than whetted, and feeling far from overdosed on Grace glamour just yet, I was driven to discover the truth behind the chiffon, as it were. And I'm so glad I did. This was a startling, amusing and ultimately, highly moving read. It says everything about Grace Kelly (and Lacey's sympathetic portrait of her) that for all the gadding about with menfolk in her early years (including the Shah of Iran, for Allah's sake) she does NOT come across as tarty. That's a feat in itself really. I breathlessly read of Grace's every unsuitable love affair and only liked her more and more. Lacey's insightful summation of her Daddy issues provided all the explanation needed for that long, long line of dodgy older blokes. Grace's classiness really was Teflon coated. Nothing diminished it. This book had a number of revelatory moments for me, chief among them being the disclosure that the Grimaldi clan were moral and matrimonial train wrecks centuries before the current incumbents. I loved Aunt Tiny shagging her crim chauffeur and carting him along to the wedding, what's more, bold as brass, in an uncanny harbinger of Stephanie's later shenanigans. Ditto the subsequent jewel thefts during the prenuptial knees-up, that so bizarrely echoed the plot of To Catch a Thief. Rainier's mother was certainly a hard boiled hunk of hatred, as was Grace's own dear Ma, frankly. And how about mean brother Kell ending up in the arms of a kindly trannie? I didn't see that one coming. Indeed, tragically few of Grace's nearest and dearest come off well in her life story, her own children being absolutely no exception. Although written in 1994, Lacey's summation of the junior Grimaldis' profound lack of life achievement rings as true now as it did then, with the possible exception of Caroline. I was inspired by the loyalty Grace engendered on her many friends, however, particularly Cary Grant. The final chapters, dealing with the evolution Grace was just beginning to experience in her rather atrophied later life was profoundly moving, given that Fate so cruelly intervened. I thoroughly enjoyed this biography and its subject. Lacey is a fine writer.

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