Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Meet Me in Monaco


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:     I mean, look at this photo. Do you absolutely swoon? Grace Kelly has got to be one of the most glamorous but mysterious women ever—




from her iconic roles with the likes of Cary Grant




















and Jimmy Stewart

















her terrifying “relationship” with Alfred Hitchcock





to her effortless fashion sense to her fairy-tale-seeming wedding to the Prince! Of Monaco



and then her children, and her tragic death—



It seems like the stuff of fiction, doesn’t it? And now, it is.  The wonderful Heather Webb (under the talented and confident hands of  Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor) bring  her to fabulous fictional life is their Meet Me In Monaco—a brand new book with non-stop buzz.

Where did this book come from?  Well, of course.  We have it for you first- hand.


Meet Me in Monaco: A Novel of Grace Kelly's Royal Wedding
Set in the 1950s against the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s whirlwind romance and unforgettable wedding to Prince Rainier, MEET ME IN MONACO is a novel about passion, fate, and second chances in an evocative sun-drenched journey along the Côte d’Azur. It's about legacy, about the challenge of artisans to stay afloat in an ever-modernizing world, and it's about taking chances. 

The story revolves around the intersecting lives of the future princess, a passionate French perfumer, and a loveable British press photographer. As a summer book it is deliberately full of 1950s glamour, and while there is romance at the heart of the story (there’s a wedding between a prince and a princess after all!), it is also about so much more.

We especially loved developing our protagonist, Sophie Duval, and her world as a struggling perfumer. Sophie was desperate to preserve her father’s legacy in Grasse, Provence - the perfume capital of the world- and she is tested by everyone she loves to see just how far she's willing to see her vision come to life.

 Capturing all the evocative scents on the page as she hones her craft was great fun to write from the fragrant tuberose and night jasmine, to the salty breezes wafting over the rocky soil of Provence. La Belle France is all about appealing to the senses, n'est-ce pas? It was the perfect backdrop for blooming love, both for Sophie and James, as well as for Grace and her prince.

We also wanted to delve into what influence a woman like Grace Kelly might have had on those who came into contact with her, however briefly. We wanted to understand the very ordinary people caught up in a most extraordinary love-affair between an American actress and a little-known Prince. 

We wanted to highlight the people who surrounded Grace in the months, weeks and days leading up to her wedding, and later, who were deeply affected by the untimely death of one the most loved stars of Hollywood’s golden era. We wanted to illustrate how Grace’s kindness, influence, and courage touched the lives of many around her. The question of legacy, in our book, takes on several meanings here, for all of our characters.

Our story began with the basics, however--lots of research. Research is everything for a historical novelist, and between books and articles, old newsreels and newspaper reports, we discovered a tantalizing detail about Miss Kelly’s wedding dress being packed for its journey from New York to Monaco amid rolls of tissue paper scented with a perfume that had been especially made for her wedding day. 

Again, our novelists’ minds saw an intriguing angle to the story. Who was the perfumer who made that scent? And who were the harried photographers chasing the perfect shot of the most famous woman in the world, and who caused near riots in the days leading up to the wedding?

This is where our fictional protagonists—Sophie Duval: a passionate perfumer, struggling to secure her father’s legacy, and James Henderson: a press photographer searching for far more than Hollywood glamour through his lens—were inspired by real people and roles that were connected to Grace and the royal wedding in surprising ways. 

Our novelists’ gaze also wandered behind the scenes of those famous images of Princess Grace on her wedding day. Who was the woman behind the Hollywood smile? What were her private thoughts behind the many public appearances?

In writing Meet Me in Monaco, we discovered that Grace Kelly was far more than an icon of the silver screen, or the Princess she became. She was also a dear friend, a devoted daughter, a loving wife and doting mother. 

Through the lens of Sophie and James and their proximity to Grace Kelly during her transition from Hollywood star to Princess Grace of Monaco, we hope to have honored her memory, and brought her story to a new generation of fans, as well as showing a different side of her to those of us who, like us, have long admired her.  

We are so thrilled to see Meet Me in Monaco resonating with our readers, and we celebrated when we discovered it was named one of InStyle's best books to put in your tote bag for the summer, as well as one of Popsugar’s best books of July!  We hope you'll enjoy your trip to the Cote d'Azur, over the rolling fields of Grasse, and the beautiful cliffs of Prince Grace's Monaco, too!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Sigh. Shall we talk about Grace Kelly? What’s your favorite movie? Or story about her?

And a copy of MEET ME IN MONACO to one lucky US commenter!



Hazel Gaynor is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of six historical novels including The Girl Who Came Home and, most recently, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter. She was the recipient of the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award, and shortlisted for the 2017 Irish Book Awards. She lives in Ireland with her husband and children.

Heather Webb is the internationally bestselling and award-winning author of six historical novels set in France, including Becoming Josephine and Rodin’s Lover, and the upcoming Ribbons of Scarlet, Oct 2019. She was the recipient of the WFWA 2018 STAR award. She lives in New England with her children and husband. 



Set in the 1950s against the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s whirlwind romance and unforgettable wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco, New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb take the reader on an evocative sun-drenched journey along the Côte d’Azur in this page-turning novel of passion, fate and second chances...

Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique to fend off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy.

James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love.


88 comments:

  1. I don't think I've ever seen any Grace Kelly movies, but her life does sound fascinating. And I love the idea of using some people behind the scenes to tell her story. Congrats on the book. It sounds fabulous!

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    1. Marla— you haven’t?? Oh, you are in for such a treat! Run out right now and see Rear Window, and then High Society and then To Catch A Thief. Lucky you!

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    2. Rear Window has been on my list to watch forever! I saw a remake but not the original.

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    3. Thanks so much, Marla, and i agree with the others! You're in for a real treat! I enjoy the tongue-in-cheek lines in TO CATCH A THIEF!

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  2. Congratulations on your new book, Heather and Hazel . . . I’m really looking forward to reading it.

    Favorite Grace Kelly movie? I don’t think it’s possible to pick just one . . . it’s a toss-up between “Rear Window,” “Dial M for Murder,” and “High Noon” . . . .

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    1. I haven't seen High Noon! I just remedy this ASAP. And thank you so much. We hope you enjoy the book. 💕

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  3. I may be on vacation, but I can still reserve a book, Just did... because Oh, my dears. I was 4 when the 1950's started and 14 when they ended.. and Grace Kelly was the woman that convinced me I was a lesbian.. Totally smitten, and still am a bit...even with the smoking..Thank you for bringing back a lovely gentle human very human icon.

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    1. She was so talented, wasn’t she?

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    2. Oh, what a lovely comment, Coralee. Thanks so much. We hope the books whisks you away!

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  4. Sounds like a great way to get into that world and story.

    I think Dial M for Murder might be my favorite Grace Kelly movie. Only seen a handful, I must admit.

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    1. And they really hold up… They are so iconic. And she was not just another pretty face, right? Such a good actor.

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    2. I agree. Most of them really hold up! I find the humor in High Society a little harder to get into but it's still so charming.

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  5. I've been looking forward to reading this book ever since I first heard about it! I simply cannot choose one favorite Grace Kelly movie - impossible. From what we know, or think we "know" her real life was more interesting than her movies.
    Love the idea of fictional characters carrying on (in a good way) around the real story. And perfume! Yay!

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  6. Big Congratulations Heather and Hazel, I can’t wait to read the book. I love historical fiction and am pretty certain that I got my A+ grade in history on my school certificate due to my teen devouring of the novels of Jean Plaidy, Margaret Campbell Barnes et al. I remember THE wedding so clearly. All the gorgeous photos in the glossies. Thinking about that was this the wedding which started the paparazzi scramble for photos? Being a film star certainly put Grace in the spotlight. Fav movie, and still is one of the top ten - High Society - her clothes, her attitude, the setting, sailing, jazz and a stellar cast. I’m a romantic.

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    1. Oh, what an interesting question! I bet Hazel and Heather know…

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    2. Celia, it absolutely was--you're correct. Her wedding was what began the whole concept of the frenzied press. In fact, a fight broke out on more than one occasion as they wrestled to get near the royal couple. We touch upon this very idea in the book as James, one of our main characters, is a British press photographer and he, like the others, becomes quite frustrated. I hope you enjoy revisiting the wedding through the pages!

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  7. Oh, I also want to add a link I found - https://aurorasginjoint.com/2012/07/15/high-society-in-the-philadelphia-story/ . It’s a fascinating comparison of High Society and The Philadelphia Story.

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    1. Thank you for this!!! We're heading to Philly next week!

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  8. I'm always impressed by people who can take a real figure and use them in fiction. Did you get to read any of her letters or anything?

    I loved "To Catch a Thief."

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    1. Exactly! It seems like such a scary proposition…

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  9. Welcome Heather. And what an interesting subject. I remember being fascinated with Grace Kelly when I was a young girl and so saddened at her early demise. I look forward to your book.

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    1. When I was looking up pictures of her, she is just constantly gorgeous! There was one article that said she was famously finicky about the photos that were taken…

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    2. Thank you, Ann! Her death was so tragic. Such talent, generosity of spirit, and beauty, gone for no good reason. But she left the gift her films behind at least!
      Hope you enjoy the book!

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  10. This sounds terrific! What fun. I just put it on my list. I was a child when Kelly was making her movies, but have seen and loved many of them since. And of course her wedding was big news even to kids. I remember it well. Can't wait to read this one

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    1. It’s really strange how the memories are so fresh, aren’t they?

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    2. Thanks so much, Triss! Some people just stay with us, don't they?

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  11. What a great idea! Will James and Sophie go on to tell more tales? I can see a twist on Night of the Iguana (Richard Burton, Ava Gardner), or... Plus I'm completely fascinated by Hitchcock. Is he a character?

    My favorite Grace Kelly movie: Rear Window, of course.
    And in the 70s I remember driving the circuitous mountain road from Nice to Monaco and wondering where exactly that car had gone off the road. That's one scary drive.

    And oh, also, please tell us about your collaboration? HOW do you do it??

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    1. That curvy road, almost exactly where To Catch a Thief was filmed, was where Grace's car went over the cliff! Chilling irony.

      As for collaboration, we use Google Docs and we chat once a week via Skype to hash out plot and character issues. We do a lot of brainstorming and pantsing together, but a fair amount of plotting as well. There's a lot of give and take, and communication. Sometimes we swear we have the same brain!

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  12. High Society, To Catch a Thief, Dial M for Murder, all full of glamor and elegance, but most unlikely role of all...The Country Girl, Grace Kelly definitely played against type in this role. Daughter of Philadelphia elite, this city seemed to keep reappearing in her life in one form or another. I look forward to reading this book, seeing a new perspective, albeit in novel form, of a very iconic woman.

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  13. Congratulations on this captivating historical! I love Grace Kelly movies. Rear Window is my favorite. She lit up the screen and was one of a kind.

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  14. Grace Kelly was glamour. Growing up during the 1950's I enjoyed watching the movies. This book would be a fascinating historical of an era which is my favorite of all.

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    1. It's an intriguing era! We made sure to keep glamour front row and center in the book! Hope you enjoy!

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  15. And I’d love to know more about how you insert fictional people into real life… That’s got to be a tightrope!

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    1. It sure can be. We went round and round about how to keep Grace on the page in an authentic way. We ended up creating a fictional fashion journalist who reported on all things wedding to bring in lots of juicy details

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  16. Will I sound shallow if I say just the cover alone makes me want to dive into the book? It could be a poster for an upcoming Grace Kelly film (from 1950-something, of course.)

    I'm curious as to how Hazel, who's British and lives in Ireland, started working with Heather, who's a New Englander. Did they meet at a conference? Have an editor in common? Were they on a madcap adventure while making the Atlantic crossing? (Okay, that last is unlikely, but wouldn't it be great for two bestselling historical novelists?)

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    1. I'm such a cover person, too. If the image doesnt draw me in, it's a lot less likely that I'll pick up the book. Sad but true!

      And I like your version of the truth--a madcap adventure! (We have the same agent.)

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  17. Grace Kelly was the perfect foil for the elegant Cary Grant.... They both played Society figures effortlessly, yet neither actually came from that world. Favorite? I think To Catch a Thief, but Philadelphia Story is soooo close..... looking forward to this new book!

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    1. Really? I thought Grace Kelly came from an influential and wealthy Philadelphia family. Always considered her a socialite.

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    2. High society, you mean! Katherine Hepburn in Philadelphia story… Xxx both incredible!

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    3. To my best recollection, it was Grace Kelly's uncle, an established playwright, who encouraged her goal to become an actress. I think her wealthy father did not approve?

      Diana

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  18. Grace Kelly was truly the epitome of, well, grace. I have seen almost all of her movies, and my favorites are Rear Window (swoon over all of her outfits) and High Society (swoon again!).

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    1. That little cosmetic bag, right? I have always lusted after that :-)

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  19. Only one movie? Nope, not possible. Dial M for Murder and Rear Window seem to be the most intense of the ones I've seen but I haven't seen them all. I enjoyed High Society, music is always good for me.

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  20. Happy book birthday, Hazel and Heather! I really want to read Meet Me in Monaco. Is the publisher Harper Collins?

    Grace Kelly was the epitome of elegance. She was born the same year as Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, Anne Frank, and Audrey Hepburn. I cannot pick a favorite film. I loved all of her films.

    When Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, I thought of Princess Grace, who was the American actress Grace Kelly.

    Meghan was an American actress before she married Prince Harry of England.

    Hope I get a chance to read your novel soon!

    Diana

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  21. Hi Hazel and Heather! It's been years (decades, actually) since I've seen a Grace Kelly film, but you've inspired me to hunt up a few. But first I want to read your book! Love the whole premise, the cover is stunning, and I hope there are lots of details about perfume, which fascinates me.

    I also want to know how the two of you came up with the project, and how you collaborate?

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  22. I'm swooning just reading about this book! I have loved Grace Kelly forever and ever. Can't pic a favorite movie but when I was a page at my public library as a teenager, hours were spent looking at pictures of her in old magazines. I can't wait to read this book! Congratulations! Is this the first book you've written together? Will there be more?

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  23. My favorite Grace Kelly film is her last, High Society with costars Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. So of course it's a musical, and also a remake of one of my all time favorite films, The Philadelphia Story.

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  24. She was such a lovely lady. I can understand why so many of her male co-stars fell in love with her. Favorite movie? I don't know. Rear Window was fun. To Catch a Thief even more so. The Bridges at Toko-Ri absolutely gutted me. I'll never watch that again. But it was good. It is so interesting how she made the transition from daughter of a working man who became wealthy to actress to princess. And I love how she always brought her royal children to the U.S. to visit their non-royal family. She was one of a kind.

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    1. Ohh, I forgot about that--I could not possibly watch that. WAY too sad.

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  25. Definitely, my fav is Rear Window

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  26. Grace Kelley was the epitome of beauty and grace. I would really love to read more about herin "Meet In Me Monaco".
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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  27. I think I'd have to go with Rear Window. High Society is a close second, but overall I think the non-musical original, Philadelphia Story with Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart, was better—mainly because Cary and Jimmy were better actors than Bing and Frank.

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  28. What a wonderful book. Grace Kelly was glamorous, exotic, and very human from all accounts. I'll be glad to get to know her a little better in your book. My favorite movie - hard to say - High Society and High Noon would top my list.

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  29. Oh, Grace Kelly! She is the very definition of beauty and grace and romance. A cool presence under the hot intensity of the world's attention. There seemed to be no cracks in her, but, of course, I do wonder what her private thoughts and feelings were. Being on a pedestal isn't always an enviable place to be. I remember when she died so young, just 52. I think my favorite Grace Kelly movie is Rear Window, with it being a mystery.

    I think it's wonderful that Meet Me in Monaco is reviving the story of this elegant woman. The story of the perfumer and the scent that was developed for Grace is fascinating. I think that there will be lots of interest in this book.

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  30. Oh yes, I love Grace Kelly. Her movie roles, both light and those more dramatic and dark, as well as her Princess life and the occasional glimpse into the real person. I can watch Dial M for Murder as if it's on a loop. It is fascinating to see as the movie becomes darker and she is charged with murder her look becomes more and more plain and drab.

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    1. Oh, I never thought of that-a good reason to watch again!

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    2. The way she holds herself, the way she speaks, her clothes, her hair, everything is different. I think I must have watched it many times before I really took note but it's there.

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  31. Iconic Grace Kelly.
    Are there any women (or men, for that matter) who ascend to the rarefied air she frequented: notoriety coupled with grace (pun or not), and style, not gimmickry.

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  32. Sounds like a great book. I'm going to see if I can purchase it for my Kindle. I've loved all of Grace Kelly's movies, but it I have to pick a favorite it would be "To Catch a Thief."

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  33. What a wonderful concept! Looking forward to reading the book. My favorite Grace Kelly film is To Catch a Thief!

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  34. I too adore "Rear Window" and "To Catch a Thief," (her costumes in the latter were gorgeous--especially the striking black-and-white 'cover-up' and hat she wears while waiting for Cary Grant in the hotel lobby before their swim) but I see no one's mentioned her Oscar-winning role as the drab "The Country Girl" with Bing Crosby and dishy William Holden. Grace shocked everyone when she beat out Judy Garland in "A Star is Born" in 1954. (Groucho Marx even sent Judy a telegram saying "This is the biggest robbery since Brinks.") She was also quite good in the romantic, yet sad, 'The Swan' with Louis Jourdan and Alec Guinness.

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    1. Oh, brilliant choices! Yes, And so fascinating, because the ones she was acclaimed for our not the ones we remember instantly, right? What a difficult life…

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  35. I would really love to win a copy of your novel. I have almost 1k followers on Instagram. To Catch a Thief is among my favorite films.

    Thank you, Diana . aka wonderwomandbookish

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  36. I did see most of the movies mentioned and probably like High Society best. I read a book about the wedding and all her bridesmaids, I think written by one of them. Princess Grace was lucky they didn't have the Internet then. All those headlines about Meghan Markle are ridiculous!

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    1. How terrifying to be under scrutiny every moment of every day…

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  37. Oh my goodness! How to choose?! All her movies were wonderful. I love her costumes in Rear Window, so I think that's my choice, but there were so many great roles to choose from. High Noon is a favorite, as is To Catch A Thief. I've heard the story about her wedding dress before. It was spectacular!

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  38. Rear Window is my absolute favorite Grace Kelly film. She and James Stewart were absolutely perfect in their roles. Such chemistry!

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  39. High Society is my favorite Grace Kelly movie. I love musicals. Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy Onassis were two of the regal ladies of the United States. We are truly blessed to be able to go back and watch her movies.

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  40. I love Grace Kelly movies and this book sounds great! I think it's a toss up between Rear Window and to Catch a Thief, but I also like High Society, Dial M for Murdery, High Noon and The Swan.....so many to choose from!

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  41. I love Grace Kelly, always have. My favorite movie of her would have to be To Catch a Thief. I never tire of it.

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