Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb brings Grace Kelly back to life. Readers will take a journey to the Cannes Film Festival in 1955 as the authors intertwine the romance between the actress Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco and their characters Sophie Duval and James Henderson. These two authors, “Team H,” have a chemistry when writing together. They have a knack for creating an enchanting story written in one voice.
The authors noted, “We had such fun writing Last Christmas in Paris together, and wanted our second co-written book to be a real contrast to the setting of war. We started to think about a summer book, full of fun and glamour, and the south of France and Grace Kelly soon followed! Meet Me in Monaco starts at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955, the year Grace met her prince—and when our parfumeur, Sophie Duval, meets press photographer James Henderson, sparks begin to fly. We have both admired her and have been fans of her movies, and after spending so much time with her during our research for the book, we are now bigger fans than ever!”
The plot opens with Grace Kelly ducking into a small perfume shop, owned by Sophie Duval, to escape a tabloid photographer, James Henderson. Sophie gives Grace Kelly a sanctuary from the paparazzi and sends James on his way. Very grateful Kelly forms a bond with Sophie and helps her failing business by publicizing that Sophie will be the “parfumeur” for the wedding to Prince Rainier. Meanwhile, James is given the coveted assignment to cover the wedding of the century, and sail with Grace Kelly’s wedding party to Monaco. Before sailing to Monaco he sends a letter to Sophia requesting a date. With the backdrop of the wedding Sophie and James have a whirlwind romance that has stretches of friendship, love, and tragedy.
There are comparisons between the two female leads. “We wanted to write a story with parallels both in the risks they chose to take in their lives and also in the way they used their talents to add a measure of beauty to the world. They went after what they wanted in a determined and dedicated way. We don’t go much into Grace’s life outside of the short stint of 1955-56, but all of the research pointed to these qualities in our princess.”
The romances stand out even more with the news clips fabricated by the authors. They transport the readers back in time to the 1950s and add authenticity and realism to the story. Also, bringing believability is the narrative where Grace interacts with James and Sophie are expertly woven into this cleverly layered fairy talelike plot. Sophie’s character is smart, confident and independent, while James is an enigma, surprisingly sensitive at times and aloof at others.
The novel is full of life lessons, difficult choices, and historical facts. Readers might even enjoy having their interest spurred and will find old pictures and footage. With a fabulous setting, interesting characters, and a story of second chances people root for all the characters to have their wishes come true.