I enjoy many of Grace Kelly’s films. However, I’ve always had a hard time connecting with her onscreen. The epitome of a Hitchcock blond, she always seemed serene, calm and distant both onscreen and off. Even while appreciating her films, I was never able to name her as one of my favorite actresses.
“Grace always had an air of mystery about her.” Frances Fuller, American Acadamy of Dramatic Arts chairperson (pg 18)
One of the things I love about biographies and books written about celebrities is learning more about the individual behind the celebrity. So when I recently won a giveaway hosted by AnnMarie at Classic Movie Hub for a new book about Grace, I was delighted. Living with Grace -Life Lessons from America’s Princess is written by Mary Mallory. Having read one other of Mallory’s celebrity books I knew I was in for a treat. When the book arrived in all of its’ small, bright pink glory, I couldn’t wait to get started.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Though this isn’t a pocket sized book, it is just small enough to be easily read one-handed. The title font and background color clearly mark it as geared toward a female audience. At just under 200 pages it is a quick read for those who don’t want to invest in long segments of nitty gritty details.
Mallory divides her book into ten chapters, each titled with a valuable lesson exemplified by Grace Kelly’s lifestyle. Among those are titles such as Seek Your Passion, Take Risks, Act Naturally and of course Dress to Impress. Mallory than breaks down how Grace put these into action in her own life.
This is supported by photos of Grace along with many personal reminisces from Grace herself. Also included are quotes about the actress from magazines as well as people who worked with Grace or knew her personally. Names such as co-stars Cary Grant, William Holden, James Stewart, Gary Cooper and Stewart Granger, past boyfriends including Oleg Cassini and her roommate Rita Gam are all quoted.
These quotes provide a deeper insight into Grace’s character and help support her own view of herself and how she attained success. Many of these quotes are set apart separately from the text so they stand out while reading through the chapters.
If you are looking for a more biographical study of Grace Kelly, this is not it. But I loved how Mallory took the facts and and opinions of Grace’s life and presented them from a new perspective. In doing so, she helped personalize and bring Grace to life in a way that I don’t think has been done before. Because of this I learned to respect and admire Grace Kelly in a way I had not before.
She is inspiring not as a Princess, Oscar winner, or glamorous movie star, but as a smart, independent career woman who achieved enormous success pursuing her own vision. (pg x)
There were many things I was surprised to learn about the blonde beauty. I had no idea how shy she was. This could have been a hindrance to her, but she worked hard to overcome her flaws and fears and not just shyness. I had no idea how driven, dedicated and disciplined Grace was in pursuit of her career.
Contrary to her family’s expectations she single mindedly pursued acting, making sacrifices, paying her dues, being patient and acting strategically. Grace worked hard to gain valuable experience and to forge important connections, never acting entitled or expecting favors. She crafted her image and career with precision. She knew what she wanted and went after it without compromising.
” Grace had a general’s sense of timing, knew when to strike and when to retreat, and always devised superb strategies.” Rita Gam (pg 29)
I was also pleasantly surprised to learn how well respected Grace was among her peers. Among those who knew her she was often described as warm, witty and good natured. The reserve and shyness that was seen by the public, hid her true nature that she shared with those she trusted.
Her genuine concern for people was a shining example of how she nurtured and maintained long friendships. (pg 15)
Grace was also interested in the world around her, constantly open to learning more. I was unaware that she hired someone to tutor her in the appreciation of fine art. She was also a lover of classical music. It also surprised me to learn that she was a practicing Catholic, a fact which somehow has escaped my notice before now.
“I am incapable of being bored because I remain active, enthusiastic, and curious about life.” Grace Kelly (pg 45)
Of course there are many other things this book shares about Grace Kelly that I enjoyed learning. I found this book to be a wonderful tribute to an actress whose hard work to become not only a better actress but a better person is often overlooked in favor of more glamorous aspects of her life. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read it. I’ve come away with a whole new appreciation of Grace Kelly the person. Her commitment to the lessons she learned and practiced is inspiring and something we can all learn from. This book will give you a good start on how to do that.
She possessed the courage to confront impediments and stretch beyond her comfort zone to mature as both and actress and a person. (pg 52)
This has been my contribution to The 4th Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon, hosted by Virginie of The Wonderful World of Cinema and Emily of The Flapper Dame. Please stop by both blogs to read other entries celebrating Grace Kelly.