GRACE by Robert Lacey


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A highly readable and workmanlike history of Grace Kelly -- still one of the saddest stories ever told. Regrettably, Lacey overanalyzes, dumbing down a well-researched effort. Even in her MonÉgasque tomb, Princess Grace, the former Gracie Kelly of East Falls, Pa., receives as many as 9,000 visitors a day. Lacey (Little Man, 1991, etc.) paces through her life, step by step, explaining why Grace did this and why Grace did that, and what it all meant. Terms like ""inner child,"" ""enabler,"" and ""empowering"" bring her biography into the '90s, as does Lacey's insistence on allowing a more honest portrait of Grace to emerge from the ruin of illusion. The animus of Grace's life appears to have been her handsome, authoritarian father, Jack Kelly, champion oarsman and head of Kelly for Brickwork. Grace had a series of affairs with older men, including Clark Gable, Oleg Cassini, William Holden, and Philippe of the Waldorf. Much is made of the fire-and-ice duality of Grace's character: docile in a Junior League cashmere coat and then dancing naked to Russian music in front of her lover. There are spicy anecdotes and good Hollywood gossip. Grace makes it to the top, but once she boards the U.S.S. Constitution for Monaco, her life's a downhill proposition. Apparently her dysfunctional family couldn't hold a candle to Rainier's. The prince's mother arrived at the royal wedding with her newest protÉgÉ, a paroled jewel thief, and decided immediately to despise Grace. Rainier was mean and moody; her children were mean and spoiled. ""Grace had become everybody's doormat,"" says Lacey. He publishes new information from interviews with her ""toy boys,"" the lovers she had in middle age, and Rogev Bencze, who investigated the fatal car crash. In the end little of the biography is as eloquent as the cover portrait. But Lacey creates a powerfully engaging woman, then mercilessly, he shows us how Grace did not live happily ever after. And if she couldn't do it, what chance do the rest of us have?

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1994
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Putnam