Are you a fan of old Hollywood? This post featuring the best books about Grace Kelly, plus her Philly home and classic style, is just for you.
It seems like 2020 was the year of Grace Kelly, as two historical fiction novels about her came out in early 2020 and the Philadelphia Flower Show of 2020 featured a replica of her wedding dress.
Since I also have a *very small* connection to Grace Kelly / Princess Grace of Monaco (read on for more about my connection), I thought this was to perfect time to talk about all things Grace Kelly: her biography, her childhood home in the East Falls section of Philadelphia, my favorite fictional books about her and, last but not least, her iconic style, including her timeless wedding dress, classic Hollywood evening gowns, casual wear and more inspiration.
Quick Biography of Grace Kelly / Princess Grace of Monaco
Grace Kelly was born on November 12, 1929, and grew up in the East Falls section of Philadelphia, about two miles from where I live. Her father, John B. Kelly, Sr. won three Olympic gold medals for sculling and owned a successful brickwork contracting company that was popular on the East Coast.
To her parents' dismay, she studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York rose to stardom thereafter. She won an Academy Award for The Country Girl. Other popular films in her short acting career include To Catch a Thief and High Society.
After a yearlong courtship, Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly married in 1956, and she became Princess Grace of Monaco. The couple had three children: Princess Caroline, Prince Albert and Princess Stephanie.
On September 13, 1982, Princess Grace was driving to Monaco from her country home when she had a stroke and lost control of her vehicle. Her daughter Stephanie, a passenger, attempted to regain control but failed, and they drove off a steep, winding road, down a 120-foot mountainside. Princess Stephanie sustained injuries and Princess Grace died the following night at age 52.
I would like to be remembered as someone who accomplished useful deeds, and who was a kind and loving person.Grace Kelly
Books About Grace Kelly
If you are doing the Around the World Reading Challenge, you can add these books to your PDF tracker for Monaco.
Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb
Best for fans of historical fiction
Named one of InStyle's and PopSugar's best books to put in your tote bag for the summer!
Meet Me in Monaco is historical fiction about Grace Kelly, but it is also one of the best books about weddings and so much more. As Hollywood elites and paparazzi flock to Cannes, starlet Grace Kelly takes shelter from British photographer, James Henderson, in Sophie Duval's struggling perfume shop. This meeting forms a bond between Sophie and Grace, as well as Sophie and James, spanning thirty years.
The lives of all three continue to intertwine as Grace meets, becomes engaged to and eventually marries Prince Rainier of Monaco, becoming Princess Grace of Monaco.
Grace Kelly is a constant character in Meet Me in Monaco, but the heart of the story is the "Will they or won't they?" relationship between James and Sophie. For this reason, any and all fictional portions of Grace Kelly's storyline are inconsequential to the reader, and the story never feels far from "the truth."
Meet Me in Monaco is a glamorous escape read and one of the best books for Spring, with an extra bit of heart and hope amidst thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy. It made me add Monaco to my literary bucket list. I was pleasantly surprised by this being one of the best books about Grace Kelly, and I really enjoyed it, including a few unexpected twists!
The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz
Best for fans of modern heartwarming stories
Three women, one dress, inspired by one princess - Grace Kelly. The Grace Kelly Dress is one of the best beach reads and it was an addictive page-turner, and I am pretty sure it's going to be my new recommendation for ladies looking for a lighter read that still has some heart and keeps you really engaged.
Each woman had an interesting story tied to the dress. First, there's the seamstress. Two years after Grace Kelly's wedding, she is entrusted with creating a replica dress for a wealthy bride-to-be. Throughout the process, she begins to secretly fall for the bride's brother.
Then there's Raquel a/k/a "Rocky" a modern, non-traditional bride who has inherited the dress of her mother, Joan, the third main character in this book. Rocky is stuck between not wanting to wear the dress and not wanting to break her mother's heart.
The lives of these three women come together as the reader learns of both the love and heartbreak held within the history of the dress as Rocky's wedding approaches. Each of the peripheral female characters in the story also has unique lives and choices that all make for a family that is real. At the end of the day, The Grace Kelly Dress is about celebrating both individuality and tradition, and I couldn't recommend it more highly. It's one I am always gifting and recommending to others!
For more, read my full review of The Grace Kelly Dress.
The Girl in White Gloves by Keri Maher
Best for fans of fictionalized biographies
A Library Reads Pick and Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choice!
The Girl in White Gloves is a fictionalized story of Grace Kelly's life. It delves deep beyond the beautiful face and dazzling wardrobe into a life of which many of us are unfamiliar.
Behind the "veil" so to speak, the reader learns of Grace's acting studies and budding career, her boyfriends, family struggles, her courtship with Prince Ranier III of Monaco and some of the constraints of being Princess in a foreign country. I think many will find this fascinating.
Overall, I thought the author did a good job of presenting the narrative. It's more of an overview of the main points than a deep dive, and I think the reader should know that going in. At times I couldn't stop reading this book.
I recommend The Girl in White Gloves to anyone looking for an old Hollywood read, a royalty read and/or anyone who wants to learn more about this American Princess from a book that reads like fiction and not a biography.
Grace Kelly's Childhood Home in East Falls, Philadelphia
Fun facts: Grace Kelly's great-nephew is one of my husband's closest friends. For those reasons, we know some of the family and occasionally spend time at the house where she grew up, which was recently restored by her son, Prince Albert, under the guidance of my husband's close friend and A LOT of work by the family members.
Below are a few of my personal pictures of Grace Kelly's childhood home. I am not including indoor pictures out of respect to the family, but I am also including below a video of the restored home that was featured on The Today Show. If you are traveling to Philadelphia, put this on your literary bucket list!
Grace Kelly Iconic 1950s Style & Fashion Inspiration
Grace Kelly's Wedding Dress
Grace Kelly's iconic and timeless wedding dress for her April 19, 1956 wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco was designed by Helen Rose on MGM, with which Grace Kelly had a multi-movie contract.
The dress consisted of a bodice with an attached under-bodice and skirt support. There were also two petticoats! Her full wedding attire included a headdress, veil, shoes and the lace and pearl-encrusted prayer book that she carried down the aisle with a small bouquet of lily of the valley flowers (the same flower I carried for my wedding!).
It had a high neck, long-sleeve gown, fitted torso, and a billowing skirt. The dress materials included twenty-five yards of silk taffeta, one hundred yards of silk net, peau de soie, tulle and 125-year-old Brussels rose point lace.
Below are photographs of a replica of Grace Kelly's wedding dress, which was on display at the 2020 Philadelphia Flower Show. It's a stunner!:
Grace Kelly Fashion Inspiration
Scroll through my Pinterest board below for more fashion inspiration from Grace Kelly herself:
I hope this comprehensive post of the best books about Grace Kelly plus her autobiography, childhood home in the East Falls section of Philadelphia and iconic style both enlightened and inspired you.
If you liked this post, you may also be interested in my Jackie O books + style guide.