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.
Based around the areas of Monaco, Cannes and Grasse in the South of France this delightful story is a romance story between a french perfumer called Sophie Duval and a British press photographer James Henderson.
Interwoven into the tale is the real life story of the meeting and subsequent marriage of American film star Grace Kelly and the Prince of Monaco, Prince Rainier III.
Beginning in 1955, whilst Grace Kelly is attending the Cannes Film Festival , she is being followed by the press and slips into Sopie’s perfume shop in Cannes in a hope to escape them. She introduces herself to Sophie and asks if there is somewhere she could hide until they are gone. Following her is our photographer James, who is looking for ‘that’ photograph that all the press are after and for him one that will hopefully impress his boss and save him his job.
Sophie is however successful in putting James ‘off the scent’ (pardon the pun!) but their meeting prompts an unmistakable spark, one that James later can not seem to shake off and so begins a captivating tale of romance and friendship that lasts for years to come.
I’m a sucker for books based in The South of France, so when I found out about the release of this new book I quickly pre-ordered a copy. I hadn’t read anything by these authors before and was intrigued by the fact that it is written jointly by two authors.
First of all not once did I notice, whilst reading the book, that this was the case. It would be interesting to learn of how they worked as it is seamless. The chapters are split into the voice of Sophie and that of James, so maybe one wrote one and the other, well the other! But I really couldn’t tell.
The atmosphere of the area shines through, though if there had been more mention of the setting that personally would have been a bonus. With Sophie travelling between her shop in Cannes and home and business in Grasse, coupled with following James and Grace as they move around Cannes and Monaco I found it an absorbing and delightful summer read. The decadence is added to by the inclusion of Sophie rich boyfriend Lucien, and that of course of Grace.
The best part for me though was how the authors mingled factual events into their fictional story. I love a book that makes me also pick up my phone to google photographs and information and this story most defiantly made me do just that. The mention of the meeting of Grace and Prince Rainier and the following of the paparazzi was very interesting and I wasn’t aware that the wedding was such a big event locally as well as internationally. I loved looking at the real photos that were spoken of within the book and I found the view point from the reporters, on their need to be able to have access to the star, very enlightening.
It is also a lovely tale of a romance trying to happen but where so many things seem destined to get in the way. A delightful summer read, that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Meet Me In Monaco is published by William Morrow and is available now.