Hello book lovers, welcome back! As usual, today’s #TalkTuesday interview is also our #TeaserTuesday and First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros! Enjoy!
The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher reads more like a biography than a fictional story. It delves into the life of Grace Kelly, an iconic actress of her time, who became a princess. Readers get a glimpse into her childhood dreams, her rise to fame, and her eventual royal life as Princess of Monaco.
Born into a wealthy family, Grace was encouraged to achieve success in the things that mattered to her parents: athletics and social status. Eventually, she followed the call to Hollywood and just as her star seemed to have risen, she walked away to marry a real-life prince. Her life was snuffed out in middle age, but readers are able to take a journey with her, filled with love affairs, fame, sacrifices and heartaches.
Once becoming a Princess, her independence was snatched away. It seems that Prince Rainier was arrogant, patronizing, without much passion, and a chauvinist. Book quotes show that she had to bite her lip and watch her words, “Does he listen to you when you want different things? Or “Grace felt exhausted from the effort of constantly trying to figure out which choice was less likely to anger Rainier.” Grace Kelly sacrificed by giving up any hope of ever living a life true to herself outside of her husband’s whim and demands.
The story is told, alternating between Grace’s years as an actress, and her years as Princess of Monaco. It is fascinating to read the numerous personal aspects of her life: marriage, Hollywood actress, relationships with friends, family, and her love, joys and desires.
Elise Cooper: Why Grace Kelly?
Kerri Maher: I grew up with my mom being a huge fan who loved her. I wanted to write about someone in the mid twentieth century and thought about her since she was a movie star, a princess, and very intriguing.
EC: Is there a lot of truths in this fictional account?
KM: The scene with Josephine Baker is true. After she and her twelve children lost their home in Dordogne she gave them a home near Monaco, a villa in Roquebrun, just up the hill from Larvotto. The wedding also happened as I wrote it. Also true is that her father and brother were Olympic rowers, she won an Academy Award that was not a Hitchcock film, and she almost got engaged to fashion designer Oleg Cassini. But regarding her thoughts and conversations, as a novelist I had to imagine what she thought, felt, and even had done because so much of her life was unrecorded.
EC: Was the death scene true to life?
KM: Having read a lot of reports it seems she was driving the car and had a stroke. But in writing that scene it was a fictional moment even though I tried to do justice with the facts. A number of newspaper articles said she did not die in the accident, but in the hospital after she had another stroke.
EC: What about the marriage?
KM: It was super complicated. They never separated or filed for divorce, but toward the end it seemed they were leading different lives. Both wanted the best for their children who were the glue that held them together. She prioritized people over ambition.
EC: Do you think she missed working in film?
KM: She did, but never found a way to balance her responsibilities as a princess, mother, and wife. For a lot of different reasons, it was impossible to work again as an actress.
EC: Was she good friends with Edith Head?
KM: Yes. She had a lifetime friendship with her. I read a letter she wrote to Edith after Caroline was born. She closed by saying, “You would not believe how big my bosoms have become with nursing.” I thought, of course she would have talked about her body with Edith Head, who had dressed her hourglass body for years.
EC: There are descriptions in the book about Rainier’s anger?
KM: A number of sources talked about his temper. I do not know what form it took. It seems she did not want to make him mad. Of course, she had some practice growing up by trying not to make her father angry either.
EC: What role did her parents play in the book?
KM: They were important secondary characters. For her, they were the model of what a married couple is like. Margaret, her mother, had a career of her own as head of athletics at the University of Pennsylvania. For the 1920s it was most unusual. Yet, Grace saw how her mother gave up her career to marry her father.
EC: Was she a good mother?
KM: Yes, she loved her children to pieces. She wanted to give her all to them. There was this inner tension because she wanted to go back to work, but couldn’t because of being a mother. She found it incredibly hard to raise children with the paparazzi hounding them. She really resented them. A true incident happened when Grace Kelly met Princess Diana and it was actually recorded what she said, “My dear it only gets worse.”
EC: What do you want readers to get out of your book?
KM: Grace Kelly was a flesh and blood woman with a heart that beat and bled just like ours. Though she was a movie star and a princess, she thought of herself as a daughter, wife, and mother first. Her whole life, she wanted nothing more than to be seen and loved for who she was, and what quest is more human and universal than that?
EC: Can you give a shout out about your next book?
KM: It will probably come out in the winter of 2022, titled The Paris Bookseller. Sylvia Beach was an American who opened a bookstore in Paris and called it “Shakespeare and Company,” where she published James Joyce’s controversial book, Ulysses. It became the home to the “Lost Generation” of writers including Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros
I’m also taking part in First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros
Every Tuesday Vicki @ I’d Rather Be at the Beach now hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where readers share the first paragraph of a book that they are reading or plan to read soon.
Looking forward to visiting your blogs and seeing what your Teaser Tuesday and First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, are this week!
Luv Sassy x
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