High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly by Donald Spoto, 303 pages
As an actress and a princess, Grace Kelly was the picture of poise, beauty, and, fittingly, grace. In this life-spanning biography, Spoto uses his close relationship with the late princess to give a more intimate look at her childhood, career, and life as princess of Monaco. In doing so, he offers up some wonderful stories about the working relationship between Grace and Alfred Hitchcock, with whom she made three movies and nearly made a fourth (Marnie, which would have marked her first film role after leaving Hollywood to marry Prince Rainier; the role went to Tippi Hedren instead). My favorite story in this biography, however, involves a running joke between Grace and Sir Alec Guinness; like many of the others, it shows off the magnificent sense of humor in an actress who was often seen as aloof.
I'll admit that I didn't know a lot about Grace Kelly before reading this book (basically that she was an actress and then a princess who died in a car crash) and I think I've only seen one of her movies (the fantastic Rear Window), but that didn't matter. Spoto created an approachable and insightful book that serves as a good introduction without patronizing novices like me. If anything, his obvious love of Grace Kelly comes through a bit too much, smoothing over troublesome situations a bit more than someone more objective might have. All in all though, this was a good book. Recommended for those with a love of old Hollywood and/or European royalty.