Donald Spoto brings Grace Kelly back to life in this touching if ultimately brief biography.
What makes this particular biography so fascinating is the way in which Spoto was able to balance his friendship with Grace Kelly with being a biographer and the ability to tell the truth about her life.
If you have ever seen a Grace Kelly film, her elegance and gracefulness comes across in her film career – even if occasionally she comes across as too perfect and that in turn can give the impression that she was a cold person.
It is this assumption that Spoto attempts to change, filled with plenty of quotes from her many friends inside and outside of Hollywood – a place that she would come to resent over time.
Like many of Spoto’s biographies, he gets behind the opinions of audiences and what they see on screen or stage and makes his subjects more human and accessible – rather than focusing on all of the hype. He gets into their minds and how they were really feeling about certain things happening in their lives by making sure that it is their voice coming through consistently and keeping his in the background almost.
This is something that is particularly successful in this charming if almost too brief biography of Grace Kelly that makes clear her parents dismissiveness and disapproval of the way in which she chose to live her life – denying her support and affection, showing a side to her that perhaps very few people know about today when watching her performances on screen.
But it feels as though because of Spoto’s friendship with Grace that the readers don’t get as a big of account of Kelly’s life and career out of respect for her. That is absolutely fine but it means we don’t get a comprehensive look at her life – rather the basic details and nothing more.
There is no doubt that what we do learn about her is fascinating and shows a completely different side to her character that she wasn’t given much of an opportunity to display onscreen. The lack of detail means that even though by the end you feel you get to understand her a bit more, there is still an element of mystery about her that hasn’t been revealed and leaves you wanting more.
What is interesting about Spoto’s biography is the way in which he uses other people’s words to help create a portrait of what Grace was like to spend time with and to work with and there is no doubting that she was universally adored by everyone that she came into contact with.
It is a warm and personal look at one of the most popular actresses to emerge during the 1950’s and is a good introduction to her life and career. But if you are looking for something that is a bit more in depth, it might be better to look elsewhere.
High Society: Grace Kelly and Hollywood is available to buy on Amazon.