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Once Upon A Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier    by J. Randy Taraborrelli order for
Once Upon A Time
by J. Randy Taraborrelli
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

I start with the ending of this long and enjoyable book: 'As in many fairy tales, the Prince, after a soulful search, had found his Princess. She had taken his hand and left the world she'd known behind. Together they created a stronger sovereignty and carried forward a legacy. The years melted away. Now he lives with the memory of his Princess, alone in the Palace, the place he met her; the place he loved her ... the place he'll never leave behind.'

Those words sum up Once Upon A Time. But there is so much more in that sum. There is the skinny on the Kelly family, interesting in their own right; Grace's movie career and what went on behind the scenes - she was hardly the puritan her fans considered her to be; Prince Rainier and his search for a wife who would give him an heir to his throne. Did he not have one, Monaco would revert back to France upon his death.

Climb the marble steps and stride the gilded halls of the Palace, Rainier's home. Enter some of the 235 rooms as you read of royal life. And that wasn't all it's cracked up to be either. But, hey, whose life goes smoothly, whether royalty or peasant? Grace had unforeseen problems giving up her career, problems that intensified as life progressed. It turned her into a mirror of her own mother, a controlling woman who wanted to dictate her daughters' lives.

Those daughters, Caroline and Stephanie, lived unconventional lives and Stephanie continues to do so. Albert, the Heir Apparent, was more amenable and has been trained to follow in his father's footsteps. Grace's attempt to get back into the movies is a sad story, indeed. The elite of Hollywood in the days of her reign as Princess of Monaco flit through Once Upon A Time, as do members of European royalty.

It took Grace time to become loved by the people of Monaco. She fought her unexpected circumstances, the confining life of a royal, and years passed before she would turn to the task set before her - being a Princess in a Principality. Unfortunately, her reign was ended abruptly when she died on a twisting mountain road. She is revered and missed, and her family moves on in her shadow

The author has obviously done his homework to write this book (the amount of research must have been staggering.) Taraborrelli has put that research to good use, writing an engrossing book that was hard to put down. Once Upon A Time is written without bias, just telling the story as it occurred - a story of a woman who is missed.

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