The Grace Kelly Dress
There are a handful of iconic dresses and the Grace Kelly wedding dress is one of them. So, when I spied a novel thus named, I couldn’t resist buying. The Brenda Janowitz story is a winner. The Grace Kelly Dress is a generational story following the entwined lives of women connected to a “copy” of the famous dress.
Rocky, the granddaughter, is a millennial through and through. CEO of her own company, she is in complete control of everything-except her relationship with her mother.
She dyes her hair to fit her mood and it is the something blue for the wedding. Additionally, each major event in her life is celebrated with a new tattoo. She is marrying a man hated at first sight. Drew, the soon-to-be husband brings some baggage into the story, but there is obvious love and affection.
Rocky is at odds with her Mom on just about everything regarding the nuptials. They disagree on cake, venue, music and most of all on the dress. She simply hates the idea of wearing a dress, much less a frilly copy of the Grace Kelly Dress with what she sees as hideous sleeves. Janowitz does an exceptional job of surprising the reader with the “rest of the story.” The mother-daughter duo have a shared history of loss.
Joan represents the sandwich generation. As a reader, I alternated between love and hate for the character. She is the most complex protagonist. And the one to alter the dress in the eighties. She added Princess Diana sleeves!
There is excellent foreshadowing in the storyline of Joan. The author deliberately portrays Joan at the beginning as shallow. Of the three main characters, Joanie grows the most. Her own relationship with her mother is awkward and colored by personal loss. Yet, Joan shows the greatest strength and resilience.
The Original Owner
The third story line of The Grace Kelly Dress originates in Paris, France. Just a few years after Grace Kelly is married, a similar dress is commissioned for a bride-to-be. Diana Laurent fell in love at first sight. Orphaned seamstress Rose designs a dress incorporating elements of the Grace Kelly dress. And Rose falls for Diana’s brother Robert, at first sight.
As the novel develops, the original owner is depicted as in conflict with her own daughter and as a support to her granddaughter. Distance between generations lessons the angst.
The Grace Kelly Dress
In addition to the relationships between mothers and daughters, Janowitz reflects on the social difficulties of each generation. Each of the protagonists overcomes prejudices. The three threads accurately portray the time periods.
Millennials will instantly connect with Rocky. Hopefully, older readers, reminded by the difficulties of the past, will also relate to her struggles of expressing her own identity. The Joan’s of this world are in a unique position. They are the bridge between the past and the future. While their generation struggled with many issues, they are now at a midpoint in life. Still active in life’s challenges, but solidified in their own personality.
Finally, much respect is due to those of Grand Mère’s generation. Wisdom comes with age. Kudos to Janowitz for this portrayal. She provides great examples in both primary and secondary characters.
The Grace Kelly Dress is a wonderful read. Complex characters and issues create a novel that can be enjoyed or dissected. Or both. I strongly recommend this book. This will make the 2020 Top Ten list and may find itself under a Christmas tree or two.