Book club questions for Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb takes a look at character arcs, Grace Kelly and the gorgeous setting. There are spoilers so if you haven’t read the novel yet, check out my review first.
Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique to fend off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy.
James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love.
Book Club Questions for Meet Me in Monaco
- The story starts off during the Cannes Film Festival in 1955. Let’s first discuss the setting! Have you ever been to the French Rivera or is it on your bucket list?
- Sophie is a perfumer—what did you think about the details regarding how to make perfume? Did you know much about the process going into the novel? Why is this the perfect career for Sophie? What do you think qualifies as an ideal perfume scent?
- What did you think about Sophie’s first interactions with Grace Kelly? How did that meeting set the book in motion? Let’s discuss how their friendship develops throughout the novel.
- What was your initial impression of James? Did that change at all as the book went on? Why do you think James and Sophie were so drawn together? In what ways did Grace Kelly serve as a fairy godmother to their relationship?
- Have you watched any of Grace Kelly’s movies? If so, do you have a favorite? What did you think about her romance with Prince Rainier? Do you think she truly loved him or was it simply out of pressure from her father? Do you see any similarities between Grace Kelly and Meghan Markle?
- Sophie has a tense relationship with her mother due to her alcoholism. Let’s discuss this relationship and how it impacted Sophie.
- There’s so many vivid descriptions in the novel—what are some that stuck out to you?
- While James and Sophie start to develop feelings for each other—they both keep secrets. James doesn’t tell her right away that he has a daughter. While Sophie doesn’t reveal that she’s in a relationship Lucien. What did they keep these huge secrets from each other?
- What did you think about both Sophie and James’ character arcs? Why was important for us to read the story in both of their perspectives?
- James is forced to leave France to be with his daughter and Sophie doesn’t get a chance to tell him in person how she feels. They don’t meet again until after Grace Kelly’s death in the 1980s. Were you surprised they didn’t try to get in touch in some way during that time before? Do you think it’s a fitting ending that they end up together after all these years?
What to read next
If your book club really enjoyed reading about real-life Grace Kelly, I have some more recommendations for you!
The Editor by Steven Rowley features another very famous woman: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. This story is equal parts heartwarming and hilarious. It’s an absolute delight!
After years of trying to make it as a writer in 1990s New York City, James Smale finally sells his novel to an editor at a major publishing house: none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jackie–or Mrs. Onassis, as she’s known in the office–has fallen in love with James’s candidly autobiographical novel, one that exposes his own dysfunctional family. But when the book’s forthcoming publication threatens to unravel already fragile relationships, both within his family and with his partner, James finds that he can’t bring himself to finish the manuscript.
Jackie and James develop an unexpected friendship, and she pushes him to write an authentic ending, encouraging him to head home to confront the truth about his relationship with his mother. Then a long-held family secret is revealed, and he realizes his editor may have had a larger plan that goes beyond the page…
The Gown by Jennifer Robson centers around the making of Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown but it follows the people behind the scenes making her gown.
London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.
Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?
Feel free to chat about Meet Me in Monaco below!