Dutch Girl

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

This was such a unique book.  Not only is it a biography of Audrey Hepburn, but it also gives a detailed history of The Netherlands and their experience during World War II.  I learned so much, but about the actress and her country.
Was this review helpful?
Audrey Hepburn's life would have made a great novel. She was born into a wealthy Dutch aristocrat family with a British father and a Dutch mother. Her parents, who divorced when Hepburn was young, were members of the British Union of Fascists, dedicated supporters of Adolf Hitler. Her mother attended the infamous Nuremberg rally in 1938 and wrote glowingly of it in the British fascist magazine published by Oswald Mosely. Her father was imprisoned in England for the duration of the war, Her mother took Hepburn and her two brothers to live in Holland, thinking that Hitler would not invade. He did, and the harsh realities of a Nazi occupation led the family into support for the Dutch resistance.

In the later years of World War 2 Hepburn was in her mid-teens, an accomplished ballet dancer and a brave participant in the efforts to undermine the Nazi occupation.

Robert Matzen has written a comprehensive biography of Hepburn's life. If it has a fault, it is in too much detail.
Was this review helpful?
Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen tells the story of Audrey Hepburn during the Second World War.
This book caught my attention for two reasons: I’ve always been an admirer of Audrey Hepburn and I wanted to  read more about her experience in Holland during WW II. Furthermore my mother was born in Oosterbeek during this period and I wanted to read more about the history of Arnhem, Velp and Oosterbeek in this period.
I vaguely remembered that  Audrey Hepburn had Dutch roots but didn’t realise that she had lived for a substantial period in the Netherlands during her childhood years.

I think the author did a great job and the book is very well documented. The background history on the Battle of Arnhem, operation market garden was very interesting even though I already knew quite a bit about this part of our history. The vivid description of the airborne parachutists coming down was very evocative even though I’ve seen the droppings that are staged every year on the Ginkelse heide so had a good idea what it would have looked like. I was especially impressed by the descriptions of the evacuations of Arnhem and Oosterbeek, the more because I remembered that my own ancestors were part of the evacuees too. 

I’ve recommended the book to my mother because I saw that there will be a translation in Dutch and the author will be in Oosterbeek in a couple of weeks to sign the book. I’m sure she will enjoy the book as much as I did.

I certainly recommend this book. Full marks.
Was this review helpful?
I adore Audrey Hepburn, and this book gave me a good glimpse into a formative part of her life that isn't usually covered extensively in biographies. I loved learning even more about her, but my heart broke knowing what she had to go through, what all of them had to go through.

You know what makes Audrey Hepburn even more beautiful? Her soul. There's a part in the book where it talks about how WWII and her experiences made her who she was. It made her kind and compassionate and just plain lovely. Such dark atrocities made more light in the form of Audrey Hepburn.
Was this review helpful?
You could go into this book expecting a biography of Audrey Hepburn which I did, but, dear reader, you get so much more.  This book shows in great detail how the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands effected its people by focusing on Audrey Hepburn and her family during this time.   It goes a long way to explain why Audrey was to become so passionate about her work with Unicef in her later years.  
This book is an incredible history lesson about the Netherlands during the war and informed me about episodes in the war that I knew nothing about, and I found it fascinating.  It highlighted just how brave the Dutch people under occupation were and the great lengths they went to help the allied forces.  
Well done to Matzen for writing this book.  By having Audrey as its focus I hope that many more people will read and come to know more about these little mentioned war time events and the bravery of the Dutch people.
Was this review helpful?
An interesting, well written and well researched account of Audrey Hepburn and her experiences through five years of Nazi Occupation of her homeland  the Netherlands.
Was this review helpful?
I always loved Audrey Hepburn and was extremely happy when i received an advance copy of Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen from #netgalley.  It is a well-written story of a girl who built her character during WWII in Denmark. We all know the woman she became-Audrey Hepburn. Before I read the book, I knew that she was born before the war and had to experience a great deal of suffering. Her life story, written by Robert Matzen, is not only an important part of her biography but also an example of a great character. I am sure that there were thousands of stories during the war that everyone needs to know and not to forget about. The book helps us to remember about the sufferings that Audrey, her family and millions more went through. During the war times everyone is equally getting hurt and humanity is the only thing left.
Was this review helpful?
"But Audrey - that was a different story. Ella was determined that he own daughter would not be forbidden; she would be encouraged, funded, and promoted. So yes, Ella lived the life of a stage mother, unashamedly so, and yes, Ella put Audrey up on the stage at the Schouwburg in the Mozart tableau." 

I felt so terrible about Dutch Girl. I just could not finish it. I started it over a month ago, yet I always seemed to stay at one point in the book. I didn't make it past 50%. I think there were three things that did it for me: 

1. The novel itself. 
I thought this was going to be a historical fiction going in. I didn't realize that Dutch Girl was a biography of Audrey Hepburn's life. Already, I was super disappointed going in because of that. 

2. The details. 
Generally, I enjoy almost superfluous amounts of detail in books. Not in this. Every page was filled with excessive detail, for any book. I was skipping pages full of details because there was just so many. 

3. The lack of information about Audrey. 
Obviously, I didn't get through Dutch Girl in its entirety, so there may have been a lot more about Ms. Hepburn later in the book. However, I could not find much. For most of the time, Matzen was talking about Ella (Audrey's mother) and her ties to Hitler and Nazism, as well as the occupied Netherlands/Arnhem. While there were parts that talked more about Audrey's dancing, there wasn't enough in my mind, considering the book was about her.
Was this review helpful?
Wow, I just didn't know any of this about Audrey Hepburn and it just continues to keep her on somewhat of a pedestal in my eyes. Fans of WWII fiction who want to know more about the Netherlands and its' own struggles will be interested in this.
Was this review helpful?
I've always loved Audrey Hepburn, and knew a little about the struggles she faced during the war. I was excited to read this book, which I can highly recommend as being well-written, extremely well-researched and fascinating. It's quite extraordinary that despite her worldwide fame, she managed to keep her parent's political and ideological sympathies a secret.
Was this review helpful?
I wanted to like this book, I was looking forward to reading about Audrey Hepburn’s life but I found it light on the Audrey and heavy on the family history.  Just not what I was expecting to read.
Was this review helpful?
This book is a must-read for those interested in what World War 2 was like for those in occupied countries, and for fans of Audrey Hepburn who are interested in her early life.

This is an exhaustive—and somewhat exhausting—narrative about Audrey’s life in Arnhem/Velp through the years of occupation , the hunger winter, and final 9 months of bombing. Matzen combed through decades of her interviews, interviewed others who were also there, located published and unpublished memoirs, used a Dutch researcher to locate Dutch sources, and had the support (and sources) of her younger son. He also chronicles her rise to fame and her deft maneuvering to never discuss her mother’s early pro-Nazi stance and later investigation.

Interesting and very thoroughly researched.
Was this review helpful?
I learned some interesting details about Audrey Hepburn's early life in Robert Matzen's Biography. However, I must admit that I was expecting to learn much more. Certainly, it was fascinating to learn about her family's on again off again relationship to prominent Nazis and how when those relationships soured, her once privileged family lost everything. 

What I was hoping for was more information about Audrey herself. Matzen's book focuses on her family, her community, and general background regarding how the Dutch fared during the Nazi occupation. I must admit, I was hoping to find more insights into her personal feelings, memories, etc. I suppose that she never revealed those to anyone or at least not to anyone willing to share them with Mr. Matzen.
Was this review helpful?
This was a fascinating book, not only about a famous film star but also about Holland during World War Two. For me this was something I did not know a lot about. The detail of life in this Dutch village was moving. It took a lot of research, noted by the references. The author appears to try and be fair in his evaluation of the information available. I  am not from this generation, so I didn't feel biased in any way. The book appeared to be lengthy and not one I could read quickly but I wanted to finish it. It would be difficult to say I liked it, as the content is disturbing but it did help me understand things and the next time I see a film with Audrey Hepburn in I will see that from a different angle.
Was this review helpful?
I received this book in exchange for a honest review from NetGalley. 

I absolutely adored this book! I have already suggested it to so many people and my library is planning to get a book club set. As the granddaughter of two people who were also children in the occupied Netherlands I think this story needed to be told. There are so few WWII books that delve into the lives of those in the occupied countries and especially the children. Both of my grandparents generally (much like Audrey) refused to speak of the occupation. This book has given me so much insight into how they may have lived and the hardships that they faced. Overall this book is phenomenal and everyone should read it.
Was this review helpful?
Audrey and her family lived through the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands and witnessed the terrible events of the war first hand, including the Hunger Winter of 1944-45. I knew nothing about her parents going in and their story is just as interesting given all of the circumstances. One thing that I didn't expect was the close connection between Audrey and Anne Frank - they were almost exactly the same age and lived fairly close to one another, but their lives were very different. It's easy to see how she grew to become the woman she did especially when it comes to work with children and UNICEF.

Thank you NetGalley, Good Knight Publishing and Robert Matzen for an  e-ARC.of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This is a fascinating book about the early life of Audrey Hepburn that would appeal equally to lovers of cinema and those interested in World War II. It is a striking tale of what those living under Nazi occupation endured but also their own resolve and bravery. I always liked Audrey Hepburn, but now I have extreme respect and gratitude all those like her too. Highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?
Audrey Hepburn has always been an icon to me. She is pure beauty, with poise and talent beyond just on a cinema screen.  I have always admired her charitable work, understanding the kind, caring person she lived to be. This book appealed to me as a fan of hers but through an interest in lives of people throughout the War.  This book talks about Audrey's life before Hollywood...the years she lived under the Nazi occupation of Holland. 

I admit that I never though of what she would have gone through during World War II in the Netherlands. My respect for her has increased so much since I finished reading this book.
I enjoyed this book tremendously, to discover how she was shaped by what she witnessed and suffered. 
This is the first book by Robert Matzen that I've read but I will be interested in reading more.
Was this review helpful?
There are a lot of us Americans who think we know poverty, we understand hunger, appreciate that life is hard and sometimes barren.  Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II is a reality check for even those of us with memories of a rough childhood.  

Most history's and historical novels don't more than touch on the effects of the Second World War on Holland.  This biography by Robert Matzen brings to life the world of young wartorn Audrey, that remarkable actress of Sabrina and Breakfast at Tiffany's fame, that gamine face on the big screen that we feel like we know and love.  After you finish this book, you will have to watch those old films again and know that you really do love that pretty smile and honor the memory of that girl.   

I received a free electronic copy of this biography from Netgalley. Robert Matzen, and GoodKnight Books.  Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.  I have voluntarily read and reviewed this book.  This is my honest opinion of this work.
Was this review helpful?
At its most basic, the Dutch Girl is the story of a Belgium born, girl named Adriaantje, later she would become Audrey Hepburn.   
The book recounts the events which shaped Audrey Hepburn's life during her formative years.  From her early childhood in Belgium to her education in England then to the Netherlands where Audrey continued her education but found that it was dance that most interested her and she excelled in it.  She took lessons not far from her home in the Velp - Arnhem area where she lived with her brothers and mother, Ella.  She began to perform at various venues through-out her neighboring communities.  
The bulk of this book, however, is WWII .  Ella was a Nazi sympathizer and somewhat infatuated with Hitler.  When Nazi personnel work their way into the Netherlands,  Ella welcomes them with open arms but things soon turn sour when the Velp - Arnhem region becomes their main area of command.
If the reader is not familiar with the the affects of WWII in this area, he or she will find this book enlighteining as well as horrifying .  Also of interest, of course, was the lasting impact the war had on Audrey.  She was struck by the imprisonment and assasination of her Uncle and the diary of a young girl, very similar to her in age, named Anne Frank.
Author, Matzen has written a wonderful portrayal of a much loved actress.  Many readers who have enjoyed her as an actress may not have known just how much she had lived through during the years of World War II.
Thank you NetGalley, Good Knight Publishing and the author for an Advance e-ARC of this book.
Was this review helpful?