Audrey Hepburn and World War II
by Robert Matzen
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Pub Date 15 Apr 2019 | Archive Date 15 Apr 2019
Just in time for what would’ve been Audrey Hepburn’s 90th birthday...
THE NEVER-BEFORE-TOLD STORY OF A REMARKABLE SURVIVOR WHO WENT ON TO BECOME AN ICON FOR THE AGES
The story of one of the most enduring and beloved stars Hollywood has ever produced -- Audrey Hepburn -- has been told again and again since her passing in 1993. An Amazon search of books with her name will produce well over a thousand titles, with every aspect of her life but one covered in print: her years during World War II when she lived in the Netherlands under Nazi rule.
On April 15, 2019 -- just weeks before what would’ve been her 90th birthday -- critically acclaimed and bestselling biographer Robert Matzen reveals the true war story of this cinematic icon. The book, as shocking as it is vital and triumphant, is DUTCH GIRL: AUDREY HEPBURN AND WORLD WAR II [GoodKnight Books].
The culmination of years of painstaking research by Matzen -- who conducted new interviews with people who knew Audrey Hepburn in the Netherlands, unearthed secret diaries, gained access to previously classified archives, and combed through decades of her own infrequent but revealing reminiscences in interviews -- DUTCH GIRL contains substantive proof of holes, errors, and inventions in every previous Audrey Hepburn biography that’s touched on her life during the war years. In fact, the real story is more incredible than anything presented by previous biographers.
From debunking the mythology of Hepburn’s lineage (did the wealthy van Heemstras actually have their money stolen by the Nazis?) to revealing the extent of her involvement with the Dutch Resistance and an active role tending wounded of the famed “Bridge Too Far” battle of Arnhem, DUTCH GIRL is a definitive biography that exposes an extraordinary story of courage, tragedy, perseverance, and triumph -- and contributes immeasurably to the legacy of one of the world’s most famous actresses, fashion icons, and humanitarians.
The third and final book in Matzen’s ‘Hollywood in WWII’ Trilogy -- which includes the award-winning 2013 book FIREBALL: CAROLE LOMBARD AND THE MYSTERY OF FLIGHT 3 and 2016 bestseller MISSION: JIMMY STEWART AND THE FIGHT FOR EUROPE -- DUTCH GIRL is a not-to-be-missed spring 2019 release.
A Note From the Publisher
"When my mother talked about herself and what life taught her, Hollywood was the missing guest. Instead of naming famed Beverly Hills locations, she gave us obscure and sometimes unpronounceable Dutch ones. Red carpet recollections were replaced by Second World War episodes that she was able to transform into children’s tales. We knew we were missing the complete story of her life in the war—until Robert Matzen wrote to me introducing himself and his book, Dutch Girl. I now understand why the words Good and Evil, and Love and Mercy were so fundamental in her own narrative. Why she was open about certain facts and why she kept so many others in a secluded area of her being. Thank you, Robert Matzen.”
-- Luca Dotti, NYT Bestselling Author & youngest son of Audrey Hepburn
** Heavy saturation in long-lead national market magazines, newspapers, and online outlets
** Strong social media promotion on all platforms targeting Hollywood and military history influencers for spotlights and giveaways, including book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nYgte2AjoE
** Publication-month TV, radio, and blog tours with author Robert Matzen and national TV appearances by Matzen teamed with Audrey’s son (and NYT-bestselling author) Luca Dotti, who wrote the foreword for the book
** Book launch speaking and book-signing events in select cities (TBA)
** Targeted Spring 2019 advertising with key book and library trade publications
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 173 members
An autobiography of Audrey Hepburn. Most people knew her as the star of many famous films but behind that facade was a girl who lived a troubled and tragic childhood that she kept hidden. This is an account of her life approved by her son.
This book has both nothing and everything to do with Audrey Hepburn. The story is largely about the Nazi occupation in the Netherlands and all of the famine and violence that it brought. There is so much to Audrey's demeanor that was never understood during her lifetime and this book sheds light on the trauma and devastation that she faced with her family. There were some shocking moments to the book but I don't wish to provide spoilers.
If you aren't "into" war books, as I was, this book may at times feel daunting - but Matzen is really pushing a realistic look of The Netherlands at war. I pushed through those particular sections and feel like stories like these shed light on the darkest days of our humanity, and how we can transcend them.
I found this book interesting both as a childhood biography of Audrey Hepburn, giving some context to her later life as a UNICEF ambassador for children, and as a history of the Netherlands in World War Two. The author had obviously done a lot of research to unearth some of the stories deliberately hidden from previous biographers, such as Audrey's mother's early Nazi sympathies. There was also a great deal of detail about one of the most famous episodes in World War Two military history (Operation Market Garden) and about the experiences of ordinary people under Nazi occupation. I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in the history of World War Two in Europe, especially the civilian experience, as well as fans of Audrey Hepburn.
I gave this book a 4 out of 5 star review. It was an enjoyable and I would recommend. to others. Generously provided to me through NetGalley
Dutch Girl documents the life of Audrey Hepburn during her years in the Netherlands which includes the torrent episodes of World War 2. At times the book comes across as a history book about the Netherlands and WWII and the story of a would be actress who would steal the hearts of the world in her adulthood.
The novel does not really go into her films or life after she had become a star. It does however document an important part of world history and the part she played in these events and her family, mainly her mother’s role with Nazi’s and the change of attitude once the Germans invade the Netherlands. It is a very interesting novel and I was captivated by the way Matzen is able to weave the two stories together. The story of the Netherlands is more interesting and tends to overshadow the story of Hepburn.
The novel can be described as a thinly disguised book selling on the life of a movie star but delivering a historical account of Germany and Netherlands. I personally found it to be about a family and their involvement during the War and it gave the war a personal face through their experiences. This is where the novel does amazingly well.
There will be a bit of disappointment who are expecting a straightforward biography. This will probably be the thorn in the books side because this is more a book about the war and a girl who will grow to be one of the most iconic film stars of her generation. This is really an extraordinary book that if it was dressed up as a WW2 book, I probably would have bypassed it on the shelves but as it was a biography, it kept me interested and engrossed in the history. I learned about an awkward girl and her family during a terrible time in history, I was able to empathise with life during this time period.
My hats are off to Matzen and it is pure ingenious on how he was able to give me a history lesson disguised as a biography of a film star and show me the human story behind historical events. This is a winner and one of the hardest reviews to write. Highly recommended.
Straightforward focus on particular aspect of this really fascinating woman's life, more complex and international than maybe people think .. her background surely influenced not only her life choices, but the grit we feel in her performances ..not only for fans! For anyone wanting a different angle on how women specifically survive and achieve ..
This is a book that brings alive the early life of Audrey Hepburn and it is also an account of how the Netherlands suffered during the invasion in World War 2 . I found it fascinating, as someone who has visited the area around Arnhem countless times over the last 30 years. The reader learns of Audrey’s mother Ella, Baroness van Heemstras and after a failed first marriage she married Robert an Englishman and Audrey born in England spent her early life enjoying an English school and beginning ballet, which was to be the love of her life. Later her parents, deeply interested in Hilter left the children, Audrey and her two half brothers to enjoy the Nazi inner circle and in Ella’s case write about the greatness of the Nazis, which was to haunt her later in life. As her parents marriage breaks up it is in Arnhem that she begins to enjoy family life with grandpa, the Baron and her circle of van Heemstras and their connected noble families.The beginnings of her dedication to learning ballet starts and then the invasion by Germany happens.At first her mother Ella is keen to keep her friendships with the invaders setting up Audrey to dance for the German soldiers at a concert and performing a masque to celebrate Bach. Then as the war develops they find themselves in Arnhem as life gets more difficult and the beloved Uncle Otto is seized probably in retaliation for Queen Wilhemia’s speech in New York and after an Resistance incident, it is he and four other prisoners who are executed as a reprisal.
The terrible conditions the family suffer when they move to Vip to one rented house where they worry about the hidden English soldier whilst Germans use an attic for thei4 radion. Here we learn of the terrible events of Market Garden and then the aftermath. The family as well as all Holland suffer starvation, grinding up bulbs to make flour and then face the bombing by the Allies who realise that tanks are based nearby plus the V1 and V2 rockets fired on England but landing local. Audrey plays her part by teaching ballet classes, working with the hospital and delivering Underground newsletters. This part of her life is carefully researched and the young teenager’s life with the regime even her illness from malnutrition is explained. The suffering of all is clear. Whilst touching on her films and her two marriages and her dedication to her two sons the majority of the story is the war and her life post war. Her later life as a UNICEF Ambassador for children brings the story full circle when she is able to identify the suffering of the children in the war torn areas she visited with her own war time e periences. This is a thoroughly engaging book that I feel all should read to show the futility of war.
People probably like this book will probably be more interested in World War II than Audrey Hepburn. Audrey Hepburn lived through and experienced major episodes of World War II which ended when she was fifteen. However, the book needed to make a better connection Audrey Hepburn's childhood and her adult. Also, the book has a more information about Holland and World War II than is strictly needed for a book that is mainly about Audrey Hepburn.
Audrey Hepburn lived through some of the major incidents of World War II. Both her parents were early supporters of Hitler and Fascism (her mother continue to support the Germans two years into Germany's occupation of Holland). Her father left her when she was a small child. Audrey Hepburn's mother brought Audrey Hepburn back to Holland at the beginning of World War II believing that Holland would be safe from the Germans. Some of Audrey Hepburn's early education in ballet and theatre was helped because her mother was friendly with the Germans.
In about 1942, two years into the German Occupation of Holland, Audrey Hepburn's mother seems to have changed and at least not actively helped the Germans. Audrey Hepburn had an uncle that was shot by the Germans. Her family lived in Velp which saw some of the most intense fighting during the war. The area also experienced severe hunger. Audrey Hepburn and her family helped both the British and the Dutch resistance. The area had many hidden Jews..
The book barely touches on Audrey Hepburn's later life. One would be interested to find a more direct connection between Audrey Hepburn's later life and her war experiences.
The more interesting parts of the book are about Audrey Hepburn's mother worked with the Nazi’s until 1942. Her mother was on some Dutch watch lists for being pro-Nazi. My mother fled Nazi Germany so I know that anyone who had what appeared to be voluntary Nazi sympathies could be intensely hated by victims of the Nazis. Audrey Hepburn's mother seem to have a talent for being able to reinvent herself and could hide her Nazi past.
Audrey Hepburn seems to have taken some care to hide her mother's Nazi sympathies. Also, Audrey Hepburn herself had to keep quiet that some of her performances that she when she was ten to twelve were done with German sponsorship when she gave talked about her childhood in Holland.
It would have been helpful to know how Audrey Hepburn's war experiences affected her adult life. The author seems to assume that people have in depth knowledge about Audrey Hepburn’s later acting career and about her humanitarian activities which many people nowadays don’t have.
Again, this book more a book about people interested in World War II than Audrey Hepburn the movie star.
I received a free copy of this book from Negalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book provides a lot of detail about the early life and war years of Audrey Hepburn and her family, but even more details about the German occupation of the Arnhem area where Audrey spent most of her early years. There was almost too much detail of various events, and sometimes I felt that the story lost sight of Audrey. Nevertheless, it was an interesting read.
"Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II" eBook was published in 2019 (April) and was written by Robert Matzen (https://robertmatzen.com). Mr. Matzen has published three books.
I categorize this novel as ‘G’. The book tells about the mostly early life of actress Audry Hepburn paying special attention to the years 1940-45 when she lived in the occupied Netherlands.
This book gives an entirely different look at Hepburn. Much is told of her life as an eleven to sixteen-year-old in the German-occupied Netherlands. Then in 1944, the life of she and her family take a turn for the worst when the Allies undertake Operation Market Garden. They were living in Arnhem and were in the middle of days of battle between Allied and Nazi forces.
The months, nearly 200 days, following Market Garden were not much better as they had to survive in damaged housing and with almost no food until they were finally liberated by the Allies on April 16, 1945.
I enjoyed the 8 hours I spent reading this 400-page biography. I thought that this was an interesting story of survival by a young girl who developed into an international movie star. I found it interesting that Hepburn was such an enthusiastic and talented ballet dancer before and during the early years of the war. I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.
Further book reviews I have written can be accessed at https://johnpurvis.wordpress.com/blog/.
My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).
Princess Fuzzypants here: There once was an actress who very well could have been a princess. In fact, she came from a long line of European aristocracy. To look at her, one would think a brisk wind could blow her away but behind the surface, there was a very strong woman who survived much and accomplished more in her life.
Anyone who has ever watched an Audrey Hepburn movie would be forgiven for thinking she was a delicate waif. But as the reader learns more about her early years, particularly the ones during WWII, one realizes the steel behind the fragile form. Born into a family of exquisite blood lines but very little money, she had the unfortunate luck to have two very challenging parents. Her father abandoned his family early in her life and her mother was hyper critical of everything about Audrey. They also had a fascination with Hitler and the Nazis, her mother’s lasting into the Occupation of Holland. It was something that, even though she attempted to make amends, would haunt both her and Audrey all their lives.
Yet, in spite of her parents, or perhaps ironically because of them, Audrey had a discipline, courage, strength and compassion that was monumental. She wanted to be a ballerina but was too tall and started too late to achieve her desire. She fell into acting and stardom and was able to walk away with no regrets. She was able to find contentment in giving to others, both her family and the children of the world even with the ghosts that would haunt her.
She was a remarkable woman. This biography tells her story beautifully and gives the reader a glimpse of the true beauty that lay behind the image she projected. The world lost an admirable soul when she died. I am glad she can live again in this book.
Five purrs and two paws up.
I enjoyed this book tremendously and was extremely excited at getting an insight into the tumultuous life of Audrey Hepburn, one of the most amazing actresses of her time. The novel was insightful and very interesting.
Well written and well researched biography of Audrey Hepburn. I learned so much that I did not know about my favorite actress.
I will say there were times that my heart raced. I was terrified, I cried and I was elated. This was an emotional ride. Well worth the time, and double the money.
This book is about Hepburn’s early years in Europe during the war. It has a foreword by her youngest son Luca Dotta. She had always been very introverted, a quiet, shy girl. Probably more so after her parents split and her father wasn’t around anymore. but the ballet lessons she loved so much finally helped her become more expressive outwardly. Her mother, Baroness Ella Van Heemstra was very pro-German before the war began and had met Hitler a couple of times during their many travels. But then Audrey’s father had walked out when she was 6. They were both taking it hard but Audrey was really worried about her mother.
Elle put Audrey in a school and found her some ballet classes in London, but when war became imminent her mother had her brought to the always previously neutral Netherlands to live. It was hard for Audrey because she didn’t speak the language there and so didn’t understand a word of what they were saying at school. The only thing that made it bearable for her was that her mother was able to get her into ballet classes again. She grew up as Adriaantje (little Audrey) Van Heemstra, but after the Germans moved in she became known as the English-sounding Audrey Hepburn-Ruston. Ella is good at organizing events, especially if it will be something that will offer a chance to show her daughter’s talent. But she’s lacking in showing warm feelings to Audrey, who is so needing them. Audrey can’t understand why Ella is still friendly with the Germans, who are being so cruel to their Jewish friends. Though, as time goes on and her mother can no longer ignore what’s going on, she does stop socializing with them, etc. But this will cause problems for Audrey throughout the rest of her life.
About halfway through the book, near the end of the war, it begins speaking from Audrey’s later perspective, done in italics, where she returns to the Netherlands and reminisces about the war, married and a star. This appears off and on through the book. It’s well researched and reads well. This is for those interested in the old star biographies, and WWII. My thanks for the advance electronic copy that was provided by NetGalley, author Robert Matzen, and the publisher for my fair review.
I received a copy of Dutch Girl from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I loved this book. It's not just a biography of Audrey Hepburn but a biography of the time and place that made her who she was.
Robert Matzen does a stunning job of bring Audrey to life.
Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen is a superb novel with impressive research in regards to the biography and true life-story of the adolescence of Audrey Hepburn-Ralston.
To finally have well-researched story to give a foundation of who Audrey was and how she became who she was later in life, is astounding.
To hear all the hurdles she overcame, to hear all the horrors that she had to endure, makes one fall in love with her all over again.
Audrey wasa strong, passionate, selfless woman who overcame it all to be a great mother, daughter, and family member. Her professional jobs later in life as an “actress” os just the smallest part of this puzzle.
This is a must read. Well done. 5/5.
Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this gem in return for my honest review.
Loved this book. It's a deep dive not just into the early years of Audrey Hepburn but into those dark years of the Netherlands' occupation by Nazi Germany. You don't have to be a fan of Miss Hepburn to enjoy this book. Read it as a history book, if you want. It has great heart and is very personal. Five starrs. Good job!
I hadn't read books about Audrey Hepburn before, all I knew was that she was European and spoke many languages fluently. Author Robert Matzen makes it clear that other biographers were wrong about details he got right. Her Dutch mother, Baroness Ella van Heemstra, persuaded her English father Joseph Ruston to take on his ancestor's surname, an Earl of Bothwell named James Hepburn, which is how her birth name came to be Adriaantje Hepburn-Ruston.
War is complex and I can totally appreciate how one family can honestly stress bits in their past about abetting Allied soldiers and being tormented by Nazis while neglecting to emphasize that her mother's fluent German helped her find work and avoid worse suffering, or the fact that both her parents supported fascism to varying degrees and at different points in time. Clearly the effects of war impacted Audrey Hepburn her whole life, compelling her to maintain rigid privacy and to give her all to UNESCO and child victims of war worldwide.
Audrey is all honesty, integrity, and genuineness. I love that the gossip here is more political than saucy. In fact, according to Eleanor Harris's Good Housekeeping article, the dish on Audrey in 1959 was that as a patient she refused narcotics and sedatives and never complained, while filming The Nun's Story was seen selflessly serving thirsty Africans her water rather than drinking it herself, and as a wife and mother she was known to run a perfect household, and to credit self-discipline for her world-famous waist.
I would recommend this book to war afficionados, there was incredible attention to detail on the subject. Matzen alludes to gallows humor being a Dutch specialty, but I wish he'd provided examples. I was very curious about the Dutch ethnic slur for Germans "moffen" or "moff," meaning unwashed and backward people; when I looked it up online, I laughed out loud to find it defined as Menschen ohne Freunde (people without friends)!
I thoroughly enjoyed this captivating book about Audrey Hepburn's years in the Netherlands during WWII. Matzen fills in the voids that Hepburn was intentionally vague about. And with good reason: her mother was a Nazi sympathizer during the 1930s. The book highlights just how cruel the war was to the Dutch, right to the very end. Matzen's descriptions are vivid. He has a great introduction and it was almost as fun to read his notes as it was the text.
war-is-hell, world-war-ll, The Netherlands, ballerina, UNESCO *****
Who knows more about children's troubles living in a country visited by war than a girl who lived in England and then was summarily moved to the Netherlands not long before it was occupied by the Nazis. Her later accomplishments allowed her to make a difference through UNESCO, but that frightened girl remained inside her forever.
This biographer had some real advantages in being vetted by Audrey's son and also being able to have someone able to access classified documents in the Netherlands. At first the book spends an inordinate amount of time lauding her mother and later details some aspects of the War in Europe in excruciating military detail. However, even if the reader only reads half the book and skims whatever doesn't suit, it is worth the full retail price.
I requested and received a free ebook copy from Smith Publicity via NetGalley. Thank you!
If you are interested in how Audrey Hepburn became the composed and compassionate woman she was, Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen is a must read. Dutch Girl is the little known story of Hepburn's years during WWII. She was 10 when Holland was invaded and 15 when it was liberated. She has said "My childhood in Arnhem and in Velp was the most important part of my youth." You learn how a young girl running errands for the Dutch Resistance between ballet practice balanced life as the daughter of a Hitler idolizing mother and a Nazi spy father.
This book is also a detailed account of WWII in Holland and would be a good book for anyone interested in WWII history. Robert Matzen did his research not only on Hepburn but also on the war and it's effects on Holland.
I received an uncorrected proof copy of the book from Netgalley and this copy is a little disjointed, I can only assume that it will flow better before actual publication. Even that stated, I would still highly recommend this book.
The story of one of the most enduring and beloved stars Hollywood has ever produced -- Audrey Hepburn -- has been told again and again since her passing in 1993. An Amazon search of books with her name will produce well over a thousand titles, with every aspect of her life but one covered in print: her years during World War II when she lived in the Netherlands under Nazi rule.
On April 15, 2019 -- just weeks before what would’ve been her 90th birthday -- critically acclaimed and bestselling biographer Robert Matzen reveals the true war story of this cinematic icon. The book, as shocking as it is vital and triumphant, is DUTCH GIRL: AUDREY HEPBURN AND WORLD WAR II
As soon as I saw this book, I knew I had to read it! I've been a big fan of Audrey Hepburn for a long time and I'm always interested in reading about her life. This isn't just a biography of Audrey Hepburn but a biography of the time and place that made her who she was. I found it to be well researched and nicely put together.
Thank you #NetGalley for the ARC of #DutchGirl
Pub Date: 15 Apr 2019
Book Court - Where I'm the Judge and Jury
CHARGE (What is the author trying to say?): To explore Audrey Hepburn’s early years in the Netherlands during World War II and how it affected her development as a person and as an actress.
FACTS: Audrey, called Adriaantje, was born in Brussels. She was blindsided at age 6 by the separation of her parents and her banishment to a small boarding school in England. “She would never quite recover from the shock of the separation.” Her mother, Ella, was a Nazi-sympathizer and spent a lot of time in Germany. Her father also traveled extensively for the Third Reich. After Great Britain declared war on Germany, Audrey was moved to the Netherlands, where she lived with her mother and two half-brothers. Reunited with her mother would prove difficult. “Audrey would spend most of the next forty-five year subjugating her own will to that of her mother.” Audrey was trained in classical ballet. The circumstances of Anne Frank and the writing of her diary had a profound effect on Audrey. As the author describes the horrors and privations of the war years, he notes that Hepburn very rarely discussed them herself – though these experiences affected her for the remainder of her life. The book does bog down with too much focus on the unfolding history and too little on Audrey herself.
VERDICT (Was the author successful?): Guilty, as charged.
Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and WW II
by Robert Matzen
Good Knight Books, Pittsburgh
Audrey Hepburn was born in Belgium in 1929 and was always a shy and quiet person, best known for her work as an ambassador for UNICEF and for starring in movies including Breakfast At Tiffanyś and My Fair Lady.
This is a fascinating and intriguing look at at a part of Audrey life that is not as well known, her 5 years of living through Nazi Occupation in the Netherlands and her participation in the Dutch Resistance. She worked as a Doctorś assistant during ´The Bridge Too Far´ battle at Arnhem, she witnessed the brutal execution of her Uncle and lived through the Hunger Winter of 1944, esp hard to read. Taken from Audreyś wartime diaries, interviews with her sons and people she knew, and from research done at the Dutch archives, this is a compelling telling of a little-known part of the life of one of our most beloved actresses and personalities ever. Reading of her experiences through WWII were emotionally difficult, and hard to imagine but it gives such great insight to the ravages and devastation of this war and itś influences on peoples lives.
Highly recommended for fans of Audrey and WWII.
Thanks to Good KNight Books for sharing this ebook ARC for review.
Born in Belgium and having spend the first 18 years of my life there I was always interested in actress Audrey Hepburn.
Reading this book made me even appreciate her more for the type of woman she had become. I'm so glad this book was researched at a time when some of the children having lived through that awful period under the control of the Nazis where still alive to be able to talk about it.
If you are looking for a glamorous story this book is not for you. This tells what is was like. Some readers find this is more about the war and life in that five year period under the Nazis then about Audrey. I think they are wrong because it very much gives back her life story at a time when her biggest worry should have been about dancing and to start thinking about boys.
The chapter notes beginning at page 321 gives a description of the sources consulted. A lot of work and research went into producing this book.
Mentioning is made of some YouTube videos which are interesting to watch.
Book was historical in nature. Provided information on Nazi occupation of Europe, especially the Netherlands. Gave insight to how common citizens were duped into believing in Hitler and the Nazi regime. Provided insight into why Audley H was so quiet about her private life and the lives of her family.
As soon as I heard about this book it went straight on to my tbr list and it did not disappoint.
This book is so detailed and well researched even the end notes are interesting reading.
It focuses on the childhood of Audrey Hepburn, particularly her life during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during World War Two. Hepburn was notoriously adept at separately her private and professional life in interviews, but by putting all the pieces together with the support of her family, the author has told a story that has remained untold.
It's a fascinating story - the details of the van Heemstra family and the part they play in Dutch history, Ella van Heemstras Nazi sympathies, Hepburn's dancing career and surviving the Nazi occupation are fascinating. What also stands out is the longterm affect the war years had on Hepburn and how they shaped the actress and woman she became.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will definitely return to it in the future - the breadth and depth of it warrant a reread.
Thank you netgalley for this advanced copy in return for an honest review
Robert Matzen is described by his publisher as "one of today’s top authors in popular biography" but the word popular should not detract from the years of scholarly research that have gone into producing this readable but also authoritative book. Painstaking research included new interviews with those who actually knew Hepburn in the Netherlands, archival research in several countries, previously unpublished secret diary entries and the limited references made by Hepburn to her early life. Hepburn as is repeatedly mentioned in the book was a very private person who was very careful whom she granted interviews to, always ensuring that the conversations did not stray into areas of her life that she felt uncomfortable with until her death.
In the preface her son Luca Dotti states that after the research conducted for the book he now has a greater understanding to this reticence and "why she was open about certain facts and why she kept so many others in a secluded area of her being." The central thesis of the book is that not only did the wartime experiences that she suffered make her the person that she would become but that they would also ultimately shorten her life.
The book delves into the murky lives of her parents which Hepburn would always try to conceal. Her mother wrote propaganda articles for British Fascist magazines in the 1930's, attended Nazi rallies and at least at the start of the occupation of the Netherlands would take an outwardly collaborationist stance. Her estranged father would be detained in a British prison during the war as an enemy agent. Although she was at school in England when war commenced, her mother believing that the neutrality of the Netherlands would be respected took in hindsight the disastrous decision in 1939 to fly her back there to escape the ravages of war.
The book's main content focuses on the occupation of the Netherlands and the effect this had on Audrey Hepburn and her family. This included the execution of her uncle, severe hunger, helping the resistance and witnessing the intense fighting due to her location near Arnhem. Although primarily concerned with her formative years reference is also made to her later life where she became not only a world famous actress and lasting fashion icon but also a humanitarian with The Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund continuing to have a number of ongoing projects designed to raise money and awareness for the needs of children worldwide.
A fascinating biography that dispels some previously accepted beliefs and is accompanied by a large selection of photographs. If you are interested in the factors that helped to shape such an iconic figure then this will be of interest to you.
The giddiness I felt upon receiving an advanced digital copy of this book to review was immense (thank you NetGalley and Smith Publicity!). I’m not alone in saying I’ve loved Audrey Hepburn since I first saw her in movies like Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. My personal library includes several books about her, and my infant son even has his own Audrey biography to enjoy! The more I’ve learned about her over the years, the larger my admiration has grown. Dutch Girl opens with an introduction from Luca Dotti, Hepburn’s youngest son. Knowing that he learned new information about his mother from Matzen’s research got me extra excited to read it, and I was not disappointed. Matzen’s writing captivated me and it felt like he was actually there taking notes on Hepburn’s family. I learned and was surprised by so much! I highly, highly recommend this for anyone who has even the slightest interest in Audrey Hepburn. Very well done!
I enjoyed this book immensely. While I love biographies and memoir-type books, it is a rare treat to find an author who can write said book and keep it interesting. While the subject matter itself might be enough to hold the reader's interest, I tend to find myself with a pile of unfinished biographies, because the writing style was putting me to sleep. But Robert Matzen did a brilliant job of not only holding my interest, but keeping Dutch Girl running through my head each time I had to walk away from the book to tend to adulthood. A new fan of this author and a definite recommend for Dutch Girl.
A corking read! If you are only familiar with Audrey Hepburn onscreen, you need to read this detailed and harrowing account of her life in the Netherlands under Nazi occupation. Matzen's book chronicles the years with detail, harrowing detail. How this period of her life shaped the woman who became the woman Audrey Hepburn is set out with care and scholarship that is admirable. His style of writing is exciting and also elegant. Knowing of Hepburn's long work for UNICEF, this book makes you understand why. Her work as a child in the resistance, amazing. Those brave souls. When I thought I could not admire this woman more, this book gives ample reasons why she is an inspiring figure 20+ years after her passing. A must read.
Audrey Hepburn on war: " I wouldn't have missed it for the world-anything that happens to you is valuable."
Thank you, Sarah, from Smith Publicity for sending the ARC of Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II by Robert Matzen. Just like her movies, this book flew by like a motion picture with me seeing myself as Audrey's imaginary friend. The next time I watch any of her superhit movies, I won't be able to stop thinking about this book. I am sure, Audrey might be giving Dutch Girl a thumbs up from heaven.
Robert Matzen records the life of Audrey Hepburn, a movie star who was known for her humanitarian work beyond Hollywood. This book starts with a touching note from Audrey's daughter, Luca Dotti. The write-up describes Audrey as a doting mother who didn't let her superstar status affect her kids. Luca warmly remembers her mother's knack of turning her wartime anecdotes into bedtime stories. As we read further, the book starts slightly before Audrey's birth as the author fleshes out her family's history.
Audrey was born in Belgium to Baroness Ella van Heemstra and Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston. Contrary to her mother's outgoing personality, Audrey was a shy and reticent child. Her childhood was uprooted when she was sent to boarding in England away from family. Soon after her birth, her parents separated due to which she rarely met her father. However, her maternal grandfather filled up that role in her life. Growing up alongside her older stepbrothers, she was a moody child. During that time, Hitler's control over Europe was mushrooming along with Audrey's growth, At a tender age, she witnessed her motherland come under Hitler's rule, overnight. Although her mother wasn't an overly emotional parent, they still connected. In fact, it was Ella who watered Audrey's interest in ballet and after a few months of practice, she gained popularity as a ballet star. This also became a base for her acting career at a blooming age of 21.
Dutch Girl has deep dived into Audrey Hepburn's personality beyond just the image that the world witnessed on the big screen. Not many of us recognise her as an empathetic and caring human that she was. More importantly, growing up in the wartime moulded her in adulthood. The author also describes the traumas and successes of Audrey's life, making the readers feel as if they are witnessing it in front of their eyes.
What I was able to read was phenomenal. I had an unfortunate case of serious errors while trying to read this, which definitely took away from being able to enjoy it. I couldn't even get to the end.
However I can't fault the book for technological error that has nothing to do with its content.
What I read was well written, engaging and informative. There was never a point where I felt it was slow, or lacking pace; filled in with random input to fill page counts. I thoroughly look forward to being able to purchase this upon release, and being able to read it without system freezing and being sent back to page 5 no matter how far I was.
Over all five stars for the work itself and the amazing information it divulged.
This month I'd tried to make an effort to read a few non-fiction things and I went into this expecting heavy reading. My knowledge of WWII is fairly limited as to what I was taught in school with focus more on the United Kingdom and Germany. Then there was the remarkable Anne Frank, whose diary I've read countless times and cried until I couldn't stop. This novel is a great insight into life in the Netherlands during WWII with Audrey Hepburn and her relatives lives as a focus. And oh, Audrey, how you have suffered and persevered. 'Dutch Girl' does a great job convincing you just how integral Audrey's experiences of WWII were to her later life, how her parents' actions and decisions shaped her very being, the things in life Audrey never wished to discuss (understandably so). I truly don't know what else to write as my heart aches for the childhood that many in WWII never got to have, the countless lives lost not just in the duration of the war but the trauma forever held afterwards. Audrey might never have been the greatest actress of her generation but her charm and grace resonated with many, and I think will for many years to come.
Wow, I really didnt realise how interesting the WW2 / Audrey Hepburn combo would be when I first picked up this book. I'm pretty shocked at some of the things I have read.
Audrey's parents were particularly interesting, her father was British and was considered a traitor and spent most of the war in a British prison. Her mother, Dutch, actively supported and met Hitler on many occasions, and even wrote about it in a fascist newspaper, something that followed her for a lifetime and had many implications.
What really struck a cord with me though was the connection to Anne Frank. Anne and Audrey were born weeks apart, the same age, just 60 miles away from each other and how different their lives were. I was amazed that Anne wrote in her diary an event in which Audrey's uncle was murdered. Audrey was called upon many a times to play Anne is various films which she always turned down.
Overall I enjoyed this however in true non fiction style it's a dry read.
Many of us know Audrey Hepburn as the extraordinarily waifish, pixie-like actress who played Gigi, Holly Golightly and Eliza Doolittle in our favorite movies. In her later years, she was a devoted UNICEF Ambassador and her love and care for children was at the forefront of her life until her death. Audrey was a very private person, did not usually give lengthy interviews and never answered questions regarding her childhood or teenage years. Most people thought she was "aloof" and too high society to do much socializing and wondered why. Robert Matzen's DUTCH GIRL is the story that provides answers as to what Audrey Kathleen van Heesmstra Hepburn-Ruston's life growing up was like. And growing up during World War II, life was anything BUT a movie.
Taking the reader back in time, we are there with Audrey as she is raised with her two step brothers by a mother who is too caught up in travelling in the limelight of the Nazis and Hitler and leaving her daughter behind with relatives. Bereft of a mother's love, Audrey develops a great love of ballet and because her mother had always dreamed of becoming a famous dancer herself, Ella does all she can to provide dance lessons and teachers for Audrey and lives vicariously through her daughters dancing triumphs.
But war takes its toll on everyone and as more threats develop the van Heemstra family must do whatever they can just to survive for five harrowing years.
Bringing snippets of Audrey's later years in Hollywood with glimpses of interviews with Audrey, her casting directors, co-stars and her two sons, Sean and Luca, we see how her years in wartime had a life-long affect on how she continued to live her life and relate to others.
For anyone who has loved and admired Audrey Hepburn, this book is an eye-opening homage to a legendary actress and humanitarian.
Dutch Girl Audrey Hepburn and World War II by Robert Matzen
A treasure for historians, this is more a book about the Netherlands during WWII than it is of Audrey Hepburn. Doggedly researched, this book is a very detailed history lesson. Names, places, and even addresses blur as the author relates one event after another. The account of Audrey’s rise to fame as an actress is a very small part of this book. We only read a brief section of her post-war life in the last ten percent or so of the story.
As the author explains, the German invasion of the Netherlands disrupted the well organized, happy life the Dutch knew. Audrey’s mother Ella was initially sympathetic to the Nazis, and found Adolph Hitler especially charming in the early 1940s. That changed over time, but the truth of her politics followed her the rest of her life.
Most dramatic for the Dutch was the lack of food, and overcrowding as nearby towns evacuated to Velp, Audrey’s village. Malnutrition was the norm and they were always cold. All suffered coal shortages, along with the lack of blankets, clothing and anything else of value because the Germans took all available food and supplies. They also imposed strict curfews. Many citizens, including Audrey’s Uncle Otto, disappeared to be shot or died of starvation.
Machine guns and bombs from overhead required the family to stay indoors for very lengthy periods of time. The author knows every shot and shell blasted, bomb dropped and the times of day the barrage took place. He recounts nearly every battle fought near Velp. His research is mind boggling.
Little Audrey (Adriaantje) had a disjointed childhood living in one place and then another with one relative or another. Her mom, Ella, had a flair for drama and her father was rarely seen. Audrey’s Aunt Meisje was more a mother to her. She played and cuddled with Audrey, while Ella was the rule enforcer who very rarely showed her children affection. Ella did, however, see that Audrey received ballet lessons throughout the good and the bad times, as ballet was Audrey’s true passion. It eventually transported her to a life she couldn’t have imagined during the war.
But no matter how awful, Audrey recalls some good times from the war, mostly her dance which she loved, and the stories everyone told at night in the dark to keep themselves entertained. Throughout her life, Audrey looked for the good in any situation, but as an adult, she refused to divulge any stories of her experiences during the war.
While this book give in depth details of Audrey Hepburn during World War 2 it also tells of the Netherlands during the invasion of the Germans and Nazi Rule. Interesting to read how Audrey was influenced by the war. Well researched and documented about a sad part of history.
I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from the publisher and am voluntarily reviewing it.
One of the best biographies I've read in a long time. This beautifully researched and written book chronicles the early life of actress/dancer Audrey Hepburn in the Netherlands in World War II. Though she spent some of her early years in England, she returned to Velp and Arnhem in the Netherlands right before the German occupation. Towards the end of the war, Audrey and three relatives took refuge in the cellar as one of the last major battles of the war raged right above them.
"Dutch Girl," in one sense, is a tale of one small Dutch town's experiences during the Nazi occupation. Historians and those who enjoy historical case studies will find this book riveting. The fact that the "main character" of the book turns out to be an A-list Hollywood actress is almost an aside. Nevertheless, the book insightfully shows how war affects children and young people for the rest of their lives - emotionally, psychologically, and physically.
Although a huge old movie fan, I've always been a bit lukewarm on Audrey Hepburn - mainly because she is still so prominent. But after reading Barry Paris' biography, I became interested in her wartime experiences. Robert Matzen has written two other books on the World War II histories of Hollywood stars Carole Lombard (who worked tirelessly to support US troops before her death in a plane crash in 1942), and James Stewart (who was a Brigadier General in the US Air Force reserve.) But as a European, and a young girl at the time, Audrey's story is quite different to theirs. Her parents were both Nazi sympathisers; her British father was jailed for treason, while her socialite mother Ella took Audrey back to her native Holland at the start of the war, believing that the Dutch would be spared. This was, of course, a grave mistake, and Ella's beliefs would subsequently undergo a radical transformation. Stuck in the village of Velp where many high-ranking Nazis were based, Audrey's family and neighbours endured attacks from all sides and near starvation. Her uncle, a leading lawyer, was executed as a warning to would-be rebels. But Audrey, Ella and the other villagers became active in the Dutch resistance, led by a doctor at the local hospital. As a teenager, Audrey was often sent to deliver urgent messages to allied forces, and her family briefly harboured a British soldier - all at their own risk. In later life, Audrey was guarded in talking about her experiences but it would ultimately inspire her outstanding humanitarian work. Matzen brings her story powerfully to life, and while her later film career remains in the background, he dramatically reconstructs those days of fear and combat from a civilian's perspective.
If you have ever admired Audrey Hepburn or her movies or just know who she was you will be easily engaged by this book. Until I read Last Hope Island by Lynne Olson I never knew that Audrey Hepburn was a teenager in the German occupied Netherlands during WWII. She mentioned Audrey in her book as one of the peripheral characters that she uses so well to draw in her readers and it made me wonder what her life was like during that time. Robert Matzen has done a nice job of filling in much if not all of her story.
Audrey Hepburn was born to an Englishman and an upper class Dutch woman. Her parents were also Nazi sympathizers, a position her father never gave up and her mother only well after the invasion of her homeland. This personal history made Audrey fairly reticent about many details of her life and through determined research and help from many Dutch survivors he has pieced together much of Audrey's childhood and adolescence. Born in 1929, Audrey was 11 when the Netherlands were invaded. She lived in Arnheim, close to the German border, and although the entire war was difficult the final year from the Market Garden invasion in September 1944 to the end in April 1945 was particularly brutal. Perhaps the author's main theme is that Audrey's experiences in WWII not only never left her but formed her into the person she would become.
This is the story of Audrey Hepburn but it is also a history of what was happening as she was growing up so there are asides in which the history overtakes the story of Audrey's life. It appears to be well documented (the endnotes are extensive as they explain where the author got his information). If you are interested in WWII history and know about Audrey Hepburn you will enjoy this book.
I am an avid fan of Audrey Hepburn films and also of WWII novels, somehow these two subjects fit perfectly into a book. I recently have started to get into WWII from the perspective of other countries rather than what I was just taught in school. The Germans invaded so much of Europe, so much destruction was had through so many lives. I was surprised to learn that Audrey Hepburn had lived what I can not fathom. It truly is a great family historical book and the letter from her son in the beginning showed what kind of heart Audrey had. She is a remarkable woman.
"Baroness Ella van Heemstra stood in the office of Adolph Hitler and offered her hand to the most famous man in the world, the man whose name was on simply everyone's lips."
I thought this was a fascinating read! I'd like to read more books from this author about stars and their war years.
Audrey was in the Netherlands when the Germans invaded. The people naively thought that they would be left alone, just like during WWI. They were terrifyingly wrong.
Most of the book is a history lesson about the era, with Audrey's history fleshed out amidst the facts. Her story is incredible; how she survived is a miracle. Ironically, during the same time frame, a young Jewish girl, Audrey's age, lived not too far away in a hidden part of a building. Anne Frank died in a concentration camp and her diary affected Audrey deeply. Anne's father, Otto, begged Audrey to portray his daughter in the movie, but Audrey couldn't. The pain of practically living through the war again was too hard.
I want to watch all of Audrey's movies now! I'm fascinated by this quiet, shy, compassionate woman who loved children and volunteered for UNICEF because of her years during the war. I would have liked to have met Audrey Hepburn. I've always thought she was so beautiful and graceful.
One of my favorite quotes was from her son:
"How lucky my brother and I were growing up with a present and love mother as opposed to a glamorous but absent movie star. When mother talked about herself and what life taught her, Hollywood was indeed the missing guest.
Thanks to netgalley for the early read!
This is a really enjoyable and well researched book about both Audrey Hepburn's life and also about the occupation of Nazi's. I really enjoyed this novel and learning more about Audrey's life. I will definitely be recommending this book to my friends and world war 2 history buffs!
The book has been marketed as telling the story of Audrey Hepburn's young years during World War II in which she lived in Arnhem, developing her skills as a dancer and working as an agent for the underground. While this is true in parts, it primarily chronicles what life in that town (the town of "a bridge too far") was like for the inhabitants and the transformations wrought by invasion, occupation and liberation. Such devastating affect on Audrey and members of her family was truly immersive, but the author's obvious high regard for Audrey is apparent with every description and episode, imbuing all with a great deal of affection. Her mother's history was remarkable, being enraptured by Hitler, even meeting him in 1935 and being a believer until some time into the occupation. Later in life during interviews as an adult, Audrey didn't talk about this aspect of her family history. In fact, she sublimated a lot of the horror and deprivation and tamped it down inside. That changed in 1946 when she first came across Anne Frank's diary. The similarities she and Anne shared went straight to her heart, and provided her with what became her most important mission later in life, that of the protection and welfare of children via UNICEF. The reader thus comes away with a deeper understanding of why Hepburn projected such empathy especially for children,
However, I found the book on the whole to be quite repetitious in parts and much more of a history than a biography.
Dutch Girl is an emotional book about Audrey Hepburn and her experiences during WWII. It tells about war in a more personal way, as books related to war often is more about mechanics and abstract concepts.
This book deals mainly with Audrey Hepburn's experiences during World War 2 in her native Holland. I love reading World War 2 history, biographies and Hollywood accounts so I expected to love this book and to race through it. The research is very well done and the book deals mainly with actual historical events that did occur such as the battle of Arnhem, the liberations the hostage taking and subsequent murders of Dutch prominent figures as reprisals for sabotage. The book also details the hunger that the Dutch endured towards the end of the war. I enjoyed reading this however I found it difficult to race through the book as I normally do with stories like this. The author I felt made a lot of presumptions on how Audrey perceived events and on how they impacted on her. Also the story felt stretched in places and I found myself skipping sections as I felt I had already read enough to get the gist of what the author was trying to convey. Audreys son Luca writes the foreword and praises the author for his work. I was left with a feeling that the son is looking for answers as to what troubled his mother and that WW2 has been settled upon to answer his questions. There were also comparisons drawn with Anne Frank' sufferings and Audreys which didn't seem appropriate to me.
Having said all that for the research, the look at Dutch history during WW2 through an iconic figure such as Audrey and the account of Audreys very interesting family I give this book 3 stars .
Dutch Girl is really two stories that are related but only occasionally intertwined: the story of Arnhem, Netherlands, during World War Two and the story of young Audrey Hepburn. When the two stories meet, it’s fascinating—Audrey’s secretly dancing in basements to help raise money for the Dutch Resistance, Audrey’s mother’s support for Adolf Hitler, and the death of Audrey’s uncle, a hostage, at the hands of Nazis being mentioned in the Diary of Anne Frank. Very very interesting! I really loved the photographs included in the book (though they are not as easy to appreciate in ebook format). I love Audrey Hepburn because she seemed like such a kind and humble person. I enjoyed learning more about her childhood and the hardships she faced.
Another fascinating book by Robert Matzen, unfortunately the last in his WWII Trilogy. 'Dutch Girl' covers the five years Audrey Hepburn spent in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands. The book is both a gripping history lesson as well as providing Hepburn-fans with a background about her youth and her family, with her mother being a Nazi-sympathizer early on.
Like with Jimmy Stewart (covered in Matzen's 'Mission'), you really fear for her well-being although of course you know she survived all right. Bombs, machine guns, starvation - Hepburn lived the life a lot of Europeans had to endure during WWII.
One of those books you race through, I enjoyed it not quite as much as 'Fireball' about Carole Lombard but this would have been a tall order. All three books by Matzen rank very, very high among my vast collection of film books. Highly recommended!
This book is amazing!! I read it in 2 days and totally loved it!! Robert's research is perfect!! If you are a fan of Audrey Hepburn -- this book is definitely for you!! If you aren't sure -- read this book!! My respect for Audrey has increased tenfold and I'm so thrilled that I was able to read it!! Even if you aren't a fan of Audrey's and you are just a history buff - I think you will still get so much out of this book.
This story was very interesting and I actually learnt so much about WWII from the Dutch perspective. I also never realised the parallels between Audrey's & Anne Frank stories either.
Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this advanced copy in exchange for a honest review.
Audrey Hepburn spoke little of her life during WWII because it caused her such pain. This book gives the reader a historical context into Audrey’s life as well as her family during this time.
Her uncle being killed by the Nazi’s not only a traumatic event for the entire family but was a painful memory that stuck with Audrey for the rest of her life. He was a good man and central to the family. Her mother's history, was remarkable, something I knew little about. Ella was enthralled by Hitler, meeting him in 1935 and being a firm believer until some time after the occupation of the Netherlands when she began to see the brutality of this man. During interviews as an adult, Audrey did not talk about this aspect of her family history understandably, but we can gather from all that Audrey did do that she was not in agreement with her mother’s viewpoints.
My favorite chapter was about Audrey and Anne Frank. Both girls were the same age, living in the same country at the same time, but their lives took drastically different paths. These similarities affected her and guided her with her most valuable mission later in life, that of the protection and welfare of children working with UNICEF. Audrey Hepburn’s youth and young adulthood was impacted by the atrocities she witnessed, giving her the empathy and compassion she had, especially for children,
There was much research into this book, this history of the Netherlands and Hepburn’s family. While it felt more like a history book than a biography, this book is well worth the time if you want to know more about this country and its people during the occupation of the Nazi regime.
Thanks to NetGalley and GoodNight Books for this ARC.
It's an interesting idea, telling the story of part of World War II from the point of view of someone who was growing up in occupied Holland during the War. When the person in question is Audrey Hepburn, it's even more interesting.
Hepburn was 11 when her country was overrun by the Nazis and 16 when it was liberated. During the War she lived first in Arnhem and then in a village outside it. She witnessed first-hand Market Garden, lived in her family's cellar for months, suffered malnutrition, and helped the Dutch Resistance. Her story and the story of the country during the war is compelling and Matzen makes it interesting and moving.
His meticulous research not only makes the book a great addition to history, it also sets the record straight on her activities and those of her family during the War. It's something virtually all other biographers have gotten wrong.
A fascinating recounting of Ms Hepburns wartime experience along with her family's history. A wonderful depiction of life in Holland under the Nazi's and how it affected the famous movie star.
I was excited to see a biography that focused on Audrey Hepburn's early life and experiences relating to World War II. It didn't disappoint. I left the biography with a greater understanding of Audrey Hepburn. It added depth to a woman who is usually just recognized for her career and role as a fashion icon.
Audrey's own words are included in this historical account of her life, and there is an interesting foreword by her son Luca Dotti, who shared his own research with the author.
How World War II impacted Audrey's childhood is clearly explained, and it is fascinating as well as shocking to read. I think it's easy to forget how severely World War II altered the lives of citizens living in Europe. I've read my share of historical books about World War II, but I really appreciated how the history was related to Audrey Hepburn's life.
Audrey's mother was an especially riveting figure to read about, and like all parents had attributes and flaws that impacted her children. I appreciated how honest the author was in portraying Audrey's mother. The good, the bad, and the ugly is shared.
I didn't find this biography dry at all. It's readable, engaging, and surprisingly touching. It is DENSE. This biography is packed with information, and because of that I found it was best read in chunks over a period of several days. Like other reviews have mentioned, this biography isn't for low-key Audrey Hepburn fans. This doesn't focus on the glamorous side of her life. People interested in learning more about Audrey Hepburn's formative years will be satisfied, and leave with a deeper understanding of the actress.
Linda’s Book Obsession Reviews “Dutch Girl” “Audrey Hepburn and World War 11” by Robert Matzen, April 15, 2019
Robert Matzen , Author of “Dutch Girl”; Audrey Hepburn and World War 11″ has written an intriguing and intense biography with tremendous historical background on the life and times of Audrey Hepburn. Most of this centers around the 5 year period that the Nazis occupied The Netherlands. At that time Audrey lived with her mother and family in the Netherlands.
When I decided to read this book, I thought I would be reading more of Audrey Hepburn’s life , and it turns out I read about her Mother’s life. some of her father’s life and her family life, and much information about Germany and World War Two. I would have preferred to read more about Audrey Hepburn’s life.
The information provided by the author was interesting. Audrey had gone to school in England, and did speak English. She treasured dancing, and always wanted to be a ballerina. The five years of German occupation was traumatic and deadly for the Dutch people. Audrey did help as much as she could, and emotionally had the scars from this tragic timeline.
I appreciate that the author describes Audrey as a sympathetic and empathetic person who wants to do good in this world. I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy reading about World War 11 and German History.
You may think you know Hollywood superstar Audrey Hepburn, but this biography is of her early life, about growing up during World War II and the role that living through World War II had over the entire rest of her life.
Ms. Hepburn didn’t like talking about that time, and frankly, who can blame her. She lived through a horrific time in our history. Her father was accused of being a spy and arrested, her mother loved Hitler, meeting him numerous times and also writing about him for a fascist magazine, and her beloved uncle was killed by the Germans. Living under German occupation, she was subjected to bombings by Allied Forces and starvation. She and her family camped out in the cellar, hoping for survival. To go from that type of situation to reigning Hollywood royalty a few years later took a lot of determination and courage. This book is in-depth and detailed, definitely worth the read if you like biographies. You’ll learn a lot of information about Ms. Hepburn and become even more of a fan than you already are. At least I did. A very thought provoking and moving account of a young lady who would become a goddess of the silver screen.
I started out wanting to read this book because an interest in Audrey Hepburn and her connection to The Netherlands, where I was born and now live again, but this book was so much more than a biography.
Besides finding out more about an icon, this book tells the story of a war, of a small area, in a country I grew up in. Of course much time was spent on WWII in school. I remember being moved and touched by documentaries about the war shown during history lessons, the images of stacks of dead people, the horrors of concentration camps are still burnt into my heart, as they should be. In a way, this was a different kind of WWII story. It still brought the horrors of war home, but from the perspective of a small area and the people that lived there.
Through Audrey’s story and the story of her family, we find out what life was life for everyone living through the war; the suffering, the uncertainty, the fear, the hunger.
It all paints a picture of the girl Audrey was and the woman she was to become. Robert Matzen did a great job piecing the facts together with a bit of artistic licence here and there. I think this book is very well written and very coherently tells of a complicated time in history and the effects it had on people. I particularly found Audrey’s mother Ella fascinating character.
This book reiterates the fact that although I do not like reading WWII based fiction, I do really appreciate a well written non-fiction book on the subject and this one showed a different perspective from any other book I have read on WWII. This is not so much a biography as a historical portrait of Arnhem and Velp during the war.
Highly recommended if you are interested in either Audrey Hepburn or WWII.
An intriguing biography of Audrey Hepburn's formative years during WWII. I had absolutely no idea about her family and her work for a member of the Dutch Resistance. The amount of research that must have been carried out is phenomenal, yet the author writes in an accessible manner. If you are expecting lots of detail about her film career, then this is not the book for you, but if you want to learn what made Hepburn such an extraordinary person, then you will find this book fascinating.
Thanks to NetGalley & publishers, GoodKnight Books, for the opportunity to review an ARC.
CEELEE'S REVIEW OF DUTCH GIRL: AUDREY HEPBURN AND WORLD WAR II by Robert Matzen
When I was 10 years old my parents were watching "Breakfast St Tiffany's" while i sat in another part of the room reading a book. I started paying more attention to the movie than my book especially at the end when she and George Peppard were out in the rain on the streets of New York looking for Cat. (I love kitties!). I thought she was amazing and I immediately had a tween girl crush on her! I read all the articles I could find about her in the movie magazines and I know when i got older I read a couple of biographies about her but most of them glossed over her life in general and her childhood in particular. That is why I was so intrigued when I saw the ARC available on NetGaley and I was thrilled when I was picked to read it!
Let me first say this book is not for a casual fan or one who only wants to know about her career in the movies. This is a serious work covering not only her life but also the history that she lived through before and during World War II and how it affected her all her life. If you aren't interested in discussions of the history of the times skip it. If yew want to learn the history that helped shape the lives of people who lived through WWII including Audrey Hepburn then you might find the book both interesting and enlightening. I think learning about the history that a person experienced helps to understand the persons because it contributes to making them who they are.
Audrey's parents were pro-Nazi. Her father was a British agent who betrayed his country and her mother, Ella van Heemstra, who was a social climber, became friends with the Mitford sisters from a British aristocratic family, who influenced her fascism particularly Unity who had become a friend of Adolf Hitler and Ella met him a few times when Audrey was a toddler. In 1937 Ella moved herself and her children to Arnhem in the Netherlands and lived on the family estate there. Audrey was a quiet introverted child who discovered dancing and it became her first love next to her family. She loved reading and animals and the family felt safe in The Netherlands and even after the Nazis came and occupied the town no one believed they would do any harm until things slowly started to change with essential food items becoming unavailable and they faced harsh winters with no heat when coal; was not available to properly heat their homes. . The turning point was when Audrey's uncle Otto was murdered along with four other innocent men, executed as an "example" to the Dutch people. Ann Frank even mentions the murders in her diary. She and Audrey were the same age and lived in different towns not far from each other. After the war she met Ann's father (the only survivor in the family) but she wold never consent to play his daughter in a movie. There is a picture of them together in the book as well as photos of Audrey's family and pl;aces important to her life. Her mother soon changed her mind about Hitler but it was to late and they suffered war on their own doorstep and over their heads. Throughout this Audrey had her dancing and became Arnhem's most famous ballerina. She also worked in the Resistance as an assistant to a doctor.
Audrey never talked about her life at that time much and I can understand why. My father was an ex-POW who was held in a German prison camp for 21 months 1943-45 and he didn't talk much about his experiences either but internalized it like Audrey did and 50 years later he would still wake up screaming. I can only imagine what kind of dreams he had or that Audrey must have had because of her own tragic war experiences.
Author Robert Matzen does talk a lot about the history of WWII in the book which some people might not like for whatever reason but to understand Audrey, or anyone really, as a person there is no way he couldn't talk about it. She was there. She lived it. She was fortunate to have survived and made a success of her life despite it but always had that shadow of the war hanging over her. I find her an extraordinary woman and I am so glad we were able to learn something about her history and it makes me love her even more! I also give tremendous respect to the author for bringing her story to us. Well done!
Many thanks to NetGalley, author Robert Matzen and Paladin Communications publisher for giving me the opportunity to read the fantastic book!
I received an advanced digital copy of this book from the author, Netgalley.com and GoodKnight Books. Thanks to all for the opportunity to read and review.
In the only biography approved by her son, Mr. Matzen has carefully retold the story of Audrey Hepburn's past that she kept very closely hidden. Well written and thoughtful, we met Ms. Hepburn before she met the cameras.
5 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended.
Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II is a fascinating read. The author obviously did extensive research for this book. It was interesting to read Audrey's early years growing up during the Nazi occupation. Especially, reading about her parents. Which I found to be unexpected and surprising. I believe many readers who like to read history would enjoy this book and want to learn more about Audrey Hepburn's life. I give it five stars. Most definitely worth a read.
I received this book from the publisher. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.
I've been a fan of Audrey Hepburn's work since I was very young. I remember growing up with her movies and loving her style. This book isn't the first I've read about her life, not even the first that's touched on her childhood. However, this book provides such a unique perspective.
Before reading this book, I was unaware of the experiences that she'd had during the war. Which made this book incredibly appealing to me.
The depth that this book goes into was incredible. It provides an interesting and honest look into the early life of one of the worlds most loved stars, and the inclusion of photographs adds a whole extra layer.
I found myself falling into this book, wanting to know more and more.
I've always had an interest in wartime experiences, which made this book even more compelling to me, and I was interested in the parallels between Audrey and Anne Frank.
This book gave a lot of information and was written in an interesting way, that kept me turning the pages.
I'd say, even if you've read other books about Audrey's life. This one is definitely worth a read as it goes into areas that a lot of other books hadn't touched.
Audrey Hepburn has always been one of my favorite actress of all time, so I was very eager to read this biographical account of her life after the German invasion and the subsequent course of Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during WWll. She was ten when the war began and 15 when it ended. Her son Luca Dotti wrote the Foreword to this book thanking the author for writing the book. The book is well researched and gives a vivid insight into the personal tragic experiences, near starvation and other horrors she and her family went through during the war. Yet, they were resilient and courageous and were involved with the Dutch Resistance. Audrey became very involved in dance and ballet. She participated in ballet performances in order to help raise money for the Dutch resistance. I highly recommend this book.
Icon. Muse. Activist. We all think we know the story of Hollywood star Audrey Hepburn. But this book, released on April 15th, just weeks before what would have been her 90th birthday, adds fighter, survivor and heroine to that list of superlatives, in this fascinating never before told story of her life during WW2.
Bestselling biographer Robert Matzen goes into great detail in this meticulously researched book. Even Audrey's son, Luca Dotti says the book is a "true gift".
Audrey was a shy and awkward ten year old when the war broke out. She lived her teenage years throughout the war which affected her greatly. But it also gave her empathy and a great understanding to protect children in one of her most satisfying roles, that of a UNICEF ambassador in later life.
During the war in the Dutch town of Velp, she witnessed unbelievable horrors that no young girl should see. Her and her family suffered great malnutrition and risked their lives helping a soldier hide in their home.
This aspiring ballerina who would go on to be an Academy Award winner ate tulip bulbs to survive and helped her local doctor tend to the wounded as bombs flew over head.
105,000 Dutch Jews died at the hands of the Nazi's. One of the most interesting chapters for me was Death Candidate where we are told the story of Audrey's beloved Uncle Otto, who would not survive the war. This is a story of war in all its brutal truth. It just so happens our heroine turns into one of the greatest leading ladies on and off screen we have ever seen. Making her triumphs even more extraordinary.
Thank you Netgalley and Smith Publicity for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen tells the story of a young Audrey Hepburn, more specifally 1940-1945. She lived in the Netherlands during World War 2 and all the struggles that come with it. This book is extremely well researched and in my opinion Matzen has a very good grip of this time period and the Dutch people, it is very accurate (as far as I know, but I do know a lot). This story reminded me a lot of how my grandparents experienced the war, though Audrey has her own very specific challenges. However, this book can be a bit dry because it definitely is non fiction and a lot of facts and names are dropped. But if you are a fan of Audrey or if you are interested in this time period it is definitely worth the read, it is very interesting.
Dutch Girl Audrey Hepburn And World War II by Robert Matzen is a comprehensive account of Audrey Hepburn’s teenage years in the Netherlands during WWII. It also touches on her life up until her death in 1993 aged just 63 years from abdominal cancer – a cruel end for a beautiful lady who gave so much.
Audrey Hepburn was ‘emotionally wounded’ by WWII saying, “It was worse than you could ever imagine.” Consequently her whole life was lived in its shadow. She involved herself in UNICEF and the plight of suffering children due to her experiences in the war.
Not only did the war years shape Audrey Hepburn but her love of dancing did. “I wanted to be Margot Fonteyn.” Audrey Hepburn gave concerts to raise money for the resistance. Following the war she ‘stumbled into acting.’
The war made the teenager into the woman we see on screen. She was incredibly brave and saw things no one should have to see. The faces of the Jewish men, women and children as they were herded into cattle cars would haunt her forever.
We see the elegant, beautiful woman on screen but Audrey Hepburn thought she was ugly and ungainly with large hands and feet as a teen. Her poise and beauty are what I remember Audrey Hepburn for – and none more so than her transformation in My Fair Lady.
Robert Matzen has produced an excellent account of both WWII in the Netherlands and Audrey Hepburn’s part in it. As a historian it was both fascinating and horrifying. As a fan of Audrey Hepburn I admire her even more after reading this book. Audrey Hepburn was so much more than just a beautiful face – she was incredibly brave and full of compassion. Thank you Robert Matzen for opening my eyes to the brave and very beautiful Audrey Hepburn. Thank you also for showing the true picture of WWII. We owe it to the six million innocents to keep their memory alive.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.
I have always loved Audrey Hepburn's films. She just shines on the screen...so beautiful, so poised and talented. I learned years ago about her charitable work through UNICEF. She was a kind and giving person, as well as intelligent and talented. This book talks about Audrey's life before Hollywood...the years she lived under the Nazi occupation of Holland.
I never realized how much she went through during World War II in the Netherlands. My respect for her has increased so much since I finished reading this book. She worked as a doctor's assistant, witnessed brutality, hunger and death, and survived it all. This book is not about Audrey as an actress....it is about her life prior to all of that. Her film career is mentioned only in passing. This book is about Audrey's years growing up during the war and how those experiences shaped who she became as an adult. Her life is so much more than her Hollywood career!!
This is the first book by Robert Matzen that I've read. He has also written books about Carole Lombard, Jimmy Stewart and Mulholland Farm...an infamous house owned by Errol Flynn. I'm definitely going to read his other books, starting with the one about Jimmy Stewart's war service: Mission (on my TBR shelf already).
**I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from GoodKnight Books via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
4 1/2 stars
After about 10% into Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II by Robert Matzen I was beginning to regret asking to read this novel as the Audrey Hepburn's ancestral background felt as if it might doom me to everlasting sleep. But then things began to pick up and there was war, which sounds horrible, but that's what we're here for, so, oh well.
Matzen does an excellent job of weaving war history with Hepburn's. The reader cares not only about Hepburn but also those civilians around her, just trying to get by. We are devastated when her beloved Uncle Otto, one of the father figures in her life, is slaughtered as an act of German retribution. We enjoy her dance triumphs and then live through the months of starvation, watch as neighbors are killed, allied soldiers who were supposed to be saviors die. We feel the horror of war as experienced by someone most of us have seen in a movie. We try to imagine that woman, the one who strummed the guitar and sang Moon River as this girl who helped doctors who were part of a resistance, and then find, yes, we can believe that she would be that girl.
While I was not always a fan of Matzen's non-linear story-telling, I could appreciate his intentions. I felt that this was more for the Hepburn's fans, those who needed the Hollywood tie-in, those reading just for another glimpse of the actress than for readers interested in the war and how it affected her. However, her comments on her preceding years were interesting. I could also completely understand her shutting down interviews when they wanted to delve into her personal life.
What I came away with was not only how Hepburn was affected, it's life-long toll on her, but how completely devastating war is to all of its participants. Matzen vividly portrayed the months of starvation, the cold, the desperation, the feeling of sadness that the original liberators did not liberate. The terror of the allied bombs that would unintentionally kill civilians. The daily fear that the Germans' last line of defense, the V1 rockets would ultimately rain down upon the town because of their defects.
I also came away with the knowledge that there have always been judgy individuals trying to find fault with others, even ones like Hepburn, who exuded goodness and fairness and always tried to do the right thing. Hepburn was and always will be a role model for the best of humanity.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This stunning biography details Audrey Hepburn’s years as a teenager during the Nazi occupation of Holland in World War II. It is a targeted biography that mentions her life before and after the war, but the main focus was her horrific experiences during the war that shaped her life. One of the biggest influences during this time was the killing of her uncle and cousin by the Nazi’s. Another was her complicated relationship with her mother and father – both early sympathizers of the Nazi regime. She fell in love with ballet before the occupation – it gave her a freedom of expression and she performed locally in Holland before, during and after the war. She performed for allied soldiers in secret for the Resistance as well as delivering newsletters and food to the soldiers as an assistant to the local physician. The book went into great detail of the battles between Allied and German forces that took place in and around her home in Velp. She and her family took shelter in their cellar where she suffered severe malnutrition as well as enduring the trauma of constant battle. After the war, one of the highlights in the book detailed Audrey Hepburn’s reaction to the Diary of Anne Frank – they were both the same age at the same time in Holland. The book devastated Audrey and when asked to play Anne in a movie, she declined the role as well as other offers due to the extreme pain of that time period. The war experience shaped her life forever and contributed to Audrey’s later work with UNICEF – helping children throughout the world facing hunger and disease. It was interesting that she starting acting in order to finance her ballet lessons after the war ended – she kind of fell into acting and never considered herself to be a great actress. After reading this biography, I have a greater understanding and appreciation for her vulnerability as an artist and activist – a deeper appreciation for the complex person she was.
I received my digital complimentary copy of Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen courtesy of GoodKnight Books and NetGalley
"Dutch Girl" by Robert Matzen was a truly fascinating biography of Audrey Hepburn before she became the actress and activist that we know and love. Many know about her talents, gracefulness and philanthropy - but not much is documented of her upbringing. "Dutch Girl," chronicles the experiences of one small Dutch town during the Nazi occupation. Not only was in informative, but also beautifully written. We learn about her interesting family dynamics, and how her mother got swept into the glamor of Nazi politics. Whether you are a fan of Audrey Hepburn or World War II, you will love this biography!
An impressive feat by Robert Matzen to set the record straight about Audrey’s life during World War II and the events that led up to it.
Good points: Audrey’s early life in detail. Her personal experiences in wartime is harrowing to read. Ella’s (Audrey’s mother) movements prior to the war was eye-opening. Stories about her other relatives were enjoyable.
There were a few things that bothered me. The many and varied titles of nobility got rather confusing as I continued onto the story. Could not help but wished the author stuck to everyone’s first names for clarity. And details of the war can get very technical? I felt very out of depth.
All in all, reading this book made me understand a lot about her. For that I am grateful.
It was a privilege to review the biography “Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II” by Robert Matzen. Audrey Hepburn was a screen star admired by many for her transcendent talent, and someone admired in her private life for doing much good for worthy causes like UNICEF.
After reading this biography, however, I had even more reason to admire her. Did you know that she spent five years of her life—ages 10-15—in Nazi-occupied Holland, was a part of the Dutch Resistance even at that young age, starved along with the rest of that oppressed country, and was forever shaped by those experiences? This book explores those years. And, it is fitting it has been published not long before May 5 which would have been her 90th birthday had she lived. (Hepburn died at age 63. And, yes, her wartime experiences did contribute to that early demise.)
Hepburn was born to an English father, and a titled Dutch mother from a prestigious and influential family in that country. In the 1930s, her parents were duped—as many were—into having Nazi sympathies. ( Her mother during the war, however, becomes a supporter of the Dutch Resistance and the Allies, and at the close of the war is exonerated from charges of being a Nazi sympathizer.). Her father abandons her family, and Audrey at a young age moves back to Holland from England. Her family is devastated when a beloved uncle is executed by the Nazis, her half brother goes into hiding to avoid being conscripted by the Nazis, and she finds refuge in her love of ballet.
During the war, she even uses her skills as a rising ballet star to raise funds for the Dutch resistance. Through a network of doctors at the local hospital who are secretly active in the Dutch Resistance, she begins—in her early teens—carrying food and messages to downed Allied fighter pilots and Jews being hidden by the local people. She also survives the bloody Battle of Arnhem, helping to tend those who are wounded. When her small town becomes the focal point of battle, she is exposed to war at its worst. Then, during the 1944 “Hunger Winter,” food supplies are cut off and she, along with the rest of her community, suffer severe malnutrition.
The book is very well researched and documented. And is riveting reading. Here are some interesting passages:
Quote from the author about his research and the writing of the book:
“Context is everything in Audrey Hepburn’s war story, so I’ve described the times and the history that surrounded the subject. I was able to locate more than 6,000 words spoken by Audrey about World War II, and in the end I plugged them into the story of the war and the part the Netherlands played in it. And, son of a gun, her quotes made sense, including all those stories she told about the Resistance. In some ways it’s a miracle Audrey Hepburn made it out of the war alive; in all ways this is the tale of a remarkable survivor who would go on to become a hero for the ages.”
About what Audrey had in common with Anne Frank:
“New York, New York June 2, 1952
“I didn’t know what I was going to read,” said Audrey. “I’ve never been the same again.” She had first run into Anne Frank quite by accident in 1946. No, it wasn’t an accident, not the way it turned out. It was fate—there was no other explanation—that she and Ella had left Velp and were living in Amsterdam below the apartment of a publishing house employee who was working on this soon-to-be released, strange wartime dagboek, or diary, of a young Jewish girl. It carried the title Het Achterhuis, translated literally as ‘the house behind,’ with an official translation of The Secret Annex. The editor knew of Audrey’s wartime experiences and saw some similarities between the manuscript she worked with day by day and what she had heard from the van Heemstras. She said of the manuscript that Audrey “might find it interesting.” Oh, that didn’t begin to capture the reaction of seventeen-year-old Audrey Hepburn-Ruston to the power of the entries of her contemporary, Anne Frank. They were written in Dutch by Anne to a fictional friend named Kitty.
The Frank family, including Anne’s father Otto, mother Edith, and sister Margo, had fled their Frankfurt, Germany, home in 1933 after Hitler’s ascension to power. Anne was four years old when the Franks began a new life in Amsterdam. Her father ran a successful business until after the German occupation, and when Margo Frank received a summons to appear before the Nazis in July 1942, the family went into hiding. Anne’s diary described their experiences as onderduikers living in a secret part of her father’s building from 1942 to ’44.
“There were floods of tears,” Audrey said of that first encounter with the writing of Anne Frank. “I became hysterical.” As a resident of Amsterdam, she had been so moved that she became one of the first pilgrims to Prinsengracht 263 to experience the secret annex. Now here it was, six crazy years later. Audrey no longer lived in a one-room flat in Amsterdam; she had just completed the run of Gigi on Broadway, U.S.A., and now ran around her New York apartment packing for a trip to Rome where she would begin production of William Wyler’s Roman Holiday.
This Dutch girl, the one who was a dancer and couldn’t act, the one who didn’t like her looks, had taken Broadway by storm. Everywhere she went in America, people fell in love with her unusual looks and quiet, humble manner. With the performances, social engagements, interviews, photo shoots, and appearances associated with a successful Broadway show, there would be times her mind shook free of memories of the war. But all that changed in a heartbeat today.
Today she learned that the American edition of Het Achterhuis was about to be released. For U.S. audiences it had been retitled Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, and former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt had been so impressed with it that she had agreed to write an introduction that would prepare readers for the impact of what they were about to experience.
Hearing about the release of Anne Frank’ s diary knocked Audrey for a loop all over again, bringing back all the connections that one teenager’s words had made for the other. Audrey and Anne were two dark-haired Dutch girls who had been born in countries other than the Netherlands. They were less than six weeks apart in age—Audrey born 4 May 1929 and Anne 12 June 1929. Ella’s birthday was also 12 June. Separated by a distance of just 60 miles, Audrey and Anne had experienced the same war with all its milestones, from German occupation to the battles for Britain and Russia to the bombing of Berlin to D-Day—as followed by both girls with their families on Radio Oranje. They experienced the same Nazis in all their brutality. And Anne had even known of and commented upon the executions in Goirle when she wrote from the Franks’ hidden rooms: “Prominent citizens—innocent people—are thrown into prison to await their fate. If the saboteur can’t be traced, the Gestapo simply put about five hostages against the wall. Announcements of their deaths appear in the papers frequently. These outrages are described as ‘fatal accidents.’ “
A quote in the book from Audrey about what she saw during the war:
“In interviews later in life she recalled time and again the horror of what she witnessed in Arnhem: “I saw families with little children, with babies, herded into meat wagons—trains of big wooden vans with just a little slat open at the top and all those faces peering out at you. And on the platform were soldiers herding more Jewish families with their poor little bundles and small children. There would be families together and they would separate them, saying, ‘The men go there and the women go there.’ Then they would take the babies and put them in another van.”
About the Hunger Winter:
““I went as long as three days without food,” said Audrey of life in the first quarter of 1945, “and most of the time we existed on starvation rations. For months, breakfast was hot water and one slice of bread made from brown beans. Broth for lunch was made with one potato and there was no milk, sugar, cereals or meat of any kind.”
It was now more than four years since Audrey or any of the van Heemstras had enjoyed a full meal unaffected by rationing and shortages. Up until Market Garden, times were lean and stomachs always rumbled. After the one-two punch of a failed invasion and the railroad strike, the country’s food supply dwindled to nothing. Now, four full months later, Audrey and her family were suffering horribly from malnutrition.
One official report said that by February 1945, more than 500 Dutch people were dying of hunger each week. Across the Netherlands, but particularly in the west, people were succumbing at such a rapid rate that morticians couldn’t keep up.”
About her work as a UNICEF ambassador and her death (Luca and Sean are her son’s’ names):
““When my mother wanted to teach me a lesson about life,” said Luca Dotti, “she never used stories about her career. She always told stories about the war. The war was very, very important to her. It made her who she was.”
Audrey spent her last four years of life on the road as an ambassador for UNICEF, trying with her five-foot-seven frame that barely cracked a hundred pounds to will a planet of vengeful adults away from starting wars, because those wars create powerless victims in the children. She knew all about it.
Audrey came back from Ethiopia, Venezuela, and Ecuador in 1988; from Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Mexico, the Sudan, and Thailand in 1989; from Vietnam in 1990 and Somalia in 1992 with her heart broken after every journey through barren, contested lands where children were starving. Or dying. Or already dead. She bled for them on the inside until she couldn’t live with the pain anymore.
In an interview with Audrey’s friend, Anna Cataldi, Barry Paris documented a telling moment from October 1992 in Nairobi. Cataldi visited Hepburn to say goodbye after they had been in Somalia at the same time, Audrey for UNICEF and Cataldi on a magazine assignment. “When I hugged her, I was scared,” Paris quoted Cataldi as saying. “I had a shiver. She [Audrey] said, ‘War didn’t kill me, and this won’t either.’ But I had the feeling that sooner or later, war kills you. She was so skinny. I felt something was really wrong.” Cataldi said that Audrey mentioned she was having nightmares about the dead children of Somalia, and couldn’t sleep, and was crying all the time. “She had seen a lot of terrible things with UNICEF, but she broke in Somalia,” was Cataldi’s conclusion.
Luca said that unlike every other mission, where she had found beauty in the children, “When she came back from the Somalia trip, she was devastated. Totally devastated. Hopeless.”
And her health was failing fast. “She wasn’t feeling well,” said Sean. “At first she felt tired. Then we all thought for quite a while that she had caught a bug in Somalia, maybe some intestinal flu or some complicated disease.”
The work on behalf of UNICEF that had been inspired—no, demanded—by the years in Arnhem and Velp attacked her insides as ferociously as the malnutrition and binges and diets plagued a girl who after all she had endured could never again master the simple task of eating. As sure as if a Nazi bullet had finally tracked her down, World War II claimed this woman who had cheated death in the Netherlands time and again. The date was 20 January 1993. At the age of just sixty-three, when she should have been vital and happy, enjoying the love of her life, her “Robbie” in their Swiss hideaway and delighting in sons Sean and Luca—both now adults—the war caught up and took Audrey Hepburn in a matter of weeks. The cause of death: abdominal cancer.”
I highly recommend this inspiring biography and thank Goodknight Books and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader’s Copy of the book and for allowing me to review it.
This book drew my interest as a fan of Audrey Hepburn, however, after reading it, I'm even more impressed by the person that she was and what she overcame. Written with the approval of her son, this book delves into Audrey's childhood and life during World War 2. As a child in the Netherlands, Nazi occupation and fear of Hitler was enormous.
Well researched and difficult to read at times, this book gives insight as to why Hepburn became such a vocal advocate for UNICEF and why she seemed so caring and selfless.
Hollywood isn't mentioned as this is based upon Hepburn's youth but it is well worth the read for historical significance.
I received an Advance Review Copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
The best book I have read in a while and a must to write a review on is the well-researched biography “Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II” by Robert Matzen. Audrey Hepburn was a screen star adored by many including me for her awe-inspiring talent, and someone admired in her private life for doing much good for worthy causes like UNICEF.
After reading this biography, however, one cannot help but, admire her. Did you know that she spent five years of her life—ages 10-15—in Nazi-occupied Holland, and was a part of the Dutch Resistance even at that young age, starved along with the rest of that oppressed country, and was forever shaped by those experiences? This book explores those years. And, it is fitting it has been published not long before May 5 which would have been her 90th birthday had she lived. (Hepburn died at age 63.
I would like to thank NetGalley for the opportunity to review this great biography and a book on the history and effects of World War 11 and Holland.
Audrey Hepburn is such an iconic actress and I've seen so many of her films multiple times. Outside of her films though I didn't know much about her life, especially as a young woman growing up during WWII in Europe. This biography from Robert Matzen is a fascinating read if you're interested in her life. I learned so much about her and I can definitely say that I have a newfound respect for her knowing what she went through. 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.
I so enjoyed this book and her story. I knew that she had experienced the war and it affected her but not to the extent of what I read. So much so many scared and then to live as long as she did and make a life for herself!! I will read the other books from this persn!!
I didn’t know much about Audrey Hepburn, aside from her movies. This was a fascinating work. It makes me want to learn more about the rest of her history. I am fascinated by this time period, but knew nothing about what happened in this area.
All Audrey Hepburn fans this is it !
But don't expect to find this book.full of fab,Hollywood,glamour shots,This book is a down and dirty,telling all about her early life as a survivor of WWll.
She suffered starvation and deprivation along with her mother,mothers family.and the rest of the tightly knit Dutch community.
She did make it to Hollywood,after the war,but it wasn't her first choice,she wanted to be a ballet dancer.
She did many interviews,over the yrs.but,never answered any questions about the War or her private life,She considered those questions,off limits.
She retired from Hollywood,after 27 yrs.I'n the business to raise her two sons.She lived an enjoyable life,after all the glamour yrs.by keeping up with her gardening and the antics of her sons.
She died at the age of 63 due to stomach cancer.
I want to thank NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review "Dutch Girl" by author Robert Matzen.
I have been a fan of Audrey Hepburn's movies since I was in high school. No matter what "level" of fan you are, this is great book for you to pick up.
It's great to learn about not only her personal history, but also about where she comes from familial wise.
If you're looking for a biography that delves into the glamour and glitz of being a world-acclaimed actress, this could be disappointing as very little of the content is dedicated to that side of Audrey Hepburn's life. However, those who want to read an absolutely fascinating account of the real life of Hepburn will find it here. Just as the events of the second world war were to fashion and permeate a large percentage of her life, we are led to feel the effects of the harrowing times that the child and teenager was to suffer.
Not only does this enlighten me as to what life must truly have been like for the frustrated young aspiring dancer, but it provided me with a deeper knowledge of what the Occupation meant for the Dutch citizens and just how terrifying those days must have been.
As Matzen states, Hepburn was a remarkable survivor and her later work with Unicef was further proof of this. There were obviously many sufferers and survivors from the second world war but somehow this account really reached out to me.
Thank you to NetGalley and GoodKnight Books for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
I found this account of Audrey Hepburn's early years in Nazi occupied Netherlands riveting. It gives new depth to this actress that I have long admired. It balances the terrors of the war with her emerging love for dance and performance. Her family was not untouched by the brutality of war, but this taught the young Hepburn an appreciation of life that she carried with her beyond those difficult years. This book was well researched and a gripping read. I will definitely look for the companion titles about Jimmy Stewart and Carol Lombard and their war experiences.
I was glad to read the Introduction by Audrey Hepburn’s son, giving the book - & author - his warm approval. So often biographies can seem unfair, written without the subject having a chance to correct anything. Add to that, this has been written in a very ‘readable’ style – again not always the case with biographies & histories – another plus point, before I had even read very far. This would have proved a fascinating story to read even if the subject was not a ‘celebrity’. In fact I have always admired Audrey Hepburn, since (unwittingly!) purchasing an oil painting of her when I was a teenager. Someone later told me they thought it was of her, in the lead role in ‘The Nun’s Story’. So then I had to buy the book – which I loved - & many years later finally saw the film. Many people have been struck – just as I was – on looking at the painting : it really ‘speaks’ to us. This is one very special lady, & this book allows us to understand some of what she went through to make her who she was. I also found this a most interesting read from a war history point of view : I have read a lot about the Second World War, & did see ‘A Bridge Too Far’ when it first came out, but really had no idea of what it was actually like to have lived through the experience. This book took me there, as if I had been a part of it. I don’t want to spoil the story for other potential readers, but I would say I can totally recommend it - & I will certainly be looking for the author’s other books...
A fascinating biography of Audrey Hepburn. From her birth to death her life was filled with adventure. Five years of Nazi occupation in the Netherlands, Arnhem's most famous ballerina and on to her work as an actress and a UNICEF ambassador. Audrey Hepburn exemplified one who rises above all troubles and is a wonderful example for everyone.
Once again I would like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a Kindle version of this book to read and impartially review.
Warning - Spoiler Alert
Though i have to confess it is quite difficult to review this excellent book without giving away spoilers for my fellow readers. Almost everyone knows Audrey Hepburn the famous film star, model and UNICEF Ambassador, but this story concentrates on her early years particularly 11 to 15 in War torn Netherlands. Her Mother and English Father were initially Nazi supporters, she wrote propaganda articles for British fascist magazines, and her Father was detained in prison during the war for his pro German beliefs. When war looked imminent her Mother recalled Audrey from school in England to the Netherlands as she believed that as in the First World War, the Germans would respect their neutrality, so Audrey the would be Ballet Dancer spent the majority of the War with her family in a small town not far from Arnhem. Yes that Arnhem of a Bridge to Far fame. This is the story of a brave compassionate girl who suffered the horrors of War at close quarters, the danger of imminent death from both sides, food shortages, and all while volunteering at the local hospital, and aiding the resistance where she could but so much more that i cannot reveal without further spoilers.
This is a fascinating meticulously researched book, well written and so descriptive you feel a part of the story that is as good a fiction.
Audrey Hepburn was terrified. The teenage girl was returning from delivering a message to an Allied airman when she saw German soldiers coming towards her. She knew that she would not only be asked for her identity, but also what she was doing. This required fast thinking. Audrey started picking wildflowers, smiled sweetly at the soldiers, and told them that she was taking the flowers home.
This is just one of the many tales tells in this exciting, but extremely harrowing book about Audrey Hepburn’s time in the war. Although the star was quite a heroine, the war affected her so badly that she didn’t want to talk about it so she kept it mostly secret except from her sons. Also, her aristocratic mother was once a fan of Fascism and even met Hitler, misguided by her Irish husband, Audrey’s dissolute father. Her mother saw the light quite quickly, however, once the Nazis invaded Holland.
Although Audrey did manage to establish a fledgling ballet career during the war, she had a terrible time. Her beloved uncle was taken hostage and shot. She saw her older brother dragged to a Nazi camp and Jews taken away on the cattle trains. She lived in Velp near Arnhem and towards the end of the war, people were suffering from malnutrition, including Audrey herself. The war raged around them and they turned to despair when the Battle of Arnhem was lost. Audrey once said: ‘Don’t discount anything you see or hear about the Nazis’. She said that: ‘It was worse than you could ever imagine. She was once helped by UNICEF and never forgot it – this led to her becoming an ambassador for the organisation.
During this dreadful time, Audrey and her mother helped a doctor who worked for the Resistance, Audrey delivered a Resistance newspaper, and her family even hid an Allied airman! She also helped to raise funds for the Resistance.
This is a well-researched story which reads like a novel and might make people see the wonderful star in a different light. The only point that I would quibble at is that seems to give the impression that all of the Mitford sisters were pro-Nazi. Nancy was very much for the Allied cause and Jessica became a Communist and ran away to America.
I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.
I normally read fiction and lots of nonfiction doesn't pull me in. I found this book easy to pull you in. It was very informative and written well. I love how at the end the author went chapter by chapter explaining how the information was found. Overall a great book.
Since Audrey Hepburn’s passing many new biographies around her life and legacy have come out. It is in this book by Robert Matzen that I feel he has introduced a facet to her story that most would not believe. It was one of the reasons that I enjoyed this book so much that followed with support from her immediate family namely her sons. Audrey’s son Luca Dotti wrote a preface for the book and describes recollections his mother would tell him and his brother on her experience in the second world war. Through these recollections in which Matzen elaborates on creates a vivid picture of a young girl in the Netherlands and her immediate experience in World War II namely participation in the Dutch resistance. By looking further into her family history we find out young Audrey utilized her creative nature to survive, and assist in relaying information and supplies during Nazi occupation. It is to note that most of this information was received for the first time as many resources in this area have not been translated into English. Matzen did a superb job at looking at the inner-psychological impact the war had on Audrey Hepburn. As a casual reader to Audrey Hepburn’s life, this was an open window of information and showed an aspect of her personality only spoken of which related to her childhood upbringing and relationship with her mother and father. Matzen explores this relationship and the impact it had on her life and interpersonal relationships. In this novel do you learn of Audrey’s parent's involvement as a Nazi agent and Nazi sympathizer and the experience she had dealing with this information as she lived. Overall the novel examines not only the Hollywood actress featured in Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Sabrina but a woman who lived through one of the global atrocities of the early 20th century. It is a story of resiliency and one that should be read if you are a fan of this woman and want more information to her experience pre-Hollywood. I highly recommend seeing the photos featured for many were from Audrey’s personal collection and were published for the first time. I give this novel 4 out of 5 stars.
Really interesting non-fiction book regarding young Audrey Hepburn and her family during WWII. Packed with details.
An interesting read with new insights to Audrey Hepburn that I was not familiar with. The book has clean and easy to follow writing. Though I could not seem to really immerse myself in this book, perhaps it's because this is not my usual genre (and thereby not a fault of author's). I would definitely recommend this to a friend.
I was fortunate to do a blog tour of this book on my blog at januarygray.net Very amazing woman! It was nice learning more about her than just the Hollywood glam side.
I spent a lot of afternoons watching movies with my best friend growing up, and one of our favorite screen stars was Audrey Hepburn. I can't count the number of times we saw Roman Holiday, Charade, and Breakfast at Tiffany's? Audrey Hepburn was the quintessential Holly Golightly. So when I saw that a book about her life during World War II had been written, I was really excited to read it, especially when I realized I knew nothing about Audrey Hepburn's off-screen life.
Robert Matzen has written a biography that focuses mainly on Audrey Hepburn life during the Second World War when she was living under Nazi occupation in Holland, with her Dutch family on her mother's side. Hepburn was only 11 years old when the Nazis invaded, and it would understandably have a deep impact on her. In fact, all through her adult life, Audrey was haunted by what much of what she witnessed and experienced during WWII.
Audrey was born in 1929 to a Dutch mother, Ella, Baroness van Heemstra and a German/English father, Joseph Ruston, but money problems soon meant Ruston would be gone a largely absent father. Audrey, her mother, and two stepbrothers, Alex and Ian, found themselves living in Arnhem with her Opa, Baron van Heemstra and his wife. Then, in the early 1930s, both Joseph and Ella fell under the influence of Sir Oswald Mosley, head of the British Union of Fascists, and both parents became strong supporters of Hitler. In fact, Ella wrote two published articles in support of National Socialism, she even attended the 1935 Nuremberg rally, and is present in a photo with Hitler and others at Nazi headquarters in Munich.
But after the Nazis defeated the Dutch in 1940 and began occupying Holland, life changed for everyone. With her country under siege, and life getting more and more difficult, Audrey threw herself into ballet. She had begun ballet while in school in London, and it remained her greatest passion throughout her life. Though her first performances as a ballerina were for German audiences, Audrey later used her increasing dance skill to raise money for the Dutch Resistance, evenings referred to as zwarte avonden or black evenings. She spent much of her time volunteering for Dr. Visser't Hooft, a leader in the Dutch Resistance, at his hospital It was he who encouraged her dancing in service of the resistance.
But Audrey's life during WWII wasn't all about dance. She took the death of her beloved Uncle Otto van Limburg Stirum, executed by firing squad with four other men in retaliation for resistance activities, very hard. Witnessing the Nazi's cruel treatment of Dutch Jews, and later their mass deportation was also seared in her memory. But it was the deprivation and starvation of the last year of the war, the Hunger Winter, that seems to have had the greatest impact on Audrey physically as well as mentally and influenced her relationship with food for the rest of her life, and perhaps even her decision to serve as a representative for UNICEF, the United Nations organization that provides world-wide emergency food and healthcare to children.
Matzen has written an intense, exciting biography of Audrey Hepburn. Interestingly, he has interspersed chapters about her later life as it relates to WWII. It appears that Audrey never quite reconciled her parents support of Hitler and National Socialism, but there was an unspoken agreement between mother and daughter to never speak of it in public, though she lived in fear that it would be discovered.
But Dutch Girl is more than just Audrey Hepburn's wartime experience. It is a very well-researched history of World War II, as it relates to the Netherlands. Holland was a peace-loving country that was traumatized by constant dogfights in the air between Allied and German pilots, heavy bombing and towards the end of the war, the particularly destructive V1 and V2 bombs meant for England but landing in Holland when they malfunctioned. And although Hitler thought the Dutch were Germany's Aryan cousins, as things intensified, they were treated with more and more cruelty.
Included in Dutch Girl are extensive photographs, maps, Chapter Notes, and Selected Bibliography.
On a personal note, I found Dutch Girl to be especially valuable because of my interest in the impact of war on children, part of the reason I began this blog in the first place. I was really glad Matzen included the chapters about Audrey Hepburn's life after the war, often quoting her. I could see the impact of WWII on her young life in a way that fiction often doesn't provide. It is very well written and organized, and I found I could not put this book down once I began reading it.
Dutch Girl is, I think, a book that will appeal to people interested in WWII history, more so that those who simply might be looking for a book about the glamorous life of a movie star.
This book is recommended for readers age 17+
This book was provided to me for purposes of review.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.