For movie fans, Audrey Hepburn is one of the most stunningly beautiful and iconic film stars, but very few know the truth about the darkest years of her life, while the war raged on in Europe. This week we’re taking a look at a release that sheds some light on Audrey Hepburn’s early years from childhood to her escape to the bright lights of Hollywood in Robert Matzen’s new book Dutch Girl: Audrey and World War II.
The Story: The time is Great Depression Era Europe. In a world torn by poverty, a rising Adolf Hitler promised peace and prosperity. Like many of the German people attracted to the promises of fascism, Baroness Ella van Heemstra is drawn to the Fuhrer’s ideas of grandeur – especially if it means a better life for her and her small family. Little Adriaantje is completely unaware of her mother’s Nazi ties when she is sent away to live with her grandparents to avoid the madness of the city, though as her parents become embroiled in the fascist network and times grow darker, it is hard for any of the children to avoid this truth. Even the Baroness realizes that the allure of the Nazi party may hide something much darker, leading the family to escape to the country. What follows during the next few years will change little Adriaantje into a survivor and a young woman that Audrey Hepburn will never leave behind.
My Thoughts: I am personally a big fan of old Hollywood. While I usually am not fascinated by the lives of those who populate the silver screen, the retro era of classic films contained a whole host of ladies and gentlemen who survived historic events, served in wars, and experienced a turmoil completely separate from the giddy temptations of LA’s movie business. Audrey Hepburn, as previously stated, is one of Hollywood’s best remembered actresses and the story of where she came from is just as fascinating as her filmography. It was intriguing to learn more about the family that Audrey came from, especially as I was completely unaware of the fact that she was German and/or connected with the Nazi party in any way. Her performances in order to raise money for the Dutch Resistance only barely skim the surface of the events that made a little girl into a generous woman.
Parental Advisories: This book is fairly clean, although there is an occasional quote in which a historical figure will cuss. Overall, this is clean and well written read that any parent should feel confident handing off to a competent reader.