Thursday, 19 January 2017

Book Review of Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit

One of my main goals this year is to read more, and I can definitely say I'm doing well so far. I challenged myself to complete the Popsugar challenge, as discussed here. Already I've finished one book, Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit by Sean Hepburn Ferrer. I've also completed a childhood favourite, The tales of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, started re-reading a favourite book by Jacqueline Wilson - Girls under pressure, yesterday I finished Jane Eyre and have also enjoyed listening to the audiobook, Fool me once by Harlan Coben. This means that I predict I will read more in this month than I did last year alone! Onto the first book I finished and what I thought...


















As stated in my recent wishlist, I was desperate to read Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit. For those who don't know I greatly admire so much about Audrey Hepburn from her talent for acting, her elegance, her amazing charity work for UNICEF, her inspirational words and just all the things she achieved in the small life she had.

Scenes from Funny Face (pictures in book)


































I find it harder in a way to describe how great this book is because I care more than a typical novel. I have never read a biography either; if I want to know about someone I'd rather read it in their own words. When I was a teenager I read a lot of autobiographies. My favourites were from Julie Walters, Paul O'Grady and Michael Parkinson (probably not the typical books a teen would be reading). However considering Audrey Hepburn didn't want to write an autobiography and died three months after I was born, I knew I couldn't read an autobiography from her. That being said, I was impressed to hear her oldest son, Sean wrote a biography about her. Who better to discuss her life than someone who loved her the most and knew her their entire life?

I think if there really is a heaven, Audrey would be looking down; she'd be proud of the way her son went about illustrating her life. The book was filled with just as many pictures as words, so much so that it almost felt like he was showing a member of the family the pictures. I honestly learnt so much about her too. I learnt that she wasn't just a typical celebrity doing charity work; she genuinely cared and went out of her way to help. Children she met were moved; Sean details stories of children who were transfixed by her, or children she hugged and held. Most fascinatingly of all, Audrey had a difficult start to life and dealt with malnutrition during the war; she knew best of all what it must be like. UNICEF was actually a charity who helped her, and she strongly believed in helping them to continue the support they provide. She was the best ambassador they could have! I was near tears reading some of the speeches she gave that featured in the book. She was incredible and inspirational, and almost without trying. Making a difference with such ease!

Somalia 1992 (powerful picture from book)


















The book also featured recipes to her favourite dishes, discussed wise motherly advice Audrey gave to her sons and even quotes she appreciated.

Of course, the book also did what every book did and described her life in all - childhood to adult, and even described how she dealt with her illness and the days leading to her death. I don't want to go too much into that as I feel I might give something away, and spoil the book for you.

The one downfall of a son writing a biography can be that it isn't critical. It won't describe personal weaknesses of the well-known actress, but then again he says that early on. There were no scandals about Audrey Hepburn, so why would he create them? If you hope to hear juicy details about her divorces, you won't. Some harder issues are brushed over, but it doesn't stop the book being a favourite biography; one that I'm proud to have read and one that makes me feel like a better person for reading. How many books can genuinely say they've done that?

Instead of focusing on what you might feel you've missed, I will focus on the good. It describes her relationships with her parents, the warmth she had as a mother that demonstrated just one more thing she took to naturally. I also learnt she didn't initially want to be an actress, and it was interesting how she came to be an actress instead.

Perhaps my favourite pictures of Audrey with son (photos in book)



















When I finished the book, I felt a strange feeling of emptiness and sadness which I still can't explain. I also felt somehow motivated to support good causes, make a difference in the life you have and show real love to everyone I care for. I hope if you choose to read, you might get a similar appreciation. This has to be a favourite read for me. Like most books, I'm not sure I will read it again, but that's just me. I've never re-read books unless asked for educational purposes.

Taken during the production of War and Peace (photo from book)






















I really feel like my review doesn't give it justice, but these are the only words that come to mind as I try not to give too much away or hint too much about the most interesting parts of the book, or parts worth mentioning.

Let me know if you have read this book, or whether you know much about Audrey Hepburn.

I hope to write a summary of all the books I've read this month at the start of the next month. I think it will be good to help me keep on top of the challenge, and also detail some amazing reads!

Another favourite picture from the book taken in 1991

116 comments:

  1. I love Audrey Hepburn, she was such a fascinating person and great actress. Plus, her style was on point!

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    1. She is incredible. Always admired her iconic image but in last few years I've learnt how amazing she was and fell in love with many of her films x

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  2. Oooh -- Jane Eyre is my all-time favorite book :) I love to read as well, and enjoyed your take on the Hepburn book. I don't know a lot about her and would love to learn more. I'm okay with a child telling their parent's story. I read a book about George Bush written by his son, and the son openly said that he wasn't objective because he loved his dad. That's as it should be!

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    1. I just finished Jane Eyre yesterday and was shocked by how much I enjoyed it. Aww thank you! 😊 I think he summed her up great x

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  3. Beautiful book. The photos are a beautiful insight to her work, home life and charitable work. My neighbour adores Audrey and hey in the beauty world we can thank her for the Elasticizer hair treatment.

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    1. It truly is an amazing read! She is amazing and oh god yes. It is so good to use x

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  4. You have really gotten off to quite a start on your reading challenge, quite impressive! I don't know too much about Audrey Hepburn but from your review this book sounds great.

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    1. Yeah I'm proud of myself haha. Yeah I'd recommend it to anyone because think even those who don't know a great deal will be interested. To be honest I didn't know a lot x

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  5. I LOVE Audrey! I need to read this book! I have a "cartoon" drawing of her as my signature tag on my blog. She is perfection!

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    1. That's so cool, if I was better with design I'd probably have something like that on my blog 🙊! She truly is. If you love her, I'd definitely recommend the book x

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  6. This sounds like a good book, glad you enjoyed it

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  7. One of my resolutions is to read more in 2017 too! Audrey Hepburn is such an intriguing star - I'd love to find out a bit more about the woman behind the persona!

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    1. Well I honestly believe this is the best and most accurate representation you're going to get x

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  8. Audrey is one of my inspirations and not just because of her style. I love that she was compassionate and cared about helping others x

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    1. Yes I'm with you. It's unbelievable all the things she achieved and did. Wish more were as inspirational x

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  9. Omgeee Jodie we are on the same wave length... I have added more book to my new years resolution and from your review I will defiantly search for this novel in spanish.

    I have always loved the classic and elegant style of Audrey Hepburn. Plus she never had to over sexualise her look... what a beautiful soul! Thanks for sharing this review.

    xoxo

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    1. Glad you like my review and you now want to read it 😊 you are right, such a beautiful soul! X

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  10. She was an amazing woman, would love to read this book.

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  11. I'd love to read this book - I'm not a fan, but I love the fact her son wrote it!

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    1. It is an incredible book and interesting concept as well x

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  12. Amazing woman! I like to read about her, and this book looks interesting.

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    1. It definitely is and probably the most accurate biography I could imagine x

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  13. WOW! I'm so backwards ... I never knew biography books exist.. thanks to your great post now I'm aware.

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    1. I love fact based books and have never read a biography before as not thought it as accurate as from the person themself x

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  14. What a wonderful review. I like how you shared about the book and what you thought/felt about different pieces of it. The pictures you shared look like they make the book even more interesting.

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    1. Aww thank you 😊 glad you enjoyed reading! X

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  15. I love reading biographies, they're such a great way of finding out more about a person x

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    1. It was my first biography as always tried to read autobiographies before x

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  16. I have to admit I do love Audrey Hepburn so would love to read this book x

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    1. Definitely recommend it to you then. You'll admire her even more 😊x

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  17. I love reading but when it comes to biography books I'm not a huge fan unless it's of someone I really admire sadly Audrey isn't for me x

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    1. Fair enough. That's what biographies are about - finding out more about someone you're fascinated about x

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  18. I love Audrey Hepburn, this sounds like one to add to my reading list.

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    1. Definitely! I'd recommend it to anyone and it's great chance to learn more x

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  19. Gosh, you've got through a lot of books already and it's not even Feb yes! Well done! Reading more novels is something I've set out to do this year and I too have always admired Audrey Hepburn. Tx

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    1. Aww thank you 😊 it's a good head start and will make it easier as the year goes on x

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  20. Great post, I absolutely adore Audrey Hepburn! She's such an inspiration not only because of her style and talent but also of her kind heart and compassion!

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  21. I personally hate reading. I always have. Perhaps I should try to read more. Just need to find the time!

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    1. Audiobooks are perhaps a good way to start. Helps make time like walking to work or while sat in traffic etc x

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  22. Such a lovely looking book. It would make an amazing present x

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    1. Yeah was a present at Christmas actually x

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  23. Ooh this looks like a great read!
    What a stunning lady :)

    Dani x

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  24. One of my goals this year is to read more too. I love that you re-read The Tales of Peter Rabbit... I loved the Beatrix Potter books! They're favorites of mine as well.

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    1. They were incredible! I remembered there being more words to the books but think I must have been partly mesmerised by how the stories were created x

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  25. This sounds like a fantastic read, I'll have to find a copy!
    A great way to review a book too!

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    1. I was lucky and got it for Christmas. It's on Amazon! X

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  26. Woweee, she was such a fascinating lady! Didn't realise she did that much charity work!

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    1. Yeah she did it at the end of her career x

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  27. you have really inspired me to read this, I love that scene in funny face when she is dancing in the jazz club.I'm reading lots or travel guides to Scotland before my holiday there soon but have also just started Wuthering Heights.

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    1. Yeah apparently one of her son's favourite films that she did as she was so excited to work with actor Fred. Cool, I love Scotland and lived there for 7 years so if you want any tips...hope you get to reading more. Been loving Jane eyre by the other bronte sister x

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  28. I love Audrey Hepburn, she was such a beautiful style icon her style was always on point. She was also such a great actress and a beautiful person. I love to read books I find interesting and this is very interesting, I will add it to my books to read :-)

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    1. Good 😊 I think you'd love it then x

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  29. I don't normally pick up these sorts of books but I'd actually be really interested to learn more about Audrey Hepburn.

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    1. Yeah not really into biographies but won't regret it if you read it x

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  30. I love Audrey Hepburn so would love to read this. Looks like there's lots of beautiful pictures to look at along the reading journey too x

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    1. Yeah I'd say it's almost like reading a magazine for the balance of pictures x

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  31. I know nothing about her, other than she is a legend. This book sounds so wonderful - a real legacy and I love that there is no gossip or the like. Kaz x

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    1. Yeah I like that part. It's just getting to know the woman more x

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  32. I need to read more too this year! Its one of my goals. This looks like a lovely book for you start off with i love the pictures, she is definitely elegant!

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    1. Hope you get to. So many ways to do it and fit books in like using audiobooks x

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  33. Great goal for the year - I love Jane Eyre and also aim to read more this year - I'm reading 'H is for Hawk' at the moment and loving it!

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    1. Not heard of it. What's that one about?

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  34. From your list, I've only read the Peter rabbit one, lol. Now I feel like I must read the Hepburn one too! Thanks for sharing

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    1. Aww glad you might be interested in. It's a lovely book x

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  35. Sounds like a great read, I loved Audrey Hepburn as a teenager! Such beautiful photos!

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    1. She is an amazing woman! Some lovely pictures in the book, they were just my favourites x

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  36. So far, you are off to a great start with your readings for the year. Audrey Hepburn was one of my favorite entertainers and I have a coffee table book of her fashion favorites. This sounds like a good read from someone, her son, who knew her well. While it might not have the usual dirt, it is a worthy read.

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    1. I kinda like that it doesn't use the general dirt in biographies. It somehow seems more genuine and real. Definitely recommend to anyone to read. Makes me reconsider my thoughts on biographies x

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  37. It's one of my aims this year to read more too, and I've set myself a little challenge like yourself :) Basically every time I finish a book I'm going to set £5 aside for each one, and by the end of the year I'll have a nice little pile of cash saved up to treat myself with, I saw someone suggest it on twitter and thought it was an excellent idea :) I've got £20 set aside already!

    That being said, this sounds like a fantastic book and I'm definitely going to be adding this to my list of books to read for this year. I've loved Audrey Hepburn ever since I was young, and I'd love to be able to read into her life a little more :) xo

    Emma-Louise | Dino's Beauty

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    1. That's a fab idea. Could imagine myself cheating and ducking into that money though! Haha 😂. I definitely recommend it and don't think you'll be disappointed. Thank you for reading my review! 😊x

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  38. My goal is to read more this year. This sounds like a good read got to love a bit of Audrey Hepburn

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    1. Hope you exceed and this mighthave inspired you a little more. She is fab and a definite hero! X

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  39. I love Audrey Hepburn so I am fascinated to see this book. The pictures look fabulous and I would love to learn more about her life.

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    1. She is incredible and just admire her more! They were just some of my favourite pictures! X

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  40. I do really need to try and read more. This looks like an interesting read especially as it's about Audrey Hepburn, what a fabulous lady.

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    1. It's good for those who don't have time to read as reminds me of a magazine as good balance of pictures x

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  41. My dad LOVES Audrey Hepburn. Because of this, I have watched many of her movies. I don't know much about her behind the scenes though. This sounds like a great book that I would enjoy reading.

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    1. It is incredible as I just admire her more now x

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  42. This sounds like a great book, I don't really know much about Audrey Hepburn so I should probably read it!

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    1. I didn't know a lot but loved what I had heard about her. I just admire her more now! X

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  43. This looks and sounds like a great read and as a avid reader I am always on the look out for more interesting books so going to add this to next months to read list

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    1. Well let me know what you think of it 😊x

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  44. The authors you selected are all great. I've read a lot of Harlan Coben stuff I love his crime series. Audrey was such a remarkable human being often only remembered for beauty and not for her amazing philanthropic work! Great post!
    L x

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    1. Indeed! She was a fab mother, actress, fashion icon, and amazing representative for UNICEF 😊 x

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  45. I love reading autobiographies! I think Audrey Hepburn was a really amazing woman in her day. I will have to check this out. Thanks for the review!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed reading it and hope you read the biography! X

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  46. I really enjoy biographies and I think I'd find this book very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. No problem, glad you enjoyed reading it 😊

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  47. I love Audrey Hepburn, forever elegant and stylish.

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    1. Aww I'm glad. I love her, think you'd enjoy the book then x

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  48. I adore Audrey, she was an amazing actress and an incredible woman too. Such a lovely book.

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    1. That's great! Definitely recommend the book for you then 😊 x

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  49. I read about this book before it was even published. I really would like to get my hands on it :))

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    1. It's on amazon and one of my best presents for Christmas this year x

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  50. This sounds like a great book on Audrey Hepburn!

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    1. It is amazing and recommend to people x

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  51. I have been wanting to read Audrey Hepburn's book for a while now and now I got a taste of it. I definitely can not wait to read it myself

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    1. It is amazing! 😊 If like me, you'll end up liking her that little bit more x

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  52. Sounds like an interesting book. Will add it to my to-read list! :)

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  53. Audrey Hepburn was amazing. I am sure the book was fabulous.

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    1. It was. Definitely recommend if you're a fan 😊 x

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  54. It's so lovely that it was written by her son! As you say it's a shame that means more critical aspects aren't also included but it sounds like it was pretty inspirational :)

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    1. I kind of like that it isn't but sure it might irritate some people as she sounds almost saintly x

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  55. I'm a massive fan of Audrey Hepburn so this has been added to my reading list! xo

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    1. That's nice! You won't be disappointed 😊 x

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  56. This looks fab, I love books like this and when they have loads of old photos x

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    1. Yeah so many great pictures. It was like looking at a narrated photo album. So lovely to read! X

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  57. I don't really know that much about Audrey Hepburn at all so I would never normally pick this book up but after reading this I really want to. I love that it's written by her son.

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    1. Didn't know a huge a lot but what I had heard, I loved. Glad you think it might sound interesting from my review x

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  58. A close friend of mine would absolutely love this, she is obsessed with Audrey x

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