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|