cover image Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II

Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II

Robert Matzen. GoodKnight, $27.95 (416p) ISBN 978-1-73227-353-5

Matzen (Mission: Jimmy Stewart) completes his trilogy of books about Hollywood figures during WWII with this exciting volume about Audrey Hepburn’s childhood and adolescence under the Nazi occupation of Holland. At first, Hepburn is largely a supporting player, having been only 11 when the Nazis invaded (she later said, “A child is a child is a child; I just went to school”). Instead, Matzen focuses on Hepburn’s mother (by then divorced from Hepburn’s father), a socialite and longtime Nazi sympathizer, and other family members, including her uncle, who was held by the Nazis and eventually shot in retaliation for Dutch resistance activity. Nevertheless, Matzen shows how war shaped Hepburn’s resilient and fiercely private personality and informed her work as a UNICEF ambassador later in life. And all is not gloom and doom, as he explores Hepburn’s fascination with dance, and her dreams of becoming a ballerina. More dominant, however, is the wartime background. Visceral details—of intense privation (“I went as long as three days without food” Hepburn recalled), constant bombings, and also acts of resistance—evoke the period. Matzen has created a vivid portrait of a civilian population under siege–one of who just happened to become a Hollywood star. (Apr.)