Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II

Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II

Twenty-five years after her passing, Audrey Hepburn remains the most beloved of all Hollywood stars, known as much for her role as UNICEF ambassador as for films like Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Several biographies have chronicled her stardom, but none has covered her intense experiences through five years of Nazi occupation in the Netherlands. According to h...

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Title:Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II
Author:Robert Matzen
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Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II Reviews

  • Keith Chawgo

    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 fa

    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.

  • Lauren Stoolfire

    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. Audr

    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.

  • Juli

    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

    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.**

  • Valerity (Val)

    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

    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.

    My full review on BookZone blog:

  • Michelle

    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 implic

    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.

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