If you don’t know by now, I am a big fan of Audrey Hepburn. I love her movies, her philosophy, her style. In many ways I would like to emulate her, though I will never be able to rock skinny black pants like she could. Whenever I’m trying to decide what to wear, need a reminder to treat others kindly or need to eat more veggies (she believed that plates should always be colourful), I think of her. I have a few prints of her around our home (and in boxes too, because we don’t have that much wall space), and even pillows that my mom made for me last year for my birthday. I have also read a few books about her, my favourite being the one which her son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer wrote. When I came across Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn by the biographer, Donald Spoto (known for his bios of film and theatre celebrities), I snatched it up right away. I was interested to see an outside perspective of Audrey’s life and learn more about her film career and humanitarian work before she died. I was not disappointed in those aspects, but in others I was.
Spoto details Audrey’s life from the beginning to her years as a dancer and the terrors she faced during World War II, as well sharing information about her parents and genealogy that I was unaware of and found really interesting. As you know from previous posts, I love reading memoirs and biographies, because I like to see how life experience makes us into who we become. I love that Audrey held onto the small kindnesses she received as a child and made a difference in the lives of others when she had a chance.
I loved reading about how roles for my favourite movies like Funny Face, My Fair Lady, and How to Steal a Million came about, and about her experience as a mother and her devotion to her boys, Sean and Luca. However, I was so disappointed in the way that Spoto treated other aspects of Audrey’s personal life. Obviously, I know that no one is perfect, and even people that we admire have faults and make mistakes, but I didn’t like the focus that was put on that. While I understand that a biographer like Donald Spoto should be unbiased and share any information that is relevant to give an well-rounded picture of the subject’s life, there were times when it came across as gossipy, and like I was reading US Weekly rather than a best-selling author. Perhaps that is why I prefer autobiographies to biographies. I find I appreciate the authenticity and honesty when it’s coming from the person who lived through it and learned from it, rather than from an outsider who doesn’t know every side to the story.
Overall I would recommend this for someone who wants to know about Audrey’s professional experience and likes to hear back story and behind the scenes details of film and theatre. However, if you want something that will show the best parts of Audrey, the woman, fashion icon and mother, than I would suggest you choose Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit instead.
Have you read any biographies of Audrey Hepburn? Do you like to know back story on your favourite actors, or do you prefer to just enjoy their talent?