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Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit: A Son Remembers Hardcover – October 28, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Hepburn's son (with actor Mel Ferrer) shows his mother as a compassionate, emotional woman who searched for and offered love above all. He traces the roots of his mother's longing in her experiences with her distant father and the destruction of her native Belgium during WWII. Via photos and stories, he notes how Hepburn (1929-1993) aimed to live an everyday family life of home, school and holidays. Rendering her husbands respectfully and without off-color stories, Ferrer doesn't offer lascivious behind-the-scenes dramas or quips about directorial injustices. Instead, he lets designers and composers who worked with Hepburn talk about the actor's inimitable talents. Composer Henry Mancini believes her "quality of wistfulness" inspired the songs he wrote for her, especially Breakfast at Tiffany's "Moon River." Designer Cecil Beaton calls her an "authentic existential Galatea" with a voice containing the "quality of heartbreak." Ferrer also details Hepburn's influential friendship with clothing designer Hubert de Givenchy, including the dressmaker's generosity in Hepburn's final days. Directors William Wyler and Billy Wilder also appear, as do actors Gary Cooper and Fred Astaire (the latter was Hepburn's co-star in her favorite movie, Funny Face). Movie-related photos abound, but the most memorable images are of Hepburn's family and the children she met in her work with UNICEF. Her 1989 speech to members of the United Nations staff on the millions of dying children in developing countries concludes the book. What began as a son's remembrance and selective movie survey becomes a call to action. In this way, the work differs greatly from standard self-important star bios. 300 full-color and b&w photos.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
A family memoir.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The perspective of this book is understandably biased but fresh, and obviously Ferrer's access to his mother's personal belongings - family snapshots, paintings and drawings done by her, even her passports - builds an intimate story. I have to admit I was taken aback by the more familiar photos of Hepburn during her Hollywood glory years (especially the glamorous Cecil Beaton pictures) and amazed at how lovely she continued to look in the professional photos taken a year or so before her death. Not surprisingly, the most moving part is Ferrer's account of her final weeks when she took one last flight from California to what looks to be a most idyllic place, her home La Paisible in Switzerland. This should be the final word about her, but that is unlikely as she continues to fascinate. Somewhere Joan Crawford must be eating her heart out.
Think of this book as a family photo album (it has many family pictures including Audrey from her earliest days in Holland), with many stories that only her family or close friends would have known.
You see Audrey as a person; not just a movie star. It made me wish that I had known her but gave me the next best thing; feeling that I did know her vicariously.
And the story of her having lunch at the the Screen Actor's Guild with Marlon Brando was illuminating about perception vs reality - that stars are just people too with their own insecurities.
The book is a loving tribute to his mother and having read it would have to say that Audrey would be proud of Sean - showing her as she would want to be seen.