AUDREY by Alexander Walker


Her Real Story
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 Only two years after her death, the exquisite Audrey Hepburn has already been the subject of several biographies; the second this year (after Warren G. Harris's Audrey Hepburn, p. 753) claims, not wholly convincingly, to be definitive. Certainly, no book on her life better expresses the nature of her grace and attraction than this one, by London Evening Standard film critic Walker (Fatal Charm, 1993, etc.), an astute judge of acting talent. Afflicted with a problematic childhood, Hepburn was traumatized by her parent's divorce when she was six. By managing to conceal much of her family history later, she avoided also being stigmatized by her father's work as a Nazi propagandist in England during the late 1930s and by her Dutch baroness mother's brief flirtation with fascism. Her father was something of a mystery man, and Walker adds to this sinister aura with some wildly unconvincing speculation on his possible Eurasian mixed-blood heritage. Walker is on firmer ground when he presents an admirably balanced picture of Audrey's painful experiences during the WW II occupation of the Netherlands and her minor efforts on behalf of the Resistance. In a dispassionate narrative, he traces her subsequent dance and film career, her sudden rise to stardom in Hollywood, her lengthy and troubled marriage to Mel Ferrer and briefer one to Dr. Andrea Dotti, her graceful withdrawal from film work, and her heroic efforts as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Walker's sympathy for his subject is manifest, but there is something vaguely superficial about his approach to her life, as evidenced by the type of canned social and artistic history that places the 1967 Bonnie and Clyde alongside the 1962 Children's Hour as examples of the new permissiveness in Hollywood. This intelligent but surprisingly bland recounting of Hepburn's life and career leaves readers wanting someone to delve a bit more deeply. (60 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Jan. 20th, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-11746-9
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1994