Audrey Hepburn never wrote her autobiography, despite pleas from friends and agents, fearing her life was too "plain" to make for good reading. But in Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit her son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, makes clear that Hepburn's larger-than-life life was begging to be recounted. Written in graceful, honest prose, Ferrer's book traces Hepburn's life starting with her childhood in war-torn Netherlands, then moving onto her career in show business, and later, her extensive work for UNICEF. Ferrer does not shy away from the personal, recalling private memories of late-night chats with his mother. "Whenever she had to go to a dinner or a cocktail party, she would always say, Oh, if only I could stay home and eat in the kitchen with you,'" he writes. He also writes candidly about her health problems, including multiple miscarriages and the cancer that ultimately killed her.

In fact, Ferrer seemingly shares everything, from Hepburn's favorite recipe spaghetti al pomodoro to dozens of lovely photos from every phase of her life. The pictures of her visits to refugees in Somalia are powerful, and the shots of her from various movie sets wearing her famous Givenchy clothes are gorgeous.

For all that Ferrer shares, this private glimpse never feels exploitative. His book will appeal to anyone who wants to read an account of a simultaneously modest private life and a huge role on the world stage.

All Amy Scribner wants from Santa is less traffic on the Washington, D.C., Beltway.


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