The most famous story of Netherlands during World War II is, of course, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Hepburn and Frank were nearly identical in age, born just a month apart in 1929, and their narratives of the war share some similarities. Nevertheless, Hepburn had a privileged position and not being Jewish didn’t suffer anywhere near the level of persecution, and thus survived the war. Otto Frank actually requested that Hepburn play the role of his daughter in the 1959 film adaptation of the diary, but she demurred, both because she was too old for the part and because she would not be able to revisit the horrors of the war.
A lot of the narrative in this book focuses on people in Audrey Hepburn’s extended family and friends in family, or just general history of Netherlands during the war. Obviously these types of details add context, but their prominence in the book seem to indicate that Matzen had very little material on Hepburn herself to work with. He also overuses the practice of writing what people may have been thinking in reaction to certain invents that relies more on his (informed) imagination than actual historical records. All in all, this book is an interesting glimpse into events in Netherlands during German occupation, but is less effective as a biography of Audrey Hepburn.
- In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank