Audrey Hepburn and World War II
by Robert Matzen
Foreword by Luca Dotti
ARCs & digital galleys: October 2018
U.S. publication date: April 15, 2019
Hardcover with dust jacket
416 pages; 24 pages of color and B&W photos
Kindle and ePub
Blackstone Audiobook read by Tavia Gilbert
"Audrey Hepburn, with her fresh innocence, gamine ways, intense dark eyes, and boyish figure, created magic on the screen. Known as an Academy Award-winning actress and fashion icon, she also made a difference for suffering children as a UNICEF ambassador before her untimely death from abdominal cancer in 1993. What many don't know, and Robert Matzen's sensitive and deeply moving book reveals, are Hepburn's experiences growing up in the Netherlands during the years of Nazi occupation—experiences that formed her character and left her haunted by memories she could not erase... A master storyteller, Matzen has given us a great story—intimate, intense, and unforgettable—that carries us not only into the heart of the battle but into the heart of a great human being."
Foreword Reviews magazine
March/April 2019 issue
"Dutch Girl is a somber and rich book, filled with meticulous detail and compassion. Matzen does a superb job of weaving together an exploration of the searing impact of the war upon the adolescent Audrey..."
"Just when we thought we knew everything there was to know about Audrey Hepburn, this amazing chronicle of her young life in Holland during the Nazi occupation, so little documented in the past, sheds light and understanding upon Hepburn in which, in the final analysis, transcends the known and makes her whole."
Stephen Michael Shearer
Author (with Robert Osborne) of Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr
Twenty-five years after her passing, Audrey Hepburn remains the most beloved of all Hollywood stars, known as much for her role as UNICEF ambassador as for films like Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and Charade. Several biographies have chronicled her stardom, but none has attempted to cover her intense experiences through five years of Nazi occupation in the Netherlands, where she spent the entirety of World War II.
According to her son, Luca Dotti, "The war made my mother who she was." Audrey Hepburn's war included the brutal execution of her uncle and cousin on August 15, 1942, participation in the Dutch Resistance, work as a doctor's aide during the "Bridge too Far" battles for Arnhem and Oosterbeek, and the ordeal of the Hunger Winter of 1944-45. She also had to contend with the fact that her father sided with the Nazis and her mother was pro-Nazi for the first two years of the occupation.
The war years also brought triumphs as Audrey became Arnhem's most celebrated young ballerina. New interviews with people who knew her in the war plus wartime diaries and research in classified Dutch archives shed light on the riveting, untold story of Audrey Hepburn in World War II.