Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit: A Son Remembers Review

Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit, by Sean Hepburn Ferrer

When Elegant Spirit was first released in 2003, it had been a while since we’d had a good book on Audrey. The last one seemed to be Barry Paris’s biography, and it looked like there would be nothing else to look forward to. Then this book came along.

We had all read various accounts of Audrey’s life from various biographers (and to varying degrees of actual truth), but all were missing that extra element. You learned a lot about her, naturally, of the war-torn childhood and lack of father that molded her to a great degree, but all biographies seemed to keep her at arm’s length. It was like looking at her through a glass box: you got a good idea of the picture, but you just couldn’t get close to her. With Elegant Spirit, the box was opened and one of her own children was inviting you in to meet her. What’s more, it was done so tactfully, without being exploitative or seeming sensationalistic at all. This is a very dear account, a love letter from a son who was very close to his mum and wanted people to know that she was as good as she had seemed from a distance — no, even better as you came closer.

This book isn’t a biography. It’s more of a storybook, with beautiful family photos and even recipes that Audrey herself used often, my favourite part of the book. (The only sad thing is that Sean has two giant binders full of her recipes in his Children’s Fund office that he’s not putting to use.) Throughout, you can sense the close bond that they always shared, no matter how close or far they had been to each other physically. This is a rare parent-child bond, and you can feel it through the pages. It’s a beautiful book, a definite must-have for any Audrey fan, and all proceeds after publishing costs go straight to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund.

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