The majority of teenagers see the “Biography” plaque marking the section at Barnes and Noble and flee straight away to the Young Adult, John Green-rife bookshelf. The only probable reason why an adolescent would be caught in that section-that-shall-not-be-named is if Grandpa wanted an Abe Lincoln book or, in my case, Dad wanted Winston Churchill books for Father’s Day.
But, as I perused through authors’ last names I came across the letter ‘F’ and found Sean Ferrer’s tribute biography to his very well-known, very elegant mother, Audrey Hepburn. After that moment, my biography section phobia was instantly cured.
The New York Times bestseller “Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit” captures an image of Ms. Hepburn that is much different from the familiar Holly Golightly, large sunglasses and lush pearls character from the iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Rather, Sean Ferrer places his mother on a pedestal, revealing her powerful aura of compassion, tender empathy and undeniable love.
The book, compiled into seven concise chapters and brimming with several personal photos, is the quintessential summer fix for the chaise lounge on a sunny day or the sofa for a quick read. The book, as Mr. Ferrer promised in the preface, indeed made me smile and “cry a little too.” But it is through those very different emotions that the message of the book truly reaches the reader.
I may sound overly sentimental, but by the end of the book, Ferrer’s beautifully stringed words and clauses actually allowed me to feel like I knew his mother; I truly felt her elegant spirit.
One of the main goals of every biographer is to let the reader feel like he or she has conversed with, become best friends with or chatted over coffee with the showcased human being, and Ferrer reaches that goal.
Throughout the entire book, Miss Hepburn’s son constantly references UNICEF — a cause his mother worked tirelessly for the last few years of her life. He also describes his mother’s insatiable desire for an end to poverty and starvation as a result of the tragic plights she suffered in World War II as a child.
It is through the war and UNICEF — large roles throughout Audrey’s life — that Sean Ferrer deciphered his mother’s time on this planet and honestly presented her as who she was: a simple woman, mother full of humble grace.
Even the funds for “Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit” are gratefully received by UNICEF.
Ferrer ditched the world-renowned star facade that his mother is so often portrayed as — Givenchy stylized, winged eyebrows, largely romantic eyes — and presented her as the woman with a marvelous love of children, tireless desire for peace and graceful power to empathize.
The book has some heart-wrenchingly beautiful anecdotes, however, small stories like Audrey’s firm belief in having a piece of chocolate per day are surely written for a chuckle.
“Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit” allows readers to feel the pure elegance of one woman, whether it is through her mission trips, her large pot of pomodoro sauce, her flowers from her garden or her beloved Jack Russels.