I love everything about this week’s book, Audrey at Home. I’ve had this book for a while and have been savoring it.
Audrey Hepburn was my mother’s favorite so from an early age I was very familiar with everything Audrey. Long before there were VCRs and cable television, mom and I would spend Saturdays on the couch watching afternoon specials of her movies. By time I was ten Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Roman Holiday, Sabrina and Wait Until Dark (mom claimed it was her best role), were my favorite films. My mom even looked like Audrey and had the same hair styles and big glasses. That may have been on purpose now I think. My mom also loved Audrey’s elegance and unique style. This book really had me thinking so much of my lovely mom who will be gone a year next week. I only wish I could have gotten her this book. I know how much she would have loved it.
After Audrey had her boys she rarely did movies, but I did have a chance encounter with her when I was in college…
One day, in the late 1980s, I found myself in Beverly Hills on a road trip with a boyfriend and decided to get a manicure at the Elizabeth Arden salon for fun. It was $16- pretty steep for me then, but I splurged. The salon was buzzing with chatter and ladies under dryers and such. While I waited for my polish to dry I heard a very familiar voice out of the corner of the room. It was so familiar in fact, I thought it must be the television. I turned to see it was an elegant lady, also getting her nails done and yes it was Audrey Hepburn. My heart started racing and I thought I was going to faint.
She was talking about an upcoming movie she was doing and they were showing her clothes or nightgowns and she’d say. ‘Oh maybe years ago darling not anymore,’ about some of the selections. (I think the movie was with Robert Wagner called Love Among Thieves, one of her last.) She was pretty and tiny and funny -just as she was in the movies. I could hardly breathe. I wanted to run up and tell her how much I loved her and how my mom did especially. In the end, she was moved to another room to finish up and I never did. She did flash a smile my way before she went. I flew out of there and straight to a payphone to call my mom. She was unbelieving at first and then mad it was me not her to see our Audrey. Today, I still cannot believe it happened. The best $16 I ever spent.
This book is a joy. I just loved it. I just soaked it in. I have many Audrey books, but this is a glimpse into her real life as a mom and wife. Her son Luca Dotti has done a great job conveying what a special spirit his mother was. The personal photos and anecdotes that go along with the 50 recipes make this so much more than a cookbook.
Audrey’s greatest joys were home, family, her pets and her garden. As a child of World War II who nearly starved in Nazi occupied Holland, she never took anything for granted. She reveled in creating a home for her sons and being with her close lifelong friends.
The recipes are uncomplicated and the kind of comfort food one masters and adds to a repertoire of a life’s favorite dishes. Vichyssoise, soups, pesto pasta, sea bass in paper, and chocolate cake are just a few of the simple and delicious from her collection. Audrey’s favorite though was Penne with Ketchup, which is better than it sounds, followed by a dish of vanilla ice cream. She loved staying in and eating pasta curled up on the couch with television, her family and dear dogs. Makes me want to do more of that in my life!
Some of the personal photos from this book…
The cover of the book is wrapped with a painting Audrey did of her garden in Switzerland. This is a beautiful book for your kitchen and already I am loving the soups, dressing and pastas that are so easy and fresh. This book is a guide to the sweet life you can create by surrounding yourself with the uncomplicated joys of good food, friends, family and pets. What more does one need?
Charm, kindness and gratitude are what made Audrey one of a kind and I enjoyed reading how she carried that with her throughout life.
We could all use a little more Audrey style, no?
Luca Dotti has written another more photographic centered book called Audrey in Rome about his mother’s time in the eternal city and her other son Sean Ferrer has also written a sweet book called Audrey Hepburn, an Elegant Spirit, which is also beautifully done. She must have been a wonderful mama to those boys for both to have written books about her.