Lollygagger recently reviewed a different book, Wicked, for the same Bingo Square- Alabama Pink- and came away with the realization that they would probably not have belonged in the same book club. I agree; Enchantment was the only book that interested me from the list of books Alabama Pink was able to read and review before her untimely death (I have yet to muster the motivation for our upcoming Book Club selection) and it was severely disappointing. I do wonder though, is it possible to glean a complete picture of one’s literary taste from only eleven books? The first eleven books I read and reviewed on Cannonball were Heartburn, The Spectacular Now, Almost Moon, Shut up You’re welcome, Rude Bitches Make me Tired, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Monuments Men, Gay Men Don’t Get Fat, Everyone Wants to be Me or do Me, Happy Accidents and The Fault in our Stars. While these are a fairly decent snapshot of the types of books I enjoy I would only recommend 4 of them based on my feelings about their content and style.
I was prepared to enjoy this one because it combines some of my favorite things- classic Hollywood and biographies- but I was bored out of my mind reading this one. Spoto is an impeccable researcher and he did a serviceable job of stringing together Audrey’s life story but his writing never jumped off the page for me. Audrey’s early life was very trying after her father abandoned his family when Audrey was very young. Part of Audrey’s strong inclination to help young children in need stemmed from her difficult adolescence. Audrey came of age in Nazi controlled Holland during WWII and consequently was frequently starved and terrified. The war derailed her ballet career but she was instantly thrust into the limelight with the success of Roman Holiday (and to a lesser extent her performance on Broadway in Gigi.) Afterwards Audrey enjoyed a prolonged period as the Hollywood “It” girl who was both critically and commercially adored. I should note, as Spoto did, that Audrey was never really a Hollywood staple. Most of her filmography was European based and she never owed a home in the United States or held a US passport so she was never really ours to claim.
Spoto focuses on both Audrey’s love life and her career during the middle chapters but he offers few surprises to someone who has access to Wikipedia and IMDB. Also, despite not being a film critic, he was overly opinionated about Audrey’s body of work which seemed a bit unprofessional for a biographer. The one interesting takeaway Enchantment offered me was the Audrey Hepburn wasn’t quite the good girl I had thought she was. She had several affairs while married, although she may have had a somewhat open marriage with Mel Ferrer, including one with a young Albert Finney.
While I was apathetic to the regurgitation of facts offered about Audrey’s career I did enjoy the chapters focusing on her work with UNICEF and wished for more anecdotes about her time with the organization. In the end cancer took Audrey’s life too soon although she remains a cultural icon.