July 2nd, 2014

Book Review: What Would Audrey Do? by Pamela Keogh

Sara du Jour Book Review: What Would Audrey Do?

Audrey Hepburn is one of my biggest inspirations, so I thought this book would be right up my alley. I admire her kindness, generosity, grace, and sense of style (particularly in the fifties and early sixties).

Unfortunately, What Would Audrey Do? wasn’t quite what I hoped it would be. I’m not exactly sure what I wanted from this book. I think I either a) wanted a book that gave insight into the person Audrey Hepburn was (behind her glossy image), or b) wanted a fun, fluffy little book that was a bit tongue-in-cheek.

You know that old adage about trying to sit on two chairs at once, only to end up falling and sitting on neither? That’s this book, to me.

On one hand, What Would Audrey Do? does give a few nice details about Audrey Hepburn: her personal life, behaviour, preferences, and other peoples’ perceptions of her. I learned a few things I didn’t already know, which were interesting, and these tidbits were my favourite parts of the book. If the whole book was filled with these, I think I would have enjoyed it more.

While this book does also contain some generally good advice for how to carry yourself with confidence, date, and navigate the world, where it fails, to me, is its too-earnest attempt to give advice to women on how they can aim to copy Audrey’s…everything. I understand trying to emulate her minimalistic chic fashion sense, but some of it went way too far. As in, Audrey loved children, so you should too. Audrey loved dogs (not cats!) so you should to. Audrey loved (this particular brand of designer luggage), so you should too. It just felt a little bit… pretentious to me.

Audrey Hepburn was a human, but his book doesn’t treat her as such. To be fair, its not just this book at fault. As a society, we seem to have deified her. Yes, she was talented, beautiful, kind, and beloved, but she was still a human with at least some flaws, like everybody else. (Don’t expect to learn about any of her flaws in this book, though.)

I don’t think it’s right to treat someone as a god, whether during their lifetime or after they’ve passed. It robs them of their humanity. And it is one’s humanity that is to be admired. Someone who has made a few mistakes and was thrown a few hurdles, but ultimately worked hard to be the best they could be.

At the end of the day, Audrey Hepburn was an incredible, admirable woman, but I don’t want to be her, let alone mould myself into an Audrey Hepburn knock-off. To borrow a thought from Judy Garland, I think I’d rather be a first-rate version of myself, than a second-rate version of somebody else. I will strive to be the best I can be, regardless of whether or not Audrey would have made exactly the same choices as mine.

And I think being true to oneself is more in the spirit of Audrey anyway. xx

What Would Audrey Do?, by Pamela Keogh – My Rating: 2.5/5

– Sara

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