Warrior, Audrey Hepburn

“For once in your life, Mummy, use your bloody name!”

Audrey’s son Luca could not have known how those words would stay with his mother for the rest of her life.

Warrior, Audrey Hepburn is another example of how Robert Matzen becomes intimately acquainted with his subjects. Audrey may be gone, but her legacy lives on in her sons Sean and Luca, and now her passion is being shared with the world through Warrior.

In Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II, Matzen introduces a young Audrey who dreamed of becoming a ballerina. Then the Nazi’s came. Audrey lived through World War II under Nazi occupation. She witnessed first-hand the atrocities of war – images that would haunt her the rest of her life. She also remembered the hunger – not knowing when, or even if, she would eat again. Robert Matzen helps his readers experience the Hunger Winter of 1944. It was this memory that would drive Audrey to sacrifice her own health and ignore any perceived danger so she could use her “bloody name” to show the world the true victims of senseless wars – the children.

In Warrior, Robert Matzen exposes the real Audrey Hepburn. Beyond the glitz and glamour was a mother who never understood why people were so fascinated by her. She never saw her outer beauty. This book gives the world a clear picture of Audrey’s inner beauty, a beauty that was so much more than people could see on a screen.

Audrey never thought she was special. She never used her name to solicit special treatment for herself or for Sean and Luca. When Luca saw his grandfather lying in a hospital bed left to die, he pleaded with his mum, “For once in your life, Mummy, use your bloody name!” When she did, a bed miraculously became available at a hospital closer to family. Audrey saw the power of her name, and Luca’s words would stay with Audrey and become a driving force in her work with UNICEF.

When Audrey and “her Robbie” (Robert Wolders, her partner) made their first trip for UNICEF in which they looked into the eyes of starving children, Audrey was immediately transported back to the Hunger Winter. She recognized the look in their eyes. She remembered how it felt to suffer the same symptoms these children were suffering. She had to do something. Luca’s words came back to her, “use your bloody name!”

Warrior, Audrey Hepburn shares Audrey’s passion for children and how she used her name as much and as often as she could. This “Mother Teresa in designer jeans” was on a mission to save the worlds children. Luca once stated, “UNICEF expected Audrey Hepburn would be a pretty princess for them at galas. But what they really got was a badass soldier.”

No one could have ever imagined just how hard this soldier would fight for the children of the Developing World. She went into war zones. She showed the seemingly forgotten victims of men’s greed love and compassion like they had never seen. These victims did not know Audrey Hepburn the actress. They only knew the lady who brought smiles, who brought love, who hugged them and cared for them, and the lady who brough the trucks with food and medicine.

Audrey spent her final years as a fierce warrior. As shy as she was, she found the courage to speak to hundreds and thousands about UNICEF and the children they were trying to save. Journalists sometimes accused her of using UNICEF to bring attention to herself. The truth was that she was using herself, putting herself in harm’s way, sacrificing herself, to bring attention to UNICEF and the children.

Warrior, Audrey Hepburn is the portrait of a woman who did not see herself the way the world saw her. She truly was a warrior who spent her whole life putting others before herself. Matzen may not have ever met Audrey Hepburn, but through his research and the relationships he developed with people who did know her, there is no doubt he now has a very special relationship with Audrey Hepburn, and he makes the reader believe that he was right beside her every step of the way, fighting for the world’s children. His imagery is so vivid that one forgets the author was not actually there. Matzen shows the world Audrey’s passion. He shows the readers the world through Audrey’s eyes.

Aside from raising Sean and Luca, Audrey Hepburn was more passionate about saving the innocent children of the world than anything else. Everything she did was for the children. When asked by a reporter if her role at UNICEF was the most rewarding, she replied, “I’m not playing a role. Roles are imaginary and fantasy. There’s no fantasy to this. It’s tough heartbreaking reality.”

Yes, Audrey Hepburn represented beauty and elegance and grace. More importantly, Audrey Hepburn represented hope – hope to a world in which no one should be forced to live. Robert Matzen takes his readers to that world.