There’s one thing I’ve never been much good at, and that’s critiquing artistic works, writing reports on anything, analyzing thing, or in general doing any of those things you’d get graded on in school. Which is probably the main reason I ended up skipping college and heading straight to work in Los Angeles.
However, I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Dutch Girl, a book on Audrey Hepburn’s years in Holland during World War 2 by Robert Matzen (Hi, Robert!!!), and of course I have to say something about it here!
“When the elephants fight, the grass suffers…”
In general, I’m not a fan of books or films about war. However, following one person’s experiences during a time of conflict does capture my attention. I suppose it’s that connection you can more easily make with one human, versus trying to empathize with thousands of general experiences, or be interested in humans killing other humans en mass. The details make it relatable, and you’re rooting for that person to make it through. You’re learning about a real human experience, and not just being bombarded with names and dates and battles and death. I won’t be able to repeat back any names of generals or dates of battles, but I will remember what the people of Velp and Arnhem and so many other cities suffered when I walk their streets later this year… I will appreciate what these people had to go through, as innocent victims of war. We are all very lucky that Audrey made it through.
It was interesting to read in more detail what those years were like for young Audrey. It’s difficult to imagine having to live through these things, having your life disrupted and affected so much. Intellectually, I know that this is still happening to so many around the world. It’s easy to forget, when you’re in the middle of living your own pretty safe and standard life. It was heartbreaking to read about her uncles’ capture and killing. One of them kept a journal during his captivity, parts of which are shared in the book. He and his wife were so brave and strong… I doubt I would have been as courageous under the same circumstances. I would want to be. But I know myself and I would probably be the angry defiant prisoner! Who really knows… I hope never to find out.
This is definitely a book I’m going to be keeping on my shelf. Most other biographies are pretty similar in their content, but this one fills in so many years that are normally just glossed over. Years that made her who she was. I can absolutely recommend reading Dutch Girl. You can preorder it on Amazon and get it in April. You know you want to! 😉
Speaking of Dutch, I’ve started taking Dutch lessons from a teacher on iTalki.com, which is also where I found my French teacher. And once I get the hang of Dutch (hahahaha… oh my goodness it’s taken me ages for French, let’s see how this goes), I’m going to add in a little Italian before I reach Italy. I know I’m not going to reach any kind of fluency in the next year, I would be happy getting to A1 level. I’ve always wanted to be multilingual, but haven’t put enough effort into it. Thanks to Audrey though, I’m getting a little push off on the languages and dancing. Fortunately, I do have at least two Dutch friends I can practice a little with before I get to Holland. And three Dutch relatives that I haven’t seen in years but I’m sure they would be happy to hear from me!
I can’t wait to look back on 2019 and see all the new things I’ve learned, all the new people I’ve met, all the new adventures I’ve had….