When Emma Jansen discovers that the grand Long Island estate where she grew up is set to be demolished, she can’t help but return for one last visit. After all, it was a place filled with firsts: learning to ride a bike, sneaking a glass of champagne, falling in love.
But once Emma arrives at the storied mansion, she can’t ignore the more complicated memories. Because that’s not exactly where Emma grew up. Her mother and father worked for the family that owned the estate, and they lived over the garage like Audrey Hepburn’s character in the film Sabrina. Emma never felt fully accepted, except by the family’s grandson, Henry—a former love—and by the driver’s son, Leo—her best friend.
As plans for the property are put into motion and the three are together for the first time in over a decade, Emma finds herself caught between two worlds and two loves. And when the house reveals a shattering secret about her own family, she’ll have to decide what kind of life she really wants for herself now and who she wants to be in it.
The Audrey Hepburn Estate (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) (Audible.com) (AbeBooks Used Book Marketplace)
I previously read and reviewed The Grace Kelly Dress and #TheLizTaylorRing by Brenda Janowitz and have enjoyed her work. She takes an iconic object from popular culture and creates a narrative around it. With the Audrey Hepburn Estate, the house reportedly used in the Billy Wilder film Sabrina, starring Audrey Hepburn, William Holden, and Humphrey Bogart is the setting.
Told in dual timelines, the book follows Emma as she grows up at the estate. She lives above the garage just like Sabrina did, and her parents work for the estate. Just like in the movie, she’s fallen in love with the owner’s son, Henry, while her friend Leo, who also lives on the estate, looks on.
In the modern day, Emma finds out from Leo that the estate is about to be torn down, and Emma wants to stop that. Through the current timeline, Emma realizes that with all the happy times at the estate, there were plenty of sad times. And soon Emma discovers something about her family that she can’t reconcile with.
I highly recommend watching Sabrina (free on Amazon Prime Video) before tackling this book. You certainly don’t have to, but if you do, you’ll notice plenty of Easter eggs written throughout the book that make this book more enjoyable. And Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II by Robert Matzen is a good look at the Netherlands during World War II, which is good to know when delving into this book. At the end of the book, Janowitz takes the time to go chapter-by-chapter and reveal all the facts she inserted into the story, which I appreciated.
All-in-all, this was a very good historical fiction book with a mystery wrapped up in the middle of it. Highly recommend.
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