Sometimes you find a book that combines all of your favourite things into one perfect volume–and Audrey at Home: Memories of My Mother’s Kitchen (HarperCollins, 2015) by Audrey’s son Luca Dotti is one such book.
This beautiful biography tells Audrey’s life story through personal photographs, letters, drawings and most importantly–her favourite recipes.
The first recipe, for chocolate cake with whipped cream, sheds light on why she adored chocolate: when Holland was liberated at the end of WW2, young Audrey was given a chocolate bar from a Dutch soldier. Her first bit of sweet sustenance after near-starvation during the war. Surviving the war, says Dotti, shaped her entire life:
“…she considered that survival a gift that should not be wasted. She worked hard to get back what she had lost: home family, and the security contained in the warmth of a kitchen.”
And so, the story unfolds, one recipe at a time (I can’t wait to make macaroni and cheese Audrey style!). It’s a wonderful book to read and to look at, full of hand-written notes, quotes, cooking tips and gorgeous photos.
Another reason to love this book: it is not a salacious tell-all. Audrey herself had decided not to write an autobiography for that very reason, explains Dotti:
The day Mum told me that I wouldn’t be able to read her story in a book, I asked her why. She gracefully replied, “I would have to tell the whole truth, Luchino, I could not speak only about the beautiful things. And I do not want to speak ill of others.”
Without a doubt, she would have been pleased with this book. Even when Dotti delves into the darker period of her life (including his parent’s painful divorce), he does so without revealing more than he needs to, and without blame or anger.
Audrey at Home is a carefully crafted recipe for her success: as a wife, mother, gardener, cook, actress, and advocate for children. And her secret ingredient was (you guessed it!) — love.