Friday, May 19, 2023

Book Review: The Audrey Hepburn Estate by Brenda Janowitz

Pages: 368
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 18, 2023
Publisher: Graydon House
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Goodreads says, "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."




Emma Jansen has grown up on a beautiful Long Island estate, Rolling Hill, not because her parents own it, but because they work there. Her mother is a maid and her father is the butler. So, she has grown up adjacent to a wealthy lifestyle but is by no means wealthy. As the years go on, she befriends the owner of the estate's grandson, Henry, and the driver's son, Leo. She has such great childhood memories of running around the estate, exploring the rooms, swimming at the pool, barbecues for the 4th of July, and more. Except one memory haunts her of the cook, Fleur, who gets into a fight with the owner of the estate, Felix Van Der Wraak, and ends up falling to her death. Just she and Leo witnessed it and are still pretty unsure about what exactly happened. Many years later, she comes to find that Rolling Hill is dilapidated, and instead of being preserved, a developer, who happens to be Leo, wants to tear it down to build a development. This greatly upsets Emma as she has such wonderful memories there (or so she thinks!) and feels the estate should be restored. Throwing herself back into this world has her encountering Henry, who was her first love, and Leo, her former best friend; she is caught in the middle. Brenda Janowitz's The Audrey Hepburn Estate is a wonderful historical read that is a fresh take on Sabrina.


I really enjoyed Emma from the start of The Audrey Hepburn Estate. Janowitz really developed her character as readers get to know her from childhood at Rolling Hill up to the present day. Learning more about Emma's childhood at the estate filled in a lot of questions that I had about her and her experiences with Henry and Leo. She has a complicated relationship with her mother and slowly that is fleshed out and secrets are revealed. But The Audrey Hepburn Estate is about more than just family drama and an updated version of Sabrina, there's a lot of intrigue in it surrounding World War II and Nazis. Leo and Emma slowly learn what went on at Rolling Hill and they think there is more to it than they thought; perhaps Felix Van Der Wraak isn't just an art collector. As Emma discovers more about the estate's history, she, in turn, learns more about her family and herself.


Janowitz also gives readers some historical details about Audrey Hepburn's life which was very interesting; there's so much more to her than I initially thought. Also, I am a huge fan of Sabrina, so I really enjoyed this modern take on the tale. Readers who enjoy light historical reads will definitely want to throw The Audrey Hepburn Estate in their beach bag this summer.


Are you a fan of Brenda Janowitz? Is The Audrey Hepburn Estate on your TBR list? Have you read it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.



  1. I'm not familiar with Sabrina, but this one is on my TBR!

    1. Angela, you should definitely watch Sabrina! SO GOOD! I think you'll enjoy this book. Thanks for visiting!


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