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Home: A Memoir of My Early Yearsby Julie Andrews
Synopses & Reviews
Since her first appearance on screen in Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews has played a series of memorable roles that have endeared her to generations. But she has never told the story of her life before fame. Until now. In Home: A Memoir of My Early Years, Julie takes her readers on a warm, moving, and often humorous journey from a difficult upbringing in war-torn Britain to the brink of international stardom in America. Her memoir begins in 1935, when Julie was born to an aspiring vaudevillian mother and a teacher father, and takes readers to 1962, when Walt Disney himself saw her on Broadway and cast her as the world's most famous nanny. Along the way, she weathered the London Blitz of World War II; her parents' painful divorce; her mother's turbulent second marriage to Canadian tenor Ted Andrews, and a childhood spent on radio, in music halls, and giving concert performances all over England. Julie's professional career began at the age of twelve, and in 1948 she became the youngest solo performer ever to participate in a Royal Command Performance before the Queen. When only eighteen, she left home for the United States to make her Broadway debut in The Boy Friend, and thus began her meteoric rise to stardom. Home is filled with numerous anecdotes, including stories of performing in My Fair Lady with Rex Harrison on Broadway and in the West End, and in Camelot with Richard Burton on Broadway; her first marriage to famed set and costume designer Tony Walton, culminating with the birth of their daughter, Emma; and the call from Hollywood and what lay beyond. Julie Andrews' career has flourished over seven decades. From her legendary Broadway performances, to her roles in such iconic films as The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hawaii, 10, and The Princess Diaries, to her award-winning television appearances, multiple album releases, concert tours, international humanitarian work, best-selling children's books, and championship of literacy, Julie's influence spans generations. Today, she lives with her husband of thirty-eight years, the acclaimed writer/director Blake Edwards; they have five children and seven grandchildren. Featuring over fifty personal photos, many never before seen, this is the personal memoir Julie Andrews' audiences have been waiting for.
"Andrews, who has written several children's books (The Great American Mousical; Mandy), both solo and with her daughter, now dances in a different direction with this delightful remembrance of her own childhood and engrossing prelude to her cinematic career. Spanning events from her 1935 birth to the early 1960s, she covers her rise to fame and ends with Walt Disney casting her in Mary Poppins (1963). Setting the stage with a family tree backdrop, she balances the sad struggles of relatives and hard drinkers with mirthful family tales and youthful vocal lessons amid rationing and the London Blitz: 'My mother pulled back the blackout curtains and gasped — for there, snuggly settled in the concrete square of the courtyard, was the incendiary bomb.' A BBC show led to a London musical at age 12: 'My song literally stopped the show. People rose to their feet and would not stop clapping.' Her mother's revelation of her true father left her reeling when she was 15, but she continued touring, did weekly BBC broadcasts and was Broadway-bound by 1954 to do The Boyfriend. The heart of her book documents the rehearsals, tryouts and smash 1956 opening of My Fair Lady. Readers will rejoice, since Andrews is an accomplished writer who holds back nothing while adding a patina of poetry to the antics and anecdotes throughout this memoir of bittersweet backstage encounters and theatrical triumphs." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Why on Earth would Julie Andrews decide to write an autobiography? There's no question that her life is eminently worth recounting: Though 'Home' politely but firmly shuts the door on her readers in 1963, before she'd made a single movie, her first 27 years turn out to have been rich in both fame and misfortune. But Andrews herself has rarely shown the kind of appetite for public introspection that... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) suggests a natural memoirist. She 'submits to an interview like a Victorian wife submits to sex,' a reporter complained in the 1970s. Even in her best-known screen roles, Andrews is sunny but cool. Questions about her back story are not encouraged. As biographer Richard Stirling notes, she simply glides in from the sky ('Mary Poppins'), the sticks ('Thoroughly Modern Millie') or a nunnery ('The Sound of Music') and triumphs on the strength of her best-foot-forward approach and, of course, her radiant soprano. That voice was, we learn in 'Home,' a meal ticket before the little girl who possessed it knew how singular her talent was. Born in 1935, Andrews grew up in a struggling family that made sure she had singing lessons even if that meant she had to perform in socks full of holes. Urged onto the stage by her mother, a pianist with fierce showbiz ambition, the child prodigy was toted all over England, from music hall to radio show to command performance. Well before she was out of her teens, she had endured her parents' divorce, more than one attempt at molestation by her alcoholic stepfather and her mother's decision to pull her out of school the minute it was legal so that she could work more. Andrews wondered at the time how she'd ever get an education; her mother, meanwhile, threw a party, she dryly notes, 'to celebrate my "liberation."' One night, on the way home from yet another fete at which she'd been made to sing, Andrews was told by her mother that the stranger for whom she had just performed was her actual father, a one-night stand from 14 years earlier. 'I tried to react carefully,' Andrews writes. 'Keeping my eyes on the road, I said something banal like "Oh, that's interesting. How do you know?"' Small wonder that when she was offered a contract for the 1954 Broadway musical 'The Boy Friend,' she experienced only slight anguish before putting an ocean's distance between herself and her childhood. At 19, she was a star; at 20, opening opposite Rex Harrison in 'My Fair Lady,' she was on her way to becoming an international phenomenon. As a storyteller, Andrews is evocative and evasive in equal measure. Andrews is someone who has always tried to do what is asked of her, and although 'Home,' written with the encouragement, research assistance and interviewing skills of her daughter Emma, is commendably thoughtful, it sometimes has the feeling of a portrait that has been painstakingly coaxed from a less than enthusiastic subject, especially when Andrews' public life begins. A staggering parade of celebrities — Ingrid Bergman, Truman Capote, Grace Kelly, Laurence Olivier, Helen Keller — pays homage at Andrews' dressing room doors; each of them is politely described. (Capote was 'diminutive'; Bergman was 'tall.') We hear of Harrison's imperious surliness and Richard Burton's drinking, but no more than is necessary. Andrews writes with passion about her own experiences on stage — the passages about her learning to sing and act the part of Eliza Doolittle are among the best in the book — but her innate discretion renders her sketches of others less vivid than they might have been. She seems to sense the problem, too: 'In those days I walked with giants,' she writes. 'Why didn't I think to ask the hundreds of questions that haunt me today whenever I think about them? I suppose I was too busy finding out who I was.' That may have been a tall order, since, according to her first husband, Tony Walton, Andrews, as a child, kept diaries that were 'fanciful images of what a beautiful, happy life she had ... when in reality it was pretty seedy.' Home is at its most moving when you feel her struggle to unlock emotions that she has long kept at arm's length — her feelings about her mother, about her stepfather and about that unknown man who turned out to be her father (dispatched from Andrews' life, and from the book, in two wrenching paragraphs that show the actress at her toughest). Stirling's 'Julie Andrews,' which bills itself as 'an intimate biography' but is actually even less intimate than 'Home,' does, at least, cover the next 45 years of her life. Though Stirling talked to Andrews a few times over the years, on the evidence of his book, their conversations primarily covered a period that is conveyed more effectively by the actress' own book. And as his chronology moves through Andrews' film career and marriage to Blake Edwards, he eventually succumbs to a march through her considerable list of movies, award shows and public appearances. As clip-job bios go, however, Stirling's has its strengths: Learning that Andrews will sue the pants off of anyone who libels her, 'swears like a Marine' and has a bawdy sense of humor makes one hope she'll try her hand at a more revealing second volume. Given Andrews' formidable circumspection, that seems unlikely. 'I cannot say in all honesty that I knew her any better at the end of those seven years than I did at the beginning,' wrote Alan Jay Lerner, the lyricist of 'My Fair Lady' and 'Camelot.' Thanks to 'Home,' we do — but only a little. Mark Harris is the author of 'Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood.'" Reviewed by Mark Harris, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
(hide most of this review)
Many know Julie Andrews from "The Sound of Music" and "Mary Poppins." In this memoir, she looks back on her early years with an aspiring Vaudeville mom and a loving dad and her role in "Camelot" with Richard Burton at age 20.
"A frank, intriguing memoir."
--People "Painfully shrewd, and written with real delicacy and pathos."
--The New York Times Book Review "Home reflects the very qualities that first made the working-class English singer a star 45 years ago: intelligence, gentle humor, and a clear, sweet, surprisingly powerful voice . . . In warmly nostalgic later chapters, the book begins to glow."
--Entertainment Weekly "A delightful remembrance of her own childhood, and an engrossing prelude to her cinematic career . . . Andrews is an accomplished writer who holds back nothing while adding a patina of poetry to the antics and anecdotes throughout this memoir of bittersweet backstage encounters and theatrical triumphs."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Frank and fascinating . . . Andrews comes across as plainspoken, guilelessly charming and resoundingly tough."
--Time In Home: A Memoir of My Early Years, Julie Andrews takes her readers on a warm, moving, and often humorous journey from a difficult upbringing in war-torn Britain to the brink of international stardom in America.
We all know Julie Andrews from The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins, but few people know the story of her road to fame. In this memoir, Julie Andrews& nbsp; takes us from her early years with an aspiring Vaudeville mom and a loving dad, to her parents??? divorce and mother??'s remarriage to a difficult stepfather. Julie has kept diaries her whole life, so every anecdote in her memoir is very fresh and immediate.& nbsp; There are incredible scenes of the London Blitz during WWII; at age nine, she was the only kid on the street who was able to identify the sound of the German bombers, and it was her job to warn the whole neighborhood when they were coming. Julie??'s mother was in musical theater with her stepdad, and Julie spent her entire youth traveling to& nbsp; venues all over the country. She performed for the Queen at age 12, and by the time she was a young teen, she was supporting her entire family because her stepdad was an alcoholic.& nbsp; A few of her roles were more glamorous during this time, but she was always the performer with holes in her socks because she never had any money. At age 19, Julie tried out for the role in ???The Boyfriend, ??? which was opening on Broadway in New York. She got the part and flew here, was a smash in the play, and then starred in ???My Fair Lady??? with Rex Harrison. The book carries through her role in ???Camelot??? with Richard Burton, at age 20, after which her daughter was born. There are great anecdotes about the actors and actresses of her day; her voice is humorous, warm, and lively; and this is just an incredible memoir. There are tons of never-before-seen photos, too.
About the Author
Julie Andrews' career has flourished over seven decades. Most recently she's played the queen in both the Princess Diaries and Shrek films. Her bestselling children's books include The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, Mandy, and The Great American Mousical. She currently lives with her husband of 38 years, the acclaimed film director Blake Edwards, and they have five children and seven grandchildren.
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