Brian Simcoe, August 20, 2012 (view all comments by Brian Simcoe)
Oh Julie, my Julie! The delights and frights of your memoir were most exhilarating. In fact, in reading it, I was nearly transported back in time to that dusty and romantic world of vaudeville, the early days of Broadway, and the life of a young girl tossing about on the high seas of the theatre life, trying to find her bearings. Your humor made me laugh out loud. Your insight inspired me. Thanks for letting us take the journey with you.
Anne R from Maryland, February 10, 2010 (view all comments by Anne R from Maryland)
For those of us who grew up watching Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music and listening to the original cast albums of My Fair Lady and Camelot, Julie Andrews has always been something of an idol. This, the first volume of her memoirs, confirms the impression I've always had of her as not just a fine actress and glorious singer, but a thoughtful and gracious lady, too.
"Home" is really two books: one about growing up in 1940s and 1950s England in a family that can only be described as dysfunctional, and one about her great theatrical successes in The Boyfriend (when she was only 19), My Fair Lady, and Camelot. I found the first book much more interesting. Relating her early life, she recaptures the feelings of the girl she was while interpreting them from the vantage point of the woman she has become. Discussing her bitter, alcoholic mother, her frightening stepfather, and her career as a child performer in music halls (vaudeville) and major family breadwinner, she is never angry, just thoughtful, analytical, and generous. Her childhood was not lacking in joy: she adored her kindhearted father, reveled in her developing powers as a singer, and found an occasional haven as an honorary member of the family of her best friend, who became her first husband. For those of us who have read many accounts of British life in the war and post-war years, this one is particularly interesting as being about ordinary, middle-class people (two of Andrews’s grandparents had been servants) rather than members of the upper classes.
Beginning with her Broadway success in The Boyfriend, the memoir takes a different turn. Her account of the shows she appeared in and the famous people she worked with have a rote-like quality, as though she knew she had to write about these things but wasn’t very interested in them. There are certainly some wonderful behind-the-scenes stories, but I missed the personal voice that told us how these experiences affected her. This is why I give it the book only 4 stars.
Nonetheless, this book is a must for theater buffs and lovers of good memoirs of the period as well as Julie Andrews fans. In an era of relentlessly self-indulgent screen stars, how refreshing it is to spend time with a lady who embodies the graciousness of a bygone age.
Many know 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. b&w photos throughout.
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