Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews

“…and I hated the singing lessons–absolutely hated them.”

TitleHome: A Memoir of My Early Years
Author: Julie Andrews
Genre: memoir (non fiction)
ISBN: 9780786865659
Length: 320 pages
Published: 2008
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Resolutions/Challenges: Memoir/Biography Resolution 2011

Reason(s) for Reading: I always find i a little difficult to pick memoirs or biographies for reading. I have trouble answering the question “Who do I care enough about–or am intrigued by enough to read about their lives?” I have already read many Audrey Hepburn biographies, as I love her. So I asked myself who is another movie star (from the prime of Hollywood) that I care about. (I don’t think memoirs can be written until you reach a certain age, *cough*Justin Bieber*cough*–I’ll wait 50-60 years to read current movie star memoirs). Nevertheless, I came up with Julie Andrews–oddly enough, I think her and Audrey Hepburn both portraying Eliza Doolittle had an affect on my choice.

Summary (from Goodreads):

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 asThe Sound of MusicMary PoppinsThoroughly Modern MillieHawaii,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.

My Thoughts: When Andrews titled this a memoir of her “early” years, I think she chose well. Fore this follows her life through her time on the stage, especially Broadway. Her journey to California to begin her film career with Mary Poppins and her new life as a mother was the ending of this collection of memories. (I hope this means she’ll write a “sequel”, about her later years.)

I really enjoyed reading about her upbringing. And how she gradually made a name for herself as a singer and stage performer. Her family was certainly interesting, with so many “odd” relationships. By which I mean she has lots of half siblings on each side. And her stepfather was interesting. Dod he want to molest her, but just lacked the motivation to actually do it? {In my original written entry about this book, I wrote that “He was a drunk, after all” but reading it made me realize that is quite an assumption for me to make. I’m sure alcoholic and molester are not always paired together. I’m usually good about realizing when I make such a bad assumption.}

Andrews spent most of the book focusing on her time spent on Broadway in My Fair Lady. It was fun to let her introduce me to what happens behind the scenes. I will TOTALLY appreciate actors in musicals from now on. (I have a very long quote–a passage really–about behind the scenes and experiencing the high of performing on stage.)

Quotes/Passages I Liked:

“It was at Clarendon Street that I began really to love reading. My father had taught me to read when I was very young, and it became my salvation. I would curl up in a chair and read for hours…” (p39)

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“‘I have an infallible diet, Moss replied. ‘I do it all the time. Just halve your portions. If you normally have two potatoes for dinner, cut it down to one…That way you don’t deny yourself a thing.'” (p208)

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“Once in a while I experience an emotion onstage that is so gut-wrenching, so heart stopping, that I could weep with gratitude and joy. The feeling catches and magnifies so rapidly that it threatens to engulf me.
It starts as a bass note, resonating deep in my system. Literally. It’s like the warmest, lowest sound from a contrabass. There is a sudden thrill of connection and an awareness of size-the theater itself, more the height of the great stage housing behind and above me, where history has been absorbed, where darkness contains mystery and light has meaning.
Light is a part of it…to be flooded with it to absorb it and allow it through the body.
The dust that has a smell so thick and evocative, one feels one could almost eat it; makeup and sweat, perfume and paint; the vast animal that is an audience warm and pulsing, felt but unseen.
Most of all, it is the music–when a great sweep of sound makes you attempt things that earlier in the day you might never have thought possible. When the orchestra swells to support your voice, when the melody is perfect and the words so right there you could not possibly be any others, when a modulation occurs and lifts you to an even higher plateau…it is bliss. And that is the moment you share it.
One senses the audience feeling it, too, and together you ride the ecstasy all the way home.
There’s that word again. Home.
Then I think there is no more magical feeling, no one luckier than I. It is to do with the joy of being a vessel, being used, using oneself fully and totally in the service of something that brings wonder. If only one could experience this every night.
It is as great as sex…that moment before climax. It is as overwhelming as the mighty ocean. As nurturing as mother’s milk to an infant. As addictive as opium.” (p254-5)

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3 thoughts on “Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews

  1. TBM says:

    Does she hint if she will continue her story?

  2. TBM says:

    She’s one of those rare stars that I admire. So many stars today abuse their status and are obnoxious. I’m glad you enjoyed the book.

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