In this second instalment of her memoirs, Julie Andrews focuses on her work in Hollywood, told in an engaging and warm style.
When you think of Julie Andrews, there are certain images that spring to mind,such as her performances in Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music or Thoroughly Modern Millie. So it is a real delight to get a chance to discover how it was for her to film and learn about the way in which the film industry works in such a frank and honest way.
Beginning with her first film performance in Mary Poppins and taking the reader all the way through to her visit to Vietnam (where her two adopted daughters were originally from),Andrews never hides away from explaining the emotional strain that working in Hollywood took on her and her family over the years. It is this refreshing honesty and down to earth nature style in the writing that makes this such an enjoyable and entertaining read from start to finish.
Throughout the book, Andrews navigates the balance between covering her home life and work life with surprising ease – despite the fact that life at home was never simple, particularly when she was attempting to deal with an alcoholic step father, a brother with who struggled with drugs and her marriage to Blake Edwards that was difficult at times – despite the clear love that both felt for each other.
The style can seem in places as coming across as slightly cautious and keen to stay away from unnecessarily criticising anybody. This in turn can leave the feeling that there are parts of the story that are deliberately being left out. It is fascinating to hear about how much she learnt about the film industry as the more she worked in Hollywood as her experience with Alfred Hitchcock reveals. There are plenty of fond memories and anecdotes of the family and particularly her children that help keep the book grounded and modest – all affectionately retold with great warmth.
There is a brisk pace to it all – necessarily so given the period of time covered in the book and with the help of diary extracts, the reader is left feeling as though they have a greater and more intimate understanding of how Andrews was able to navigate the complications of her life. There is real feeling and heartache that comes through when she refers to her divorce and daughter Emma’s decision to live with her father but also the joy of adopting her two daughters Amelia and Joanna.
If this memoir reveals anything it is how much grit, determination and hard work that Julie Andrews has given to every area of her life and it makes the reader admire her even more. A lively and fascinating read.
By Emma Clarendon
Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years is available to buy now.