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Home: A Memoir of My Early Years Hardcover – April 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
Andrews' childhood memories are full of self-effacing observations about a most unenviable home life. Belying her image of elegant breeding, she was raised in poverty by an alcoholic mother and a lecherous stepfather during the dwindling days of vaudeville in England. Already a part of her parents' music hall act by age nine, Andrews found she had an acrobatic soprano voice that so astounded the press that she performed for the Queen and became a nightly sensation at the London Palladium. She had a range of over four octaves and yet most tellingly labels her voice "freakishly high". Her talent certainly impressed others more than herself as she became the toast of Broadway and London first in Sandy Wilson's The Boy Friend and then legendarily as Eliza Doolittle and Queen Guinevere in Lerner and Lowe's My Fair Lady and Camelot, respectively. Andrews' professional recollections are full of celebrity dish but not obnoxiously so between Rex Harrison's flatulence, Richard Burton's amorous advances, Cecil Beaton's bitchiness about how she wears his clothes, and impressionable backstage visits from the likes of Laurence Olivier and Ingrid Bergman.
However, the book's most resonant passages focus on her conflicted and still painful memories of her rather dysfunctional family - her late mother, a promising classical pianist who let the bottle overcome her; a philandering grandfather whose indiscretions eventually cost the life of her grandmother; and most harrowing is her stepfather whose violent tendencies instilled an unsettling fear in the young Julie. There are some surprising revelations Andrews willingly shares in that recognizably crisp manner, and reflecting the woman herself, there is no doubt of the personal bravery it took for her to share them. With the inclusion of over fifty personal photos, the 339-page autobiography really whets the appetite for the sequel which I am hopeful is in the works since it will cover her impressive big-screen career. In the meantime, this first volume clearly reflects how she evolved into the iconic persona that is her legacy - classy, disciplined, forthcoming, amusing, a bit starchy, and truly one of the great treasures. I think I still have that crush.
Ms. Andrews' life and career have both been well-documented by biographers, but everything takes on new meaning and becomes personal when told by Ms. Andrews herself. And, of course, there are anecdotes and details that only Ms. Andrews herself can share with her audience, so there is much for even the most devoted fan to learn from this book. Here, she tells the story of her life from her earliest childhood to her career as a child star, from her journey to Broadway and television through to being cast by Walt Disney in MARY POPPINS.
The audiobook on CD is 13 hours long, spread over 11 CDs. Each disc contains seven to ten tracks; some chapters are one track long, and others are two to three tracks long. The production is straightforward and what you would expect of an audiobook -- read clearly, recorded well. Of course, I'd be happy hearing Ms. Andrews read the dictionary to me, but there is something magical and mesmerizing about her voice here, describing her own life.
At the end of the audiobook, Ms. Andrews says, "Thank you for listening." This is the only detail she has wrong -- we, the audience, should be saying to her, "Thank you for telling." I only hope we don't have to wait too long for the next part of the Julie Andrews story...