Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:
Synopsis for Home Work (from Goodreads):
In Home, the number one New York Times international bestseller, Julie Andrews recounted her difficult childhood and her emergence as an acclaimed singer and performer on the stage.
With this second memoir, Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years, Andrews picks up the story with her arrival in Hollywood and her phenomenal rise to fame in her earliest films–Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Andrews describes her years in the film industry — from the incredible highs to the challenging lows. Not only does she discuss her work in now-classic films and her collaborations with giants of cinema and television, she also unveils her personal story of adjusting to a new and often daunting world, dealing with the demands of unimaginable success, being a new mother, the end of her first marriage, embracing two stepchildren, adopting two more children, and falling in love with the brilliant and mercurial Blake Edwards. The pair worked together in numerous films, including Victor/Victoria, the gender-bending comedy that garnered multiple Oscar nominations.
Cowritten with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, and told with Andrews’s trademark charm and candor, Home Work takes us on a rare and intimate journey into an extraordinary life that is funny, heartrending, and inspiring.
Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:
I LOVE Julie Andrews–who doesn’t? She’s just so charming and I think she is a staple for a lot of people’s childhoods. For me, she’s the Queen Grandmother of the Princess Diaries though I know her from other notable works like Sound of Music and Mary Poppins but those were before my time.
Regardless, I was really looking forward to learning more about her times on those famous, classic sets.
I never read her first autobiography/memoir but it didn’t really appeal to me either when I looked into it more because I was more curious about the early Hollywood and Broadway days.
It was really neat to get the inside scoop about all these classic films she had worked on. As a big Disney nut myself, her experience on Mary Poppins fascinated me.
But getting those insights into her personal life and how her various roles affected it was interesting. And she is so open about all her struggles that I really admired that.
I often struggle with memoirs because they can sometimes come across as preachy or just be all about personal philosophy. After reading this book and Elton John’s Me, I’ve discovered I do much better with autobiographies that follow more of a chronological order of events and are laced with reactions at the time and reflections looking back.
The Writing / Listening Experience:
I listened to the audiobook because it is narrated by Julie Andrews. I could listen to her talk all day. She reminds me of my grandmothers so it just felt personal and intimate.
The writing itself is great. I loved how she included diary entries from particular moments in her past because you understood how she felt in that moment–not simply a reflection back through rose-coloured glasses. But overall, there was a great flow to it that kept me listening.
Did it Impact My Life?
I think her story opened my eyes to a few things. I think as a girl, I often struggle with the idea of having a career vs having a family and how they seem to be two mutually exclusive things (though I think that is starting to change with my generation). But when I think about her life, I see how she made calculated decisions to have the career and family life she wanted and to balance it all out.
I also learned a lot about the situation in Vietnam since she adopted from the country. I knew the basics but this helped to give a more human perspective of the situation.
My Rating: 4/5
Simply a well crafted memoir.
Read if You Like: memoirs, early Hollywood
Avoid if You: dislike autobiographies
- Me by Elton John
- If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t) by Betty White