Book Review: “Home” by Julie Andrews

I’m not a huge audiobook fan–but I’m even less of a long-drive-on-my-own fan. So when I was planning on visiting my sister during Spring Break, I figured I’d pick up an audiobook to occupy me on the drive up and down. After browsing the library’s collection for what seemed like forever, finding little that interested me, I finally settled on Julie Andrew’s Home read by the author herself.

It turned out I didn’t listen to it on the way up to my sister’s–I was too worked up about other things and needed that couple of hours to pray. I did start the discs on my way back home. And since it’s now springtime when I riding places (on my bicycle) rather than driving, I’ve been listening to Home in my car for weeks now. When you’re listening in fifteen minute chunks or less, it takes an awful long time to get through a book–especially when those listening times are pretty infrequent.

The first few chapters of this title weren’t that interesting to me. Andrews starts her story with a short biography of her parents and then reports her life chronologically. She goes into quite a bit of detail that is frankly boring. Only the melodious qualities of Andrews’ voice kept me listening.

Once Andrews got her first Broadway gig, singing the part of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, the content suddenly picked up and I started sitting in my garage to finish a chapter after a jaunt around the town. Julie speaks of the people she met, the plays and shows she did, the places she lived, and the experience of traveling back and forth from England to America.

The story at this point probably appealed to me the most because of my long-time infatuation with My Fair Lady. I loved hearing about the antics Rex Harrison pulled on set and the difficulties Andrews had learning a Cockney accent. I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes stories, the differences between the Broadway and the London shows, and the struggles of maintaining a voice during a 7-show-a-week Broadway run. Likewise, I enjoyed Andrews’ reminisces about working with Richard Burton in Camelot.

I wonder if I would be more inclined to recommend this book if I had read it rather than listening to it. Since silent reading is much faster than reading outloud, I probably could have easily skimmed through Andrews’ early life and gotten right to the exciting bits of her stage career instead of being bogged down with hours of girlhood anecdotes that seem to have little meaning in the overall framework of the story.

As it is, I can only give this lukewarm ratings. Andrews’ (physical) voice is always beautiful and her stage career is fascinating–but I couldn’t care about the lukewarm facts and anecdotes Andrews shared from her childhood. It was as if Andrews’ (authorly) voice abruptly shifted halfway through the title, from being a dispassionate historian of her childhood to being a refined but slightly gossipy actress reminiscing about old times. If the book had been cut in half, telling only the story of Andrews’ Broadway days, I would have been much more delighted.

Rating: 2 Stars
Category: Memoir
Synopsis: Julie Andrews reminisces about her life from birth through her Broadway career immediately prior to starring in the Walt Disney film Mary Poppins
Recommendation: If this book had been split in half and only the second half published, it would have been a much stronger book and worthy of my recommendation. As it is, it’s a take-it-or-leave-it title.

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