Review: Home Work: A Memoir of my Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER 
In this follow-up to her critically acclaimed memoir, Home, Julie Andrews shares reflections on her astonishing career, including such classics as Mary PoppinsThe Sound of Music, and Victor/Victoria.

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

  • Title: Home Work: A Memoir of my Hollywood Years
  • Author: Julie Andrews
  • Publisher: Hachette Books
  • Genre: Non-fiction, Autobiography, Memoir, History, 
  • Targeted Age Range: Adult
  • Trigger Warnings: Frequent drug abuse mention, suicide mention, parental abuse, depression, mental health, drug and alcohol dependency (No specific chapters, as this is is a constant theme throughout the book and is almost always mentioned in every chapter)
  • Rating:  ★★★★☆

            I’ve always admired Dame Julie Andrews. I don’t particularly like the concepts of an idol, but if I had to pick one, it would be her. Not only is she a wonderful actress, but she’s also a wonderful human as well, supporting various charities and humanitarian appeals, going so far as chairing various committees as well. It’s a shame, really, that those facts get overlooked for her more glamorous Hollywood career. That being said, this book was a lovely read. I’ve been a fan of hers since I was a kid, loving her singing voice and charisma on screen. In fact, Mary Poppins is one of my favourite movies to watch with my dad! Home Work: A Memoir of my Hollywood Years was a delightful and insightful read, perfect for any fan of Julie Andrews.

            Julie Andrews approached this project with an air of authenticity, exposing the hardship she and her family faced during her most successful years in Hollywood. From struggling with money, to her husband’s ongoing battle with depression and substance abuse, Julie Andrews reflects honestly and openly about what she went through in these times. I learned a lot about her reading this book, and I feel as if I have a greater appreciation for her as a person, separate from her acting career. 

            I think one of the hardest parts about reviewing an autobiography is knowing that you’re reading from someone else’s perspective. As one would assume, a lot of the first part of the book is about the lead up and eventual performance in Mary Poppins. Predominantly, Julie Andrews speaks about the Walt Disney Company, going as far to say that someone once told her “you don’t last very long at the company if you were mean-spirited or mean-tempered” (page 18, paragraph 3, line 8). This was hard to digest, considering the Walt Disney Company is arguably nothing but mean-spirited and mean-tempered, considering their treatment of their park employees in the midst of a pandemic, and their outrageous attempt at trademarking Latnix culture, and let’s not forget they filmed a majority of Mulan in a region of China that is imprisoning and more than one million Chinese Uighur Muslims, without acknowledging the breach of human rights. Overall, it’s hard to read Julie Andrews’ recount praising a company, and referring to it in a positive manner, when it clearly isn’t a positive company. 

            Julie Andrews, with the help of her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, writes in a style that is easy and quick to read. It’s mainly straight to the point, not bothering to waste time and pages with unnecessary details, and this leaves an authentic and honest feel to the chapters. She’s not disguising the recount behind endless description or unnecessary details – she’s telling us what’s important, and why. It’s important to note that, as the title suggests, this book is predominantly her career in film. Julie Andrews has another book out titled Home which focuses on her childhood and stage career, so if that’s something you would prefer to read, I would recommend that one. Of course, I haven’t read it so I can’t speak about whether or not it’s a good read, but if it’s anything like this one then I’m sure it will be.

            My favourite part about this book was the discussion of her humanitarian work. Julie Andrews speaks in depth about the work she did in Vietnam during the suffering they faced during and post the Vietnam War. It was something I didn’t know about her, and I was very interested in learning about the fundraisers and committees she chaired in order to support the suffering country. Julie Andrews is a founding member of Operation USA, in which supplies, and relief were airlifted to Vietnam during the aftermath of the Vietnam War. You can read more about her work with Operation USA here

            Overall, this was an enjoyable way to start off my 2021 reading year. I went into Home Work: A  Memoir of my Hollywood Years with an already present appreciation for Julie Andrews and left with it being increased. This book showcases the best and worst parts of her life; allowing readers inside her mind and experiences during the golden age of Hollywood. With diary entries sprinkled throughout, we get an authentic look on her life, all while leaving it open for a third book (and I hope we get one!). This book is perfect for theatre and film fans alike, or even those just simply wanting to learn more about the woman behind Mary Poppins. Home Work will tell you why she is simply practically perfect in every way. 

Goodreads | TheStorygraph | Bookshop | Indie Bound

Julie Andrews is one of the most recognized figures in the entertainment industry. Her legendary career encompasses the Broadway and London stages, blockbuster Hollywood films, award-winning television shows, multiple album releases and concert tours and the world of children’s publishing. Andrews’ dedication to children has been steadfast throughout her career. She began writing books for young readers over thirty-five years ago and her first two novels – MANDY and THE LAST OF THE REALLY GREAT WHANGDOODLES -remain in print and in high demand.  She has also co-authored over 30 picture books, novels and Early Readers with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, including the #1 New York Times best-selling series, THE VERY FAIRY PRINCESS, JULIE ANDREWS’ COLLECTION OF POEMS, SONGS AND LULLABIES (the audio-book for which garnered the mother/daughter team a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children), the LITTLE BO and DUMPY THE DUMP TRUCK series, the medieval fable SIMEON’S GIFT, the middle grade novels THE GREAT AMERICAN MOUSICAL and DRAGON: Hound of Honor, and the #1 New York Times Best-seller THANKS TO YOU: Wisdom from Mother and Child.

The best-selling mother-daughter team also collaborated on Andrews’ two bestselling memoirs, HOME: A MEMOIR OF MY EARLY YEARS and HOMEWORK: A MEMOIR OF MY HOLLYWOOD YEARS (Hachette). Together they head-up “The Julie Andrews Collection” publishing program, dedicated to publishing quality children’s books that “nurture the imagination and celebrate a sense of wonder.”  Their books embrace themes of integrity, creativity, nature and the arts.

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