Grade: A +
I haven’t read many memoirs but every time I do, I typically think, “Memoirs are wonderful – I should read more of them.” But being non-fiction, somehow memoirs are harder for me to get through, even when I’m enjoying them – a good novel I can typically plow through in less than a week, given appropriate reading time. A good memoir will take me at least 2 weeks, probably more. I started reading Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews shortly after Christmas and finished it two days ago. Being sick with the stomach bug gave me more time for reading (when I wasn’t doing stomach bug things) but it still felt slow going even though it was good.
I’m often amazed reading a good memoir that all those remarkable things can actually have happened to one person. All the same elements of a great book are usually present – comedy, love, drama, tragedy – and it’s all miraculously true. Andrews delivers a powerful punch in her memoir, which tells not only the story of her childhood and first several years in theater, but also the stories of her parents, grandparents, great grandparents and aunts and uncles – not to mention back stories to several of her friends and acquaintances. Andrews reminds me a lot of my grandmother and my mother-in-law, in that she seems to have taken the time to truly know everybody she meets – a quality I greatly admire – and I think it really added something special to her story.
I loved learning so many things about Julie Andrews that I never expected, like about her time in World War II as a child, and her parent’s rocky marriage(s), about how early in her career she thought she’d never be good at acting at all and considered herself pretty unspectacular – a word I don’t think anybody would use to describe The Julie Andrews! She also includes a lot of factual tidbits about voice training, the theatre, history and even housework tips! This memoir really had it all and I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend it.