Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews

Like the iconic nanny who made her an international star, Julie Andrews’s second memoir is brisk, no-nonsense—a spit-spot, spot-on walk through the crowded hours of her prime Hollywood career. But Home Work is also eloquently introspective, and further proof, if any were needed, that Andrews’s personal life has been anything but “practically perfect in every way.” The title is a play on her best-selling 2008 memoir, Home: A Memoir of My Early Years, but it does double duty as a meditation on the challenges of work-life balance for a brilliant career woman whose reality has always been more Mrs. Banks than Mary Poppins.

Andrews and James Garner in The Americanization of Emily, 1964.

So, Andrews’s charming, well-told accounts of the making of Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and 10 share these 300-plus pages with her candid exploration of a complicated domestic existence. She recounts the friendly breakup of her first marriage, to the British scenic-and-costume designer Tony Walton (their daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, is the co-author of Home Work, along with several other books by Andrews); her second tumultuous but enduring marriage, to the screenwriter and director Blake Edwards; and their raising of her daughter, his two children by a previous marriage, and the two Vietnamese girls they adopted together.