I like reading autobiographies better than biographies. I’m not so interested in an objective discussion of someone or an analysis of a person. If I find a person interesting I’m interested in her (or his) personal point of view.
Somehow, all the memoirs that have left their mark in my memory, except for one, were writtten by women. (Prof. David Crystal’s “Just a Phrase I’m going through” is the exception. I read it after I had heard him speak in Jerusalem over two years ago and enjoyed it very much). Two examples that come to my mind first are Katherine Graham’s riveting “Personal History” and Madeleine Albright’s “Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War” .
Julie Andrew’s childhood is also one intertwined with war. She was actually sent to live in London (from the countryside) in 1939. When she was finally evacuated it was to the countryside directly in the path of the bombing… She tells of a childhood in which she had to grow up quickly – appearing on stage at an early age and having to be the responsible adult when her mother (and step father) were certainly not keeping up with their responsibilities. Always amazing how someone can appear on stage fearlessly yet have so many fears in “real life”.
I grew up with the soundtrack of “Mary Poppins”. In those days there was no VCR or DVD so I hadn’t seent the movie often but I had the record! I loved Dick Van Dyke too, by the way. And then of course came “Sound of Music”.
She writes without self pity and without being “shmaltzy” of her memories. The book has a subtitle “A memoir of my early years ” so I don’t know if she gets to the part describing what must have been a traumatic experience for her – not being able to sing anymore. Haven’t finished the book yet so don’t know where exactly she leaves off.