Despite the fact that my dad introduced me The Sound of Music at a very young age, I didn't know very much about Julie Andrews. I can't even remember seeing Mary Poppins more than once though The Sound of Music was a repeatedly viewed film during my childhood. When I found this in the bargain bin, I was certainly sold because it's Julie Andrews, and I quite liked the book and her voice.
In my head I have a picture of Julie Andrews as proper but fun, slightly naive - basically, it's hard not to start thinking of her as her character Maria. This book certainly shows that she is very classy. There were points throughout the book where she could have viciously gossiped or made biting remarks about people, but she didn't do that. She would explain the situation, provide a comment, but not drag anything through the mud or treat them too harshly. For example, she describes being disappointed by her manager when he raised his percentage and she trustingly signed his contract without realizing this part, but beyond acknowledging that this changed their relationship, she does not attempt to settle any scores or rehash old drama.
The book follows Andrews through her childhood, introducing her somewhat unorthodox upbringing, her first successes on stage, through to her first musical on Broadway, her follow on role in "My Fair Lady," and ends with Andrews married, with her first child, enroute to Disney to take on the role of Mary Poppins.
I was actually amazed by the family situation that Andrews described - Andrews loved both of he parents though she trusted her father more. Her mother was a pianist, divorced Julie's father and married another performer, and it is through them that Andrews eventually ended up performing. As she becomes more successful, Andrews feels more and more responsible for taking care of the family in all senses of the term, financially paying for the family home, looking after her younger half brothers and even looking after her mother. While it is easy for the reader to judge this relationship, and wonder at the amount of responsibility Andrews had thrust upon her at an early age, Andrews is not resentful at all, which is truly admirable.
While it is not necessarily a tell all, I feel like Andrews opened up quite a bit and revealed a lot about her life (Pat Benatar's memoir for example not only didn't have any juicy gossip, it didn't feel like it revealed much about her though it was nice to read about her musical career). I would definitely be interested in checking out a book about her later successes, but I feel like she ended it in a good place since most people are probably more familiar with what happened once she made it to film anyway.