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on 16 October 2008
I was enthralled from the very first page.

Julie Walters is not only a brilliant actress, she is also an incredibly vibrant, interesting and honest writer. This autobiography is not just about Julie Walters, the actress, but is also a fantastic observation of growing up in the fifties and sixties.

The characters in Julie's life - her mother, her grandmother, her neighbours, friends - are vividly drawn, and even the most difficult people are portrayed through the eyes of genuine love and understanding. She portrays the richness, joy and sadness of her family life with an honesty that left me breathless. She is also open and honest about herself and her experiences, which makes this wonderful book even more of an honour to read.

She has such a great way of describing things and engaging the reader that I frequently laughed out loud and burst into tears - sometimes simultaneously!

If I sound a bit over the top about this book - I'm not. I've read a lot of autobiographies and this is the best I have ever read, bar none.

Having read this book I now understand what makes Julie Walters such an outstanding actress. She observes without judgement and seeks to understand always the 'whys' of what people do and say. Reading this book taught me something about myself - no mean feat in an autobiography!

I loved her joy and enthusiasm for all the experiences that being an actress brings, and she paints it all so vividly within the pages of this book. She seems utterly unpretentious and I would love to meet her!

In fact, having read this book, I feel I already have......
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on 28 October 2008
I do enjoy a good autobiography, and I much prefer autobiography to biography. Julie is undoubtedly a legendary British actress who deserves all the praise and accolades that have been heaped upon her during her career. I'd been hoping for an autobiography and was delighted to learn it was published.

Initially I found it rather a heavy read, perhaps rather slow to get started. I felt that Julie was finding her feet in a new (for her) medium of expression. Any such shackles were soon discarded and the book became very readable, indeed there were times when I found it very hard to put down, but I wanted to make the book last rather than finish it in a couple of days!

Having now finished it I feel as though I'm a close personal friend, but surely that's the sign of a well-executed autobiography in that it fully engages the reader by its conclusion?
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on 11 December 2008
I am and have been a fan of Julie Walters for many many years. I STILL watch "As Seen On TV" whenever I need cheering up and love Petula Gordino with a passion, so was thrilled when this book hit my doormat.
However for me it is a book of two distinct halves. The first half covers her childhood and "pre-fame" years and is detailed, funny and quite frank. You get a real sense of Julie's "voice" in the writing and I was reading avidly, getting very excited about the prospect of this detail and frankness being applied to her famous roles.
That's where the problem with the book lies.
After the detail and insight of her stories regarding her youth, Julie glosses over her famous career in an oddly cavalier fashion. I read just over a page or so on her various work with Victoria Wood and thought "That must be a teaser, she'll come back to it", but NO. That was IT! This technique was repeated constantly. Calendar Girls was not discussed AT ALL, Dinnerladies only briefly mentioned, Mrs Weasley covered in about four sentences...I could go on.
This is especially disappointing after the depth and honesty of the first half. She is very candid about her parents and her relationship with them, but once the spectre of "fame" enters the book she becomes very guarded and highly selective with information.
Her marriage and relocation to Sussex is almost mentioned "in passing" and I don't think she even refers to her daughter's serious illness, surely a defining moment in her life? Not that I expected her to trot out all the painful details, but to ignore it completely seemed decidedly odd and at the end of the book "odd" is the feeling I was left with. It seems as if Julie was able to be candid about her own personal history and that of her parents, because they have both passed away, but unable to be equally candid about her career, because it intersects with lives of people still living.
Did she receive alot of pressure from various people not to talk about certain events or particular roles? Did she just avoid talking about movies she didn't like making, or actors/actresses that she didn't get on with? Who can say?
I do understand a desire to be sensitive about writing of events that include other people, BUT if you are going to write an autobiography then I believe that you should be prepared to treat ALL events in your life with equal frankness. That's what writing "your story" is about. It is a brave act that requires openness and a willingness to let your readers "in". Ultimately, that's what disappointed me, that such a fantastic and open actress could succumb to the temptation to edit the story of her career to such an extent that it tells us nothing of her as a person that we didn't learn FAR more effectively in the "non-career" section of the book.
Sadly, though it pains me to say it, this could have been so much more.
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At the back of this book is a list of all the television and film work that Walters has done in her long and highly successful career. It makes for fascinating reading and takes several pages. This does not include her equally enthralling theatre work.

When you realise quite how much she has done in her career you also realise that a book like this is never going to cram it all in. This is the sadness for me. I felt that the first half of the book was a rich and leisurely journey through Walter's early years. Her childhood and her training ground as a young actress.

Then as the work rolls in and the credits mount up it all gallops on apace in a rushed manner and this I was a little disappointed in. She never loses the great quality of being personal and inclusive in her writing. You almost feel that she is having you round for tea and a gossip, but you do feel towards the end that she might be looking at her watch, wanting you to hurry up so she can get on with things.

I am hoping this means there is another volume in the pipe line. I wanted to know more about her married life, although I understand her reluctance to thrust her daughter and husband into the limelight. I wanted to know more about her work on Calendar Girls, given its stellar cast, it's true story and the fact that it was a very woman centric film.

So basically, good as far as it goes, but more please.
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on 4 September 2009
This is a well written book and a real page turner but sadly, apart from her childhood, all we learn about is Walter's public life. Once the section on her early years is over, there are a few amusing theatre and film stories but no real details about how Julie felt during her rise to fame or about the people she worked with. There is even less detail about her personal life - a few lines about her first love who is not named (even though his photo is in the book), and a brief description of how she met her husband but nothing about her daughter's well documented battle with cancer or any other personal details. I want to read an autobiography to find out how the author feels about eveything - professional and private - and sadly this left me disappointed.
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on 26 March 2012
This was selected as a book for a newly formed book club. We all started the book really looking forward to it and met up a few weeks later all very disappointed. We are all fans of Julie Walters and consider her an exceptional actor - however where was she? None of us felt that she was letting us into her life and that it was a list of achievements.
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on 13 March 2012
i was most disappointed with this book i felt it was an old autobigraphy and there wasnt much about the making of the harry potter flims and ma ma mia, juile was done so many great things for film and tv but in this book she onily tells you realy of the tv and not much of her greatnees in flims , she tell you of her growing up and how she made a name for herself [ wich is good] but what i realy would have liked to have know was how she felt to get asked about the great parts she as played in to me the book ended were it should have got realy intresting i was hopeing for more than what i got to be truethfull not one of my best buys as autobiography goes
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VINE VOICEon 23 November 2008
Julie Walters emerges from this book as two different, but complementary personalities. One is the fun loving girl next door with a gift for seeing the funny side of life: the other is the award winning actress.

As a youngster, she was the class clown, covering the social awkwardness of the working-class grammar-school girl with a shield of sharply observed humour. As an adult, she still seems to need the protection of a physical or social mask. This is a woman who feels an emotional need to wear make-up and takes a girlish delight in humour of the seaside-postcard variety.

It's not surprising, then, that one of this book's recurring motifs is the Greek mask - the ultimate symbol of the actor's trade. And it's a trade that she loves. Julie Walters is passionate, confident and eloquent about acting and, above all, about live theatre.

The book starts with an uneven account of Julie's childhood and teenage years in a mish-mash of odd memories loosely themed around the family home in Smethwick. The tone changes and becomes more readable and enjoyable once Julie joins the adult world and starts to pursue her theatrical dreams. It's entertaining, insightful without being navel-gazing, often funny and sometimes just a bit rude.

Most fans of Julie Walters should enjoy this, although her earthiness may be slightly over the top for some (possibly, older) readers. Those of us who only know her through film and television will certainly benefit from finding out about the theatrical roots of this remarkable talent.

Age 0-16 (first 100 pages): 2 stars
Age 17+ : 4 stars
Overall rating : 3-4 stars
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VINE VOICEon 7 December 2010
I'm sorry I left it so long to read this book because it's a joy and a revelation about what makes Julie Walters the actress she is.

It is sort of in chronological order, but the information comes in capsules rather than narrative and that makes it a comfortable read; you don't feel you are being told a life-story by rote. I dare say this style leaves out some things that people might want to know, but for me it is pure Julie Walters, the style is the woman (I know that sounds a bit arty, but it's the only way I can put it.)

The reader gets to inhabit the house she was brought up in and feel the presence of the rest of the family. Her childhood wasn't a tale of deprivation and cruelty, yet it wasn't an easy one for her. She was a sensitive, a worrier and that can make life difficult. It is to her credit that she tells it honestly and without psychobabble - it is just how she was. Anyone who knows her work can then understand where some of her style of acting developed.

I loved the stories about the theatre companies and people she worked with in the 1970s: the vibrance of the plays she worked on is tangible, the excitement comes through time and again and you wish you'd been lucky enough to see those shows.

The tales about the flat in Soho are also to be relished. You could almost hope that the book might be turned into a film one day for the pleasure of seeing it acted in Walters' style.

She is not a great name dropper; there are names, obviously, but they are characters in her story, not stars to be paid homage to. This emphasises the fact that she is a working actress and these are the people she has worked with.

It is not a self-indulgent book, it is straightforward, factual and humorous - what more could you ask for?
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on 8 August 2012
Some autobiographies grab you even though you know nothing about the author ("Speak Swahili, dammit" comes to mind). Much as I like Julie Walters' acting, this book is no more than a series of unconnected snippets, interesting because I like the actress but totally unriveting as a piece of writing.
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