Top critical review
8 people found this helpful
Far from satisfying
on 31 January 2012
I read Richard Stirling's book right after I read Ms. Andrews' own memoir, Home: A Memoir of My Early Years, and, frankly, I was not very satisfied. The only reason I bought it originally was to learn more about Andrews' later life, after she took on the role of Mary Poppins, since her book stops right there.
Having 'Home' very fresh in memory, I found myself terribly puzzled during the first chapters of Stirling's Book. Had he actually consulted with Julie Andrews or had he just clipped newspaper pieces together and made up some information as he went along? Moving on after 'Mary Poppins', Richard Stirling provides some anecdotes which can be considered interesting, but I had a hard time believing them to be true, as he had already lost credibility in my eyes.
Other than that, his style is purely journalistic, combining article-like paragraphs with a copious amount of quotes, some by others, some by Ms. Andrews herself. I didn't have a problem with the latter, but it is elementary to know how to successfully use quotes in one's writing, and I think Mr. Stirling does not. Also, what irritated me immensely was the fact that he very often seemed to attribute everything Julie Andrews had done not to her childhood, not to her character, but -believe it or not- to her zodiac sign! That's right, Julie Andrews would have taken a completely different path in life had she been born at a different time of the year. At least that's what the book had me believe.
I know 'Home' covers only the beginning of Dame Julie Andrews' career, but it is more intimate and offers great insight, as one would expect from an autobiography. It was far more enjoying to 'hear' Andrews' own voice narrating incidents from her life. So, if you have to choose between the two, I'd say go with 'Home'. If you splurge on both, like I did, brace yourselves for a fairly mediocre read: Stirling's book.