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Customer Review

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable testimony for future generations, provides fun, reveals the story of a lady who is a movie icon, 15 May 2007
This review is from: Julie Andrews: An intimate biography (Hardcover)
This is a remarkable book about a woman who remains a legend and a very special icon of the 20th Century. Julie Andrews is loved by millions. She is an astonishing performer although some sceptical critics view her with less sympathy and admiration. In some point, she is controversial. But that too makes her a unique phenomenon.

She illuminated the stages of Broadway and the screen images of Hollywood. And by doing so, she made it with glamour and such an elegance that is very hard to define.

I found this book very much appealing, with an attractive and well organized narrative. It is precise in little details about names and dates. Pointing out every work of Julie and the circumstances that surrounded every film, every stage play and every television show. And making reference to the projects for which Julie might have been invited; or to those she might really have accepted. (An interesting part in Michael Powell's «Peeping Tom» would have been attractive; or a movie directed by her friend Mike Nichols or by French director François Truffaut.)

The book tells us the story of Dame Julie in a regular chronological order. But sometimes it reverses the order of the events to emphasize a specific idea or emotion. That strategy works really well - as when the book starts in 1997, at the dramatic point when Julie lost her voice. Certainly that was one of the most difficult moments in her life; and induced profound changes in all her work and in the directions of her career. That period must have been a key period in which Julie had to face herself and had to lead with her own identity - an identity she had built through the magic clearness of her voice. So it sounds pertinent to me that the narrative starts from June 1997 at Manhattan's Mount Sinai Hospital.

Dame Julie made herself a star through that bright and luminous voice. The book emphasizes the key contributions of her singing teacher and her stepfather Ted Andrews from whom she adopted the name. Back in the late nineties, how could she face a life without singing, a life without that expression of artistic beauty? Singing must have been as natural to her as breathing! In fact, she is not only a singer. She is much more than that. (And this book reveals all the levels in which she is so well gifted.) As a consequence of that, she declared in the beginning of the new century she was as busy as ever.

Her life has translated a permanent devotion to her work and to her family. The book explores this double existence of Julie: the universe of her work and the universe of her family. Both were joined quite happily through her marriage with director Blake Edwards.

Richard Stirling knows personally Dame Julie and has interviewed her several times. He is quite direct in the analysis of her work and he discusses the limitations of some projects in which she honestly tried to do her best. After all, Julie Andrews is always competing with herself, with what people expect of her. After «My Fair Lady», «Mary Poppins» and «The Sound of Music», she had reached a high level - the highest level a movie star can achieve.

Stirling talks about the difficulty of Julie in becoming a star but discipline and hard work were never obstacles to her success. The book also reveals the pressures and demands that were imposed to her while her work meant a lot of money to a lot of people - specifically those years in which she was considered the most famous and well paid actress in Hollywood. Those were days, time was not enough to make all the correct choices. There was a lot of anxiety; and too many responsibilities.

The book is methodically organized in chapters that somehow divide the different steps in Julie's life. And at the end of it, the reader expects to read some more. Richard Stirling made a good evaluation of the facts and he succeeded to build a complete and insightful essay about Dame Julie. The edition is completed with a few pages presenting photographs; but the richness of the book lies in the text itself. This is a great document and a testimony for the future generations. There are already some books about Julie Andrews. This may well be the best of them. For Dame Julie's fans and to all of those who like movies, music and stage shows. I highly recommend it.
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Location: Lisboa, Portugal

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