“What should I read?”
“Her memoirs. Definitely the first one.”
That was Emma Walton Hamilton’s suggestion for how best to prepare for an interview about her mother, Julie Andrews.
Julie Andrews’s two memoirs, Home, and Home Work, are at once heartbreaking and awe-inspiring. While reading them, I toggled between listening to Julie’s narration via audiobook and reading words on a page. I was struck by how differently I absorbed the material depending on the medium. That is, when I listened — to that familiar dulcet voice, made still warmer with age — so thoroughly had I absorbed its calming effect over the years, I found it hard to feel the darkness of the material. But then, when I switched to the words as written, their full weight landed.
How on earth did she emerge from all that so optimistic, her view of the world untainted by her own unhappy experiences? The answer: Because that’s who Julie Andrews is, luminous at her core.
For the holidays, we’re revisiting Katie’s conversation with Emma Walton Hamilton, daughter of the extraordinary Julie Andrews, about her mom’s difficult childhood and her determination to give her own children stability and, above all, constant love.
Emma, it turns out, is every bit as radiant as her mother. In our interview, she talked about her mother’s innocence, well into adulthood, a true surprise given the effect that parts of her childhood could have had on her. She talked about the insights she had when read through her mother’s journals. And she talked about the bond that doesn’t quit.
Emma and her mother have written more than 30 children’s books together. (If you haven’t dipped into The Very Fairy Princess series, you haven’t lived.) And they co-host the podcast Julie’s Library.
Art by Paula Mangin
Music by Andrea Perry
Producer: Alice Hudson
Please contribute to the mother word cloud, with your one word to describe your mother.
A very special thanks to Liz Mitchell for permission to use her beautiful version of You Are My Sunshine.