When I was at Liverpool University, I joined the Women’s Rugby Union Team and had an amazing time with the girls. It started a love of rugby, primarily international rugby. Sale Sharks would have been our closest local union team but still a distance. We were sponsored by Walkabout – an Aussie themed chain bar – and every England international game we got to sit in there with our discounted food and beer and watch on their big screens the games. I love rugby because I chose it. It’s not like my love of Burnley FC which is so tied in with my dad in memories and emotions. This is something I found for myself with some great friends and in that way it was special. Eddie Jones came to Lingham’s bookshop on Wirral in 2019 promoting the book and I and 499 other people bought tickets to see him. We got a copy of the book too. Here is my view on it.
Eddie Jones is from a Japanese mother and Aussie father, brought up in Sydney. This book follows his life in rugby.
Caveat – I worked in sport publishing for 3.5 years. I have read a lot of sport books. This has to be one of my favourites. Don McRae is an excellent writer and he is the ghost writer. The Guardian Sport Features writer, he is in a very privileged role as he gets to interview some of the most interesting people in sport. From Tatenda Taibu, who had to flee his homeland of Zimbabwe due to threats from the government, to paralympian Ellie Simmonds and then football legend Gary Lineker. Having Don on board is one of the main reasons this book is so good.
No matter how good the story, if the writer is bad it will be bad. On the reverse, no matter how good the writer, if the story is boring… well so is the book. Thankfully, Eddie Jones manages to get himself in enough interesting situations to make this book great. Jones is very honest, showing why he was never good enough to play for the Wallabies even though it was his greatest ambition. I thought it interesting that he was also a teacher and eventual headmaster and he had to choose between education or rugby coaching. Thankfully for England (and Japan) he chose rugby. You can see though that the same effort and determination he puts into rugby he put into his teaching, going in early and staying late to make the new school a success against an education board which seemed dead set on making it fail.
Whilst I appreciate Eddie isn’t going to start slagging off England’s hierarchy as he is still employed by them, he is very frank and honest about his time at some of the other rugby clubs and countries. He shows his dislike for the man above him at the Wallabies and how his own media mistakes cost him certain things. In his own assessment he is clearly his own biggest critic and when looking into the rugby, you get a great insight. My only criticism is that there is not much on his family etc. I found the delve into the USA treatment of the Japanese during the 2nd World War really interesting and wondered on the racism he and his family endured. Whilst everything is touched upon, the level of insight shown in rugby isn’t really shown on his own personal life. However, it is a minor gripe and on something I quite like but not many autobiographies discuss (Julie Andrews’ autobiography I also have the same issue).
All together, if you are interested in rugby this should be on your ‘to read’ pile. 9/10.
I seem to be reading a lot of autobiographies at the moment! They never used to appeal to me when I was younger and I do think they have to grab me in some way to keep me going. I loved Julie Andrews when I was younger. Sound of Music is easily in my top 5 movies of all time. This is how out of the loop I am when it comes to autobiographies – I didn’t even know she had already had one out! Home Work follows Andrews as she embarks on her Hollywood years.
As said above, this follows Andrews from her time entering into Hollywood to the mid 80s.
As stated above, I love Julie Andrews! So it comes as no real surprise that I do like this! I hadn’t realised she was in her 80s until this book. Which seems ridiculous but with her age in Sound of Music, obviously they stay that age in your head. I wonder if we will see the final book written with her input? Her daughter is the ghost writer and Andrews seemingly has written diaries all her life as they make a great impact here so it is possible that we could get the 3rd installment post Andrews but then again, people are living well into their 90s and she did do publicity for this book so is still fit and able.
I would say that this book has made me want to get the first book on her life. Whilst there was a recap at the beginning of the book, it seemed such a fascinating period of her life and the hardships she had to overcome look like they would be interesting to read about.
I did like this book, and I found interesting to read about her experiences on the films I have seen (Poppins, Sound of Music and Victor/Victoria) but I must confess I didn’t really know much about the other films she was in and did find that to drag somewhat. Her experience in Cambodia and Vietnam when she went as part of a charity trip was horrific and one of the better parts of the book as she reacted to what she was seeing. I did think some aspects were brushed over slightly quickly. We didn’t really get into her brother’s drug abuse, which might have been for the family but seems a shame we couldn’t go further into that. Same with her step-daughter’s relationship with her boyfriend that Blake Edwards (Andrews’s husband) disapproved of enough to cut her off when she moved in with him. This comment just popped up with no forewarning of this boyfriend and was rarely mentioned again. I understand it was maybe a ‘we need to add it in as it happened but we don’t want to go over the details for the family’ situation but seemed like the family connections which I love to learn about were very much brushed over.
Andrews was very candid about her relationship with her husband, Blake, discussing his pain pill addiction, his depression and at times volatile nature were all interesting.
Overall, I’d give this 7.5/10.
Full disclosure – I did go to an event by Megan on her book tour. It was great. She was lovely and answered every question which as some, I am sure, were challenging for her in terms of a baying crowd demanding why she said and did hurtful things and then questioning why she decided that they were hurtful things to say. I admire her bravery in facing up to what her and family did and are currently doing is not really ‘the Word of the Lord’. But anyway, she was great, it was great, the book was great.
Basically, just go and watch Louis Theroux’s documentary called The Most Hated Family in America.
It’s always slightly harder to review autobiographies. This is the author’s own truth. This is their story. Who am I to say, well this was a bit boring when it was their life and they lived it? That being said, I have read it and this is a review site so here we go!
This book challenged me in a good way. I have to admit, I went into this book thinking how can anyone believe in the Westboro ideology and you must be brainwashed to believe that. And I still think that BUT I also can see them as a family which I hadn’t before. They were still parents loving their children and trying to bring them up. They were still children who defied their parents as all kids do and pushed the line. It was interesting to learn that the Phelps name was first heard as champions in the race wars of the 60s and 70s as the founder of Westboro believed in equality for both black and white people and fought to help black people when other lawyers wouldn’t. It shows that the religious zeal of the family if applied to the right outlet could also be a force for good. A major lesson to take from this story.
On the whole, I found the beginning to slightly drag a little and I found it most interesting when Megan started to doubt her family’s beliefs and ideology. It gives me hope that Twitter can be used for good as well as all the other horrible things the social network is famed for.
I also found the copious amounts of bible verses placed about slightly hard to deal with. When it tied in with the story then I got it but they were placed about quite frequently. Though as Megan herself said in her talk I went to, they are in italics so you can skip them quite easily!
Overall, because it challenged my own prejudice against this family and enlightened me on a topic I thought I knew (because I had seen all the Theroux documentaries) I give this a 7.5/10.