NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A"rollicking biography" (People Magazine) and extraordinarily entertaining account of how Julia Child transformed herself into the cult figure who touched off a food revolution that has gripped the country for decades.
Spanning Pasadena to Paris, acclaimed author Bob Spitz reveals the history behind the woman who taught America how to cook. A genuine rebel who took the pretensions that embellished French cuisine and fricasseed them to a fare-thee-well, paving the way for a new era of American food—not to mention blazing a new trail in television—Child redefined herself in middle age, fought for women’s rights, and forever altered how we think about what we eat.
Chronicling Julia's struggles, her heartwarming romance with Paul, and, of course, the publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her triumphant TV career, Dearie is a stunning story of a truly remarkable life.
On November 3, 1948, a lunch in a Paris restaurant of sole meuni re, the sole so very fresh with its delicate texture and cooked like an omelet in nothing but a bath of clarified butter, changed Julia Child's life. In that moment, Child (1912 2004) recognized and embraced food as her calling, setting out initially to learn the finer points of cooking, and French cooking in particular. In this affectionate and entertaining tribute to the witty, down-to-earth, bumptious, and passionate host of The French Chef, Spitz (The Beatles) exhaustively chronicles Child's life and career from her childhood in California through her social butterfly flitting at Smith and her work for a Pasadena department store to her stint in government service, her marriage to Paul Child, and her rise to become America's food darling with the publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her many television shows. In spite of her miserable failures in her early attempts to prepare food for her husband, a determined Child enrolled in courses at the renowned French cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu, where she mastered everything from sauces to souffl s. Spitz reminds us that Child had always possessed a tremendous amount of excess energy with no outlet for expressing it. With the publication of her cookbook and the subsequent television shows, she discovered the place where she could use her cooking skills, her force of personality, and her abundant charm. Released to coincide with Child's centenary, Spitz's delightful biography succeeds in being as big as its subject.
A Great Read
I've read all of the recent Julia Child biographies and this is the best and most complete yet. It gives deep insight into the psyche of this American icon. It is a page turner even though it is over 500 pages in paper form. Bob Spitz has done a really thorough job of documenting her life, beginning and ending with her life in California. He paints a picture of an attractive but somewhat difficult person for whom getting things right was a major driver. I especially liked getting the details of her intelligence assignment in Asia during WWII. It puts real meat on both her book writing and TV careers. By the end of the book one feels that you've met a good friend in Julia. In fact, the final pages describing her death almost brought tears.
I have read every book on Julia Child, and I had the great privilege of meeting her once. This is the best of all the books, by a long shot, well-researched and insightful. Highly recommended.
Umm, not so wonderful
Clichèd, gossipy and unbearably cutesy in spots, loaded with insignificant details.
Spitz gives far too much attention to what Pasadena was like during Child's growing up years and not much at all comparatively to her life after her husband's death. Who cares how much Child's Smith roommate weighed or that students at Child's prep school wore waitress-like uniforms? Had Spitz not overloaded the first half of the book with trivia he might have sustained his own energy level enough to have done a better job of conveying how Child reformulated her life after the death of her husband. He appears eventually to have foundered in his own overladen details.
The gossipy trivia is interesting as that, but surely a subject as iconic as Julia Child deserves a more respectful approach. Skip this one unless you're a faithful reader of People magazine.