Monday, October 22, 2012


I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

I vaguely remember Julia Child's television program from my childhood. And I certainly remember Dan Akroyd's famous Saturday Night Live impersonation. But she didn't really register on my radar until Julie Powell's JULIE AND JULIA experiment came out along with the following movie.  Meryl Streep's interpretation of Julia Child seemed so charming and exuberant and I really wondered if the real Julia Child was even close to that.  Since this year marks what would have been Julia's 100th birthday, I thought it very appropriate to read Bob Spitz's new biography.

It took me awhile to get through this book.  Spitz is extremely thorough and filled the book with details about much more than Julia's life.  I learned about the early days of public television and the early years of Pasadena and its first families.  I learned about the ins and outs of the publishing business.  Even more than that, however, I learned a great deal about Julia Child that both surprised and charmed me.  I marveled at her liberal political leanings and her late marriage and late career start.  I also never knew how involved she was with Planned Parenthood and also in establishing American-based culinary schools. I gained a new appreciation for the work she put into her cookbooks and the level of testing and detail that went into them.  I loved the fact that Julia always remained true to herself and never stopped working. The way she built her empire was fascinating.  There is so much to admire about Julia Child and this biography inspired me to look for her cookbooks and try some of her recipes. 

BOTTOM LINE:  Recommended.  While this biography is dense and slow-going, it is also fascinating and filled with interesting detail. Spitz crafted a book about much more than Julia Child. It is also the story of the American housewife and the changing attitudes towards food and homemaking along with the influence of television in the lives of Americans.  A fascinating look at a fascinating woman. This would make a great Christmas gift.

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