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Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child (edition 2012)

by Bob Spitz

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249846,085 (4.18)15
Member:KatherineGregg
Title:Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child
Authors:Bob Spitz
Info:Knopf (2012), Hardcover, 576 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Julia Child, Paul Child, biography, French cooking, Smith College, Cambridge, Paris, Santa Barbara, Casa Dorinda

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Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz

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Charming biography of food pioneer, Julia Child. Much of her history is familiar -- her time in the OSS during WWII, enduring love for husband Paul and the genesis of her magnum opus, The Art of French Cooking. This volume adds flesh to the bare bones and gives Child charming life. We learn about her rambunctious youth and party girl college ways. Her WGBH French Chef TV series broke ground with the use of cameras angles and creating a sense of accesibility with the audience. Food Tv owes just about everything to her work. Unknown was a quiet love affair giving her support and companionship at the end of her life. A favorite quote: "Julia looked at food the way some people look at their children, and when she case her adoring gaze at three pounds of ground chuck, the folks at home knew something was up." Hers was an every woman persona and her genuineness was pablable.
  michigantrumpet | Apr 30, 2014 |
"Dearie" covers Julia Child's *entire* life, accomplishments, and relationships, to a degree I would not have previously thought to be interesting - the author is clearly a big fan, without being fawning, and covers some fairly dark topics in a respectful manner. I grew up with Julia Child being part of what TV *was* and it was fascinating to see how much that impression was sheer force of will on her part - and how much of an outright *troublemaker* she was :-) It also gets across the ludicrous amount of work that went into producing those "effortless" presentations, balanced with the self confidence to be able to carry off "disasters" on live TV - "Never apologize for the food!"

I would also recommend the book to any fan of modern cooking shows, there's a great deal of information on how we got where we are today. But primarily, if you "grew up with Julia" and haven't dug in to her life before, I found this book to be an excellent place to start.

Bon apetit! ( )
  eichin | May 10, 2013 |
I really enjoyed this biography. I've read a number of biographies and memoirs featuring Julia over the years, but this one gave me a real sense of her personality and character. There was more about Paul Child too, his childhood and family. Also, I did not know that Julia and her assistant were scheduled to be on the 9/11 plane that took off from Boston to LA, or that she had a wee romance after she was 80!!
Good fun. ( )
  rglossne | Apr 26, 2013 |
An exhaustive biography of Julia Child, maybe a bit too exhaustive. But interesting for sure. ( )
  akmargie | Apr 4, 2013 |
I enjoyed reading this biography although found it funny that the author of a book about Julia Child also wrote a bio on The Beatles. I loved reading about her childhood in California, her days at Smith and in the foreign service, and her early life in France with Paul. Although I do love cooking and found it interesting how fastidious she was about testing recipes, I thought too much time was spent on writing her first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. ( )
  KatherineGregg | Dec 21, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307272222, Hardcover)

Featured Essay: Author Bob Spitz on Dearie

Because Julia Child is such a familiar and beloved presence in our culture, it is amazing how much there was left to learn about her. Julie and Julia, along with Julia's lovely memoir My Life in France only scratched the surface of this remarkable and fascinating woman who actually launched PBS (really!) and defined the American palate. For much of her adolescence and throughout her twenties, Julia was something of a lost soul. She burned with a desire to have an impact on the world but had no idea how to make that happen or what field she might excel in. It disappointed her that she was nothing more than what she called "a social butterfly," without a goal. "I felt I had particular and unique gifts," she wrote in her diary, "that I was meant for something, and was like no one else." How right she was! But she weathered many misadventures before those gifts began to materialize.

Oddly, everything began to coalesce for Julia in Ceylon, of all places. At the outbreak of World War II, still without a sense of purpose, she volunteered for government service and was shipped overseas as a member of the OSS, America's burgeoning spy agency that later became the CIA. She worked in its Registry, under "Wild Bill" Donovan, and was responsible for the location and movements of every U.S. spy operating in the Southeast Asia theater.

In Ceylon, Julia also met her future husband, Paul Child, who worked in a capacity similar to hers. Initially, Julia had had a hard time finding true love--it took her awhile. Back home, the heir to the Los Angeles Times had proposed to her on several occasions, but he struck Julia as too bland for her outsized spirit. She was a big person (over 6'3") with a big personality and couldn't be contained in the expected role of "the little woman." I found it very moving when she finally found true love, although she was still adrift about what her life purpose would be.

A lunch in France changed everything. It was a powerful moment when she hit on her true calling at the age of forty. In the book, I delve into the extraordinary path Julia followed to create eye-poppingly delicious food and introduce it to an American public that was starving for a new, imaginative and creative way to cook. From there, it was through engaging force of her once-troublesome outsized personality that she went on to have a profound impact on the way people eat--and live.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:48 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

It is rare for someone to emerge in America who can change our attitudes, our beliefs, and our very culture. It is even rarer when that someone is a middl0--aged, six-foot three-inch woman whose first exposure to an unsuspecting public is cooking an omelet on a hot plate on a local TV station. And yet, that is exactly what Julia Child did. The warble voiced doyenne of television cookery became an iconic cult figure and joyous rule breaker as she touched off the food revolution that has gripped America for more than fifty years. In this biography, the Julia we know and love comes to life. In it the author provides a portrait of one of the most fascinating and influential Americans of our time, a woman known to all, yet known by only a few. At its heart, this biography is a story about a woman's search for her own unique expression. Julia Child was a directionless, gawky young woman who ran off halfway around the world to join a spy agency during World War II. She eventually settled in Paris, where she learned to cook and collaborated on the writing of what would become Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a book that changed the food culture of America. She was already fifty when The French Chef went on the air, at a time in our history when women were not making those leaps. Julia became the first educational TV star, virtually launching PBS as we know it today; her marriage to Paul Child formed a decades long love story that was romantic, touching, and quite extraordinary. A fearless, ambitious, supremely confident woman, Julia took on all the pretensions that embellished tony French cuisine and fricasseed them to a fare-thee-well, paving the way for everything that has happened since in American cooking, from TV dinners and Big Macs to sea urchin foam and the Food Channel. Julia Child's story, however, is more than the tale of a talented woman and her sumptuous craft. It is also a saga of America's coming of age and growing sophistication, from the Depression Era to the turbulent sixties and the excesses of the eighties to the greening of the American kitchen. Julia had an effect on and was equally affected by the baby boom, the sexual revolution, and the start of the women's liberation movement. On the centenary of her birth, Julia finally gets the biography she richly deserves. An in-depth, intimate narrative, full of fresh information and insights, this biography is the story of one of our most fascinating and beloved figures.… (more)

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