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Appetite for Life by Noël Riley Fitch

Appetite for Life (1997)

by Noël Riley Fitch

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
500 pages of Julia Child is a lot. Ms Child is worth 500 pages, though, and she offered up plenty of written material to base the book on, so it's an interesting read.

I'd say that unless you're really, really into Julia, reading "My Life if France" is enough. In fact, if you haven't read that one, you should.

Even though I'd already read about that portion of her life, I found the bits about her learning to cook and researching the recipes for Mastering the Art of French Cooking to be the most interesting part of the book.
( )
  periwinklejane | Mar 31, 2013 |
Didn't like the author's writing style. Might try to read again later. ( )
  E. | Oct 17, 2012 |
Over the top, almost worshipful book about how MARVELOUS and REMARKABLE Julia Child was. It spend way, way too much time on her family history, both sides, her childhood, her education, and then finally got to her adult life and service in the OSS. That was only mildly interesting, and I decided I just couldn't forge through the rest of this book. I really like and admire Julia Child, but this was flat and poorly written. 1 star. ( )
  cmbohn | Jun 25, 2010 |
I very much wanted to know about Julia Child and this book did not disappoint however, it so tediously details everything she ever did that I found it impossible to finish. I gave up after getting half way through and completed "My Life In France" by Julia Child instead. I agree with other reviews that it also come across as a "worship" book where the subject can do no wrong, which as a biography does a great disservice. ( )
2 vote HunyBadger | May 25, 2010 |
I gave the book a 4-star rating: although the book itself is deeply flawed, the subject is fascinating.

Noel Riley Fitch. Where do you start with this woman and the way she wrote this book? Another reviewer said something that I also thought about throughout the entire book: Julia Child worked harder probably than anyone will ever know to make the books she wrote perfect; she would accept nothing less. So how ironic (and sad) that her biographer didn't do the same for Julia. I don't think it's a matter of Fitch not having the skill to write better. I enjoyed her book about Sylvia Beach and her bookshop, Shakespeare and Company. So why did she do such a poor job on this biography? It's simply inexplicable.

What was so bad about the book? Start with the level of detail. I don't need to know the minutiae of every dinner she had, person she dined with, food she served, etc. It was simply tedious beyond belief to read at that level of detail. Hooray for Fitch that she knew all of that, but please don't put every particular you know into the book.

Next (note the transition--ha), Fitch seems to have tried to write the book without using a single transition from one thought to the next. Those must be supplied by the reader, so what in effect she's doing is asking the reader to work harder than she was willing to work in writing the book. As if that's not bad enough, she does use transitions sometimes--incorrectly and illogically.

And then there's the issue of Fitch's constant assertions that aren't backed up with any sort of analysis. "No one did her job better than she," writes Fitch. "She had an unflappable nature and daring enough to make a great spy." During the entire middle of the book, we are treated to this sort of hagioraphy about Julia Child: no one is better, no one is brighter, and certainly we never see a crack in that saintly facade.

The biography was published in 1997; Julia Child died in 2004. So unfortunately for her she must have read this thing, and what a disappointment it must have been. Having Julia hanging over her shoulder (either figuratively or literally--we don't know) while writing this authorized biography possibly acted to cause Fitch to write the book differently than she might have otherwise. Were there other family members involved? Fitch doesn't say, nor do we know (since Child was still alive at the end of the book) who became the executor of Childs's literary estate. Her papers are at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe.

I made it all the way through this thing, but it is quite literally the hardest I will ever be willing to work at reading a book. I did it because of my interest in this fascinating, dynamic woman. As she herself might have said, "bouter en avant!" (barrel on through). ( )
1 vote labwriter | Apr 17, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Noël Riley Fitchprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385493835, Paperback)

Noel Riley Fitch's savory new biography, Appetite for Life, reveals a woman as appealing as the good food and serious cooking she popularized. As a California girl and Smith College undergraduate, Fitch writes, Julia McWilliams was notable for her high spirits and voracious appetite. Performing intelligence work in Asia during World War II, she met Paul Child, and their marriage of mutual devotion and affection endured until his death in 1994. His postwar assignment took them to France, where she discovered her true calling.

Fitch reminds us that Child championed fresh ingredients at a time when frozen foods and TV dinners dominated American supermarket shelves, and that she demystified haute cuisine with her earthy humor and casual attitude toward mistakes. This affectionate portrait of the remarkable Julia Child reflects her fervent belief that the pleasures of the table are a natural accompaniment to the pleasures of life.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:53 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Describes the life and career of the French chef and television personality, from her wealthy childhood in California and married years in France to her successful cooking show in the United States.

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