The definitive biography of Julia Child - with access to Julia's diaries and letters - written by the author of the best-selling and critically acclaimed The Beatles and timed to Julia's 100th birthday.
From Pasadena to Cambridge to New York, Washington, D.C., India, Ceylon, Paris, Marseilles, Santa Barbara, and Maine, Bob Spitz re-creates an extraordinary life. He takes us beyond the image of Julia as the tall, eccentric woman with a funny voice who taught America how to cook, to establish her as a genuine rebel and beloved icon, a woman who redefined herself in middle age, helped to change the role of women in America, set the standard for how to create a public personality in the modern media world, and altered the way America eats and thinks of food. There might not be a Food Network or even a PBS if Julia had not blazed the trail.
Spitz chronicles Julia's friendships, her struggles, her heartwarming romance with Paul, and of course, the story of the publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her triumphant TV career. A thorough, surprising, affectionate, and extraordinarily entertaining account of a truly remarkable life.
©2012 Bob Spitz (P)2012 Random House Audio
Daughter of a librarian, trained as a librarian, a lifelong lover of books. Mysteries, sci fi, fantasy, biography, true crime, romance, cooking, classic films, etc.!
If you want a glowing biography that shows this icon in an unfailingly positive light, this is NOT the book for you.
If you want to know more about Julia AND Paul before The French Chef and after the peak of that series, this is a great book. If you want to know more about the darker side of Julia (and it seems she did have one), this is a great book. It can be easy to get lost in some of the details, and the lists of names can be confusing. I do wish that the narrator had made a firm decision - to warble or not to warble for Juli's voice - and stuck with it throughout the book. I fully intend to read the book soon to clarify some of the things that lost me, but this lets me wait until I can get it from the library.
I am torn about this book. Don't get me wrong, I have listened to "My Life in France" and "Julie and Julia" and watched just about every PBS special ever made about Julia Child, so I thought I was familiar with her life. This book showed that those other titles may have been skewed more than I knew. While it makes her less of a shining hero, this book makes her more real. I do intend to listen again.
I would highly recommend this book. Both the story and the narrator had my attention from the first paragraph.
I love that we get the background for both Julia and Paul. Anything that I have seen previously regarding Paul was not in-depth. I love that both Julia and Paul, who had a true love affair that lasted 40+ years, were presented as the human beings they were with all of their faults and foibles and not some perfect super-human beings.
I think Kimberly did a wonderful job by not trying to overdue "the voice" that plagued Julia's maternal family as a result of elongated vocal cords.
Both. I laughed, I cried, I laughed again.
I am a review reader, not a review writer as a rule. When I purchased this book, it had one star and no reviews. I normally would not buy a book without reviews as I ALWAYS read reviews before purchasing, especially if the author is not known to me. But I love Julia Child. So I was quite pleased to find this was both wonderfully written and narrated. I have no clue as to why it was initially given one star. I can only say, I was sad to have finished the book. I loved feeling like a close friend to Julia.
Reviewing this text presents a somewhat perplexing dilemma: how to distinguish my response to the text itself and my response to the portrayal of the subject, Julia Child? This is now the third life of Julia Child. In no small measure,"Dearie" is a retelling of the two earlier works, "Appetite for Life" and "My Life in France." I suppose therefore that redundancy in the present bio is to be expected. The two earlier accounts however, were written before Julia’ passing, and so it do not contain the poignant final chapter of "Dearie." I’ve listened to "Dearie" no less than three times and I have gone back to review the other two texts as well. I find it curious to hear what Spitz includes and does not include. One odd difference is that the Julia of “My Life” eventually received a postdated diploma from Cordon Bleu but the Julia of “Dearie” does not. Did Spitz make this adjustment for dramatic effect? And if so, are there other details in his account that also have been adjusted?
Moving from the text to the portrait of Julia, Spitz’ biography confronts the reader with a Julia of two sides. While the reader coddles to a women of ostensible charm there seems to hide beneath the smile a very self-possessed ego intent upon control. While we are enjoined by a free spirit who dismisses artifice, we read of woman whose vanity calls for a face lift. While we delight in hearing of a marriage that united two unique individuals in a lifelong common pursuit, we find that they had separate bedrooms in Provence and in Boston.
The narrator also seems to tell the listener certain details that “passent sous silence.” Details were the listener must interpret between the lines. When we hear that Paul writes to his brother “ between us girls.’ or that Paul was accused by the McCarthy mob as being homosexual, or that Paul was fastidious, moody and disagreeable and that he vehemently disparaged gays, the listener begins to suspect .
The same question begins to work its way when it comes to Julia. From her tomboy days as a child to her awkward gestures in her television kitchen, it would be difficult to set up Julia as typically feminine. The author’s account of the marriage of Julia’s equally awkward sister, Dort, to a known gay man seems to suggest a parallel. Over these situations looms the dark shadow of Julia’s complete lack of identification with her father.
Whatever her intimate life may have been, there are few who reached out to so many and who opened to them such a rich and engrossing new world, not just in the kitchen but in a richer life experience. Spitz’ account no matter how interpreted, belongs in the library of everyone with a love for Julia and a taste for fine food.
A side note. This reading as with so many texts that feature words from languages would have benefited by a reader familiar with the language in question. The problem of correct pronunciation is not unique to this text; it is indeed, endemic in audiobooks. I do not see why the production companies do not secure the help of foreign language diction editors.
Another point to Audible: It would be helpful to have a discussion forum for your listeners. Exchange would open new perceptions of the texts.
Julia Child knew how to do little more than boil water before the age of 34. Then she learned some general kitchen prep from her sister-in-law, and then studied at the Cordon Bleu School of Cooking in Paris for the basics and more. Julia’s life, even before her cookbooks and t.v. shows, was pretty remarkable. She came from old money conservative republicans in California and there were more things she couldn’t discuss with her family than those that she could. She joined the OSS, (precursor to the CIA) during WW II, and in that organization met Paul Child. They lived in Ceylon, Paris, Oslo, Berlin, and finally back to the U.S. in Boston. Spitz details her hard work and constant devotion to French cooking, the hard time she had getting and keeping shows on television, the huge amount of time it took her to publish each of her books as she insisted that all her recipes be tested over and over to get the kinks out. She was married to Paul, who was with her for most of her endeavors second-in-command, for 40 years. Then he details how Paul’s failing health put another burden on Julia, about which she never complained. Paul had Alzheimer’s but until the very end when he forgot how to use a phone and didn’t recognize her anymore, she spoke with him daily and visited him daily when she was in town after he was placed in the nursing home. Julia was passionate, committed to several liberal causes, including Planned Parenthood, and from her first book and PBS t.v. show, changed the relationship Americans had with food. Until the very end of her life, (she lived until her mid ‘90’s, she was always ready for new adventures in cooking and maintained her leading edge status in modern cooking. Without Julia and the cooks who followed her, there probably wouldn’t be a food network today. Kimberly Farr did a great job narrating this book and portraying Julia’s character without trying to imitate her voice.
Bob Spitz got it right! While I loved, "My Life in France", it was more of a family rememberance. "Dearie" is not a fluff piece. It's not a damning piece. This is a good, honest look At Julia Child. A peek behind the curtain at private moments that will melt your heart, and some the will make you wince. Julia Child changed the way America looked at food, and she almost single handedly got PBS off the ground. And along the way she didn't just step on some toes, sometimes she made sure she broke them in the prosese. In "Dearie" you'll find the Julia you didn't know, and by the end of "Dearie" you find she's still the Julia you wish you had known. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to listen to it again. Please forgive the cliché, Bon Appetite!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book - much more than I'd anticipated. At first the narrator didn't "sound" enough like Julia for me, but it quickly didn't matter at all. The story of Julia's life was engaging and I couldn't wait to get moments to listen to more. Highly recommend this book!
I grew up on Julia Child's cooking shows. I still remember so many of her shows that have become Iconic in the food world. Her passion, different voice, and determination to do things her way were unique on TV. She is probably single handily responsible for the popularity of so many cooking shows today. Her cooking books still sell respectable every year.
The book tells her life in a lovable, interesting, and no holes bared manner. Beginning with her background within a rich family, where she and her father we vocal on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Though tall and gangly, she loved men, life, and socializing with all the interesting and important people that she could connect with, usually while eating a meal together.
Julia crossed the world to become part of the USA spy world during World War 2. Her organizational and writing skills kept her in the center of all the government's secrets. These same skill, including the need for perfection is what made her cooking skills and cook books sell millions.
She, and her husband, Paul, were a very devoted couple. Both came from the US Government overseas network. Both loved all things food. Both were perfectionists in what was important to them. Both loved all things French.
Though I've read about, and watched Julia over the years, I found this book eminently readable and fascinating. If you're a foodie at all, this book is definitely for you!!
I absolutely loved this book. I think the author gave the readers a true picture of Julia Child - warts and all. She was an amazing character, someone I would love to have met.
This is a very long book but that was one of the things I enjoyed most. When I knew I was getting close to the end I was wishing it could go on.
One thing I would say is that "don't listen to this book if you are hungry"! The descriptions of the recipes and the food had my drooling all over my car!
If you are at all in to food, cooking or just remember Julia from your childhood I think you will enjoy this book.
While I continue to hold this unfinished book on my iPod, I find myself skipping it in favor of other titles. While the Julie Child story is compelling, it simply takes too long to get to it. I believe an abridged version would be much more interesting.
I did - listened to the entire book twice.
The humor was great. Julia was really a one of a kind.
Report Inappropriate Content