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Book Name: Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child

Author: Bob Spitz

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Overall Rating: (4.33/5) View all reviews (total 40 reviews)

The stunning story of how Julia Child transformed herself into the cult figure who touched off a food revolution that has gripped the country for more than fifty years. 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.


As Large as she was in life

by A. Hogan

How many people do you know that actually changed the world?Often we think of the famous and powerful, overlooking the ones who actually did the changing.Julia Child actually changed the world we live in.She,this too tall ,awkward woman from California who became the doyen of america cooking.This former OSS agent,who fought and scrapped her way through the male dominated enclosure of world class chefs,who them amazingly,wrote one of the colossal best sellers of all time, literally started PBS{that story is fabulous],and though she doubted she very would, found love in the person of Paul Child.What a story,all the more remarkable for it having been true.My Mom always spoke highly of her,loving her lack of pretension in a field that is 20% ability,80% pretense.WONDERFUL biography,HUGELY RECOMMENDED!!!!!!!!!!!

Very Good Biography of a Fascinating Woman

by Amazon Customer

Spitz has written a very good biography of Julia Child. He manages to cover her entire life, with what seems to be an appropriate level of detail for each interlude. Spitz writes about; her childhood in a very well to do Pasadena family, her education at Smith College, her wartime adventures with the OSS, her marriage to her OSS colleague Paul Child, and their postwar assignment to France, where Julia first became entranced by French cooking after ordering Sole Meunière for lunch at La Couronne, a 600 year old Inn in Rouen, located stone's throw from where Jeanne d'Arc was burnt at the stake. Spitz also covers her transformation from a thoroughly American housewife who couldn't boil water to perhaps the most famous "home cook" in America. He also describes her contribution to the post-war transformation of American tastes in food and cooking and her later career.Spitz seems to have had excellent access to all the relevant sources including interviews with pretty much everyone who can contribute to Child's story. It was also very refreshing to see a biographer who was very well balanced in his treatment of his subject. While the tone of the book is laudatory toward Child, he also covers her foibles, especially her occasional bouts of headstrongness, personality clashes with other members of the food community and her casual insensitivity toward homosexuals. In short it is an excellent book for anyone who wants to know more about an icon of American cooking and how she got that way.The only caveat, is that the writer sometimes struggles slightly in places with clarity in his writing style. Its not a book where the reader is going to note or remember passages for their expressiveness or their style, but at the end of the day the writing was perfectly adequate to its task. I recommend it.

I never appreciated Julia before

by Anne M. Hunter "Anne Hunter"

Sure, I'd seen some of her TV shows and even have a cookbook and usedit to make beef burgundy and hollandaise sauce. She seemed to be anawkward-seeming TV personality, kind of hulking with a very odd voiceand manner. I saw her once eating at Harvest Restaurant, and marveledat how large and large-voiced she was. Little did I know her seriousinfluence on food and its appreciation in the US, what an amazing lifeshe made for herself, or how she impacted public television, moderncooking shows, cookbooks, and modern foodways.The author has done voluminous research and interviews, and traveledto all of the places that were important to Julia, with whom he oncetraveled and talked about writing a biography of her. He tells adeeply moving and detailed story of her life as it morphs from aprivileged childhood touched by tragedy, a rather shiftless, socialtime at college and for many years thereafter as she tries to find acareer and life. Her deep love for her husband comes through clearly,although it was hard for me to like him or her dear friend and workpartner Simca, very much. Spitz seems to like Julia, but to see herfairly clearly, warts and all, and can't always explain away her wild orrash behavior and idiosyncrasies.Her struggle to find her passion, and to achieve what she wanted withit, through years and years of incredibly hard work, is the center ofthe book. The hard work only intensified after she "made it", as sheshot shows from early morning to night, and then wrote up that partof the book in the night, and did it all again, day after day. Shetraveled relentlessly promoting her books and her causes.She could so easily have lived a life of ease and pleasure, as sheinherited money from her parents' estates. But she needed to work,to make something of herself, and to make a difference in the world.She believed deeply that food was an art form that it would givepeople pleasure to produce and to eat, and a vital part of culture.She fostered and promoted young chefs, even as they turned awayfrom the traditional French cooking she adored.The last section made me cry as her friends, partners, and closeassociates began to "slip off the raft" as she puts it repeatedly.Her strength and determination to achieve continued to the end.The book is well-written, drew me in, and while it's not a quickor easy read, it was extremely rewarding. I learned a great dealabout the history of cuisine in this country for the last fewgenerations, and I'm definitely inspired to eat out and to cook.I recommend this to everybody with a soft spot for Julia or aninterest in cuisine.

A Fun Read

by A. Reader

From an unbiased, scholarly standpoint, I would fault the author for interjecting too much of his emotion into this book. From a "reading for fun" standpoint, I actually enjoyed his obvious enthusiasm for Julia Child. His bias doesn't seem to affect the actual facts, and it seems somewhat appropriate for such an enthusiastic woman to have an enthusiastic biographer. The book covers her entire life, which I really liked. Couldn't you just picture a young Julia Child out throwing rocks at cars and getting into trouble? And giving her caregivers the slip to go have "forbidden food" when she was older? A charming book.

A very interesting book about Julia Child that most never knew of

by Beth DeRoos "Beth DeRoos from the California ...

Have read a number of books about Julia Child and have most of her books. This book is unique and wonderful because its a book that really is about her entire life from before she was born and well as before and after Paul was born.Being a native Californian I was really enthralled with her families migration to California and settling in Pasadena and other southern California areas. Had assumed because she was so well traveled, well employed in interesting jobs like what is today's CIA.But reading how she wasn't that great of a student and really didn't think it important was eye opening. The first part of the book which covers her family and then Paul's, is well worth the price of the book.Love the authors style, because he makes you feel as if you are in the places he writes about. And that makes this a book that is hard to put down.

Like the best of Child's recipes and TV series, this book will be a source of pleasure

by Bookreporter

Late in her life, Julia Child spoke at the National Press Club, where she answered questions from a group of admiring journalists. One of them asked her to reveal the secret to her longevity. The question took more than a minute to set up, platitude after platitude in praise of Child's contributions to cuisine and American life. Finally, the journalist got around to asking Child to account for her stamina. Child gave the journalist a mischievous smile and said, "I eat well." Then, amidst laughter from the audience, she went on to the next question.This is the character --- no-nonsense, humorous and enormously appealing --- who emerges in DEARIE, Bob Spitz's entertaining biography of the late television presenter and cookbook author. The book is part hagiography --- in the Acknowledgments, Spitz writes, "I had an enormous crush on her. Sorry. Deal with it" --- but it doesn't shy away from detailing Child's less admirable qualities, including a flippant attitude toward homosexuals and African-Americans, the former of which she would reverse only when gay male chefs of her acquaintance began dying of AIDS in the 1980s.Julia McWilliams was born to privilege in Pasadena in 1912. When she was young, she used to visit her grandparents' house and sample the homemade doughnuts her grandmother left on a plate by the kitchen window. Her mother Caro was an indifferent cook who made baking-powder biscuits and Welsh rarebit and little else. Not that young Julia minded: Food was "nothing but fuel," an opinion she maintained when she attended the Katherine Branson private school and ate their uninspiring meals. "Gluey rice pudding, calf's liver, sardines --- all fine by Julia," Spitz writes. This was typical of her cavalier outlook in her early years, during which she had no direction and no ambition. In the section of the Smith College registration form labeled "Vocational Choice," she wrote, "No occupation decided; marriage preferable."After a series of desk jobs, she joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the intelligence-gathering agency that FDR had started in June 1941 in anticipation of the U.S.'s eventual entry into World War Two. A year into Julia's work as a senior clerk, the agency decided that its observers should "provide Washington with updates on the nationalist movement in India." She sailed to Bombay, where she met Paul Child, a midlevel State Department diplomat. A casual friendship turned deeper during a trip to Dambulla, Sri Lanka. They married in 1946.It was while Paul was assigned to the U.S. Information Service in Paris that Julia Child found her calling. During lunch at La Couronne in Rouen, Julia ordered the sole meunière --- a simple piece of sole "in nothing but a bath of clarified butter." The combination of flavors made her realize what good food was. Soon, she was taking classes at Le Cordon Bleu, run by the tyrannical Madame Brassart. After meeting Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, Child spent years testing their recipes and writing Mastering the Art of French Cooking, still considered one of the finest French cookbooks written in English.Spitz writes affectionately about Child's rise to fame, beginning with her 1962 appearance on "People Are Reading," a book discussion program on Boston's public television station, to promote her cookbook. The sections in which he describes her successes, first with the legendary "French Chef" and then with the many series and cookbooks that followed, are fast-paced and engaging. Who wouldn't be charmed by a woman who, after an attempt to flip a potato pancake misses the skillet, shoves the splattered mess back into the pan and says, "When you're alone in the kitchen, who is going to see?"Overwriting is a problem throughout DEARIE. Spitz uses clichés on almost every page, and his enthusiasm leads him to write sentences such as, "An omelet had to be exciting in the mouth, she purred, making it sound like oral sex." When Child whipped eggs, Spitz writes, she "beat them with the fury of a half-crazed thug." But despite the overwrought prose, Spitz does a nice job of showing us how a rich girl who threw mud pies at passing cars became The French Chef. Your appreciation of DEARIE will probably depend on how much you like Julia Child. If you enjoy loving descriptions of French cuisine and want to re-experience the novelty of a six-foot-three woman with a fluty voice bringing French cooking to the masses, then this book, like the best of Child's recipes and television series, will be a source of pleasure.Reviewed by Michael Magras

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child

by Brendan Moody

The most revealing remark in Bob Spitz's new biography of Julia Child comes tucked away in the "Sources and Acknowledgments" section at the very end. Describing the admiration he felt after time spent with the celebrity cook in Sicily in 1992, he writes, "If I have to admit to one prejudice confronting this book, it is that I had a powerful crush on her. Sorry. Deal with it." Spitz's lighthearted aside reflects the deeper truth that his is not a particularly penetrating approach to biography. The mildly worshipful tone of the subtitle's reference to Child's "remarkable life" permeates the book, and traits that a different biographer might have investigated more closely-- the rapid, unapologetic decision-making that sometimes verged on ruthlessness, the seemingly easy acceptance of everything life threw at her-- are passed over. With the exception of a single, poisonously bitter rival, no one ever has anything bad to say about the woman. But that is probably just as well. Not many readers will come to a biography of Julia Child looking for intense psychological insight or its poor relation, gossip. What most will want is simply the story behind a charming icon of American cooking, and that, frequent stylistic bumps in the road aside, is what Spitz delivers.The defining fact of Child's life prior to her rise to fame is that she came from money. From her childhood home in Pasadena to college at Smith to work for the OSS in Washington D. C. and such overseas postings, both hers and her husband's, as Ceylon, China, and Paris, she moved through a series of glamorous locales, described, sometimes to excess, by Spitz, that were full of famous and influential people. So accustomed to world travel was she that her husband's posting to insufficiently glamorous Germany (which admittedly brought back memories of the then-recent war) was a burden rather than an opportunity. Wealth and prestige also allowed Julia McWilliams to drift through much of the first half of her life, developing no particular interests or skills at college, lucking into a high-profile but essentially menial government job based principally on class and connections, then becoming a government wife after meeting and marrying Paul Child. What changed everything, and allowed her to channel and reveal her extraordinary drive and talent, was of course her discovery of French cooking.Where Spitz's book shines is in his clear explanation of just how revolutionary Child's first cookbook was, and how the meticulous instructions that have made it invaluable to generations of curious Americans were the product of seemingly-endless diligent experimentation by Child and her co-authors, who wanted to find the perfect recipes, to know and to describe exactly what should be done to avoid common mishaps in turning those recipes into perfect meals. The flipside of that desire to demystify was the relaxed, mildly eccentric persona Child presented to the camera in her various television series, which Spitz captures in print in a way that will send many readers (even those who, like some of her original viewers, are uninterested in cooking) looking for clips. Without quite romanticizing his subject, who for all her endearing enthusiasm and vigor was not much of a sentimentalist, Spitz shows the relationship between that persona and the vivacious, larger-than-life individual behind it.The drawback is that he does so in truly tortured prose. Stilted colloquialism abounds. Words and idioms are misused or used oddly. No cliche is left unturned. Repetitions evidently meant to be emphatic are misplaced, distracting. At times the voice comes to feel like a parody of the narration from VH1's BEHIND THE MUSIC: "It was the kind of stretch she'd been craving, needing all her life. And just when she felt she was easing into the groove, everything was about to get stretchier. And groovier." A little of this sort of thing can be overlooked, but there are examples of it on virtually every one of the book's 535 pages. If there were a drinking game that required chugging whenever Bob Spitz used awkward language, you'd die of alcohol poisoning before finishing a chapter. it's definitely distracting, but not distraction enough to ruin the book, which is carefully paced and keeps the basic story involving via well-chosen details and interview quotes. Trying to cover for some accidentally over-browned bread made to accompany her French onion soup, Child once informed the TV audience that "it gives good effect" and doggedly dug through to the still-delicious soup. DEARIE is like that. The prose gives "good" effect, but underneath it is a diverting life story, enthusiastically and skillfully told.

Spitz does wonderfully, and Julia Child lived a fascinating life...

by Brian Hawkinson

I honestly didn't know too much about Julia Child aside from the few chance times I saw her on tv when my dad would have her on, or from the Julia & Julie movie depiction of her. Offhand I had seen that SNL bit many times but never made the connection that it was her. Julia Child, it seems, was a giant in life, one that I am happy to have learned more about.The first bit of shocking news was that Julia was from a well to do family, in with the upper crust of society. Not necessarily shocking, just unexpected. I guess I should have assumed, it just never crossed my mind. Her family was wealthy enough to move to Pasadena and live with the privileged society, joining exclusive clubs. This of course lead directly to her being accepted into an Ivy league school, and again ultimately in to jobs that she didn't have to really try for because of her privileged background. She was adrift, it seemed like, not really able to find something that tickled her fancy. Enter WWII and the OSS. Not necessarily because it tickled her fancy, but because it gave her more responsibility, more of a reason to grow and experience.This of course was one of the biggest steps in her life, not necessarily because of being a career that she chose for herself, but because this was how she met the most important person in her life, Paul Child. She was still adrift, of course, but she was able to experience it with someone until as chance would have it, she was in France amidst such great food. The story from here everyone knows, but it is fascinating to see the struggle that she went through to become a great cook, to be accepted, and then to develop and build the book that would ultimately set her on a path to stardom.Spitz does a fantastic job in bringing Child to life, in showing the person that she truly was. I felt that I knew her, that if I saw her on the street I wouldn't feel ashamed to cross the street like a star struck fan, and that she would ultimately be happy to shake my hand and answer any questions I would have. Spitz portrayed her as such a warm and inviting person, someone with a sense of humor that was off the cuff, not scripted. This was where I had the most fun, reading others stories of the jokes and comments Julia would make. More than once I found myself laughing and giggling at the things she would say. Ultimately the only ever so slight downside to Spitz's bio is that he does seem to not only gush over Julia but most of the people that she interacted with. He would recount family and friends talking about just about anyone in her life as though they were god's gift to Earth. Such loving and gushing words, although may be how they want to remember them, certainly isn't realistic. Spitz falls prey to this as well, although he admittedly states that he does have a crush on her, so as long as you go in to reading this bio with that in mind, than it is a bit more acceptable and believable.All in all this is one of the more fascinating bios I've read this year. Not only because of how Spitz wrote it, but in Child's life itself, one that was full and rich and one that I enjoyed reading about immensely. A definite recommend.5 stars.

A sprited biography of a unique spirit

by Bruce Trinque

Julia Child surely must be one of the most instant-recognizable television personalities of the later 20th century. Bob Spitz's lengthy biography is a detailed retelling of her life story from he priveleged childhood in California to her eventual death after a long life filled with fame and the acclaim of millions of fans.Julia Child did not really "find herself" until she was in her thirties, during World War Two when she served in the OSS intelligence agency. Not only did that job give her a sense of purpose (although she sometimes lamented the confinement imposed by her position as a chief of secret files), it also introduced her to her eventual husband, Paul Child, and through him to the world of cooking and dining. Julia Child's energy and determination in perfecting her understanding of French cooking (in the post War years, her husband was a mid-level diplomat stationed in France). To ensure that the recipes in a cookbook she undertook with two friends would really work in an American kitchn, Child would try variation after variation, carefully quantifying the needed ingredients and tailoring those ingedients to what would be available to an American home cook shopping in American grocery stores.That boundless energy carried over into her eventual television career, wherre she became a major force in changing America's understanding of cooking (and eating)."Dearie" reads wonderfully well, full of funny anecdotes about a most uncoventional woman.

Comprehensive and engaging

by Cathe Fein Olson

This is an incredibly comprehensive biography of Julia Childs--beginning with information about Julia's grandparents and parents, through her childhood and college years, and finally into her cooking . . . which for me was when the book really started to "cook" and get interesting. The author does a great job of showing Julia's energy, passion, and larger-than-life personality. I really enjoyed learning about this amazing woman and finding out how much Julia put into her cookbooks and career. I highly recommend this biography.

Does anyone edit books anymore?

by Chambolle

Julia Child. A cultural icon and a great subject for a meaty biography - a food and wine lover's dream. The problem with this book is it contains way too much fat and gristle. Oh, there's plenty of meat, all right, Julia herself provided that, but you really have to chew your way through an awful lot of authorial excess to get to it. Is there an editor in the house? Someone to rein in an author who seems to know no bounds - for whom hyperbole is the staff of life? I knew this would be a slog at the get go, when I stumbled through stuff like this in the Prologue:"The story of her emancipation and self-realization runs parallel -- and it is no coincidence -- to the struggle of the post-war modern-day American woman: the dearth of opportunity available to her, the lack of respect for her untapped talents, the frustrations of the educated housewife who felt bored and trapped by the traditional role that had been handed to her by the tedium of housework, the demands of motherhood, being the perfect cheerleader, the perfect hostess, the perfect lover, perfect wife -- responsibilities that for generations kept most women from pursuing other dreams and desires."Good grief. How many sentences do we have there, all wrapped up into one convoluted run-on? And how breathlessly overwrought and comically melodramatic can we be?There is much to like about the book. Julia could be an absolute hoot; and that comes through right away in Spitz's colorful description of her quirky first show at WGBH in Boston. But he cannot leave well enough alone or refrain from generating endless, larded up sentences that spin and wobble themselves into a sweaty tizzy like a fat man doing pirouettes. Had an editor taken a very sharp, ruthless red pencil to the manuscript, we would have a book about half this length and about ten times as well-written and pleasurable to read.No matter. All the steroid-laced, fanzine writing in the world cannot detract from the appeal of this subject. Julia, here's to you. You did indeed have a remarkable life and, even in this somewhat sloppy book, it is plain you were indeed a remarkable woman worth reading about.

Superb & delightful biography of an icon

by Chris Finklein "Chrisn'Di"

This new biography, Dearie, about Julia Child is awesome! Rarely have I read any book this rich with details and almost "you are there" exactitudes that baffle and charm an imagination at the same time. I am addicted to stories that get behind the scenes and honestly delve into the why's of a person's character and demeanor. This is a first rate telling about a woman who ranks among America's classics.I've been a Julia Child fan for eons, remembering her PBS cooking shows with admiration and fascination, loving the SNL impressions and depictions of her infamous chicken techniques not to mention the recent movie "Julie & Julia," that enchanting film that captured the essence of her mastery of French cooking along with her indomitable personality. This book deeply enhances one's preconceptions and opens the stores of unknown facts and details about her personal and professional life. It's as though you meet her for the first time and step into her world that eventually revealed a master at the stove as well as a major contributor to the world of teaching examples & her wealth of outstanding cookbooks. I had little idea about her eclectic background and her intense study that went into each & every recipe and end result on every page of her amazing texts. She could be easily credited with inventing the "art of eating" well beyond her amazing abilities to example how to cook the right way.Just when I thought the book got bogged down with too many incidental bits & pieces it took off in another direction to draw out my curiosity & answer more questions how she eventually did it all. One area expanded throughout the book was about her marriage and devotion to Paul. The recent movie depicted their close relationship while the book expanded many of the reasons Julia & Paul meshed so well together, a lot like her magical recipes and cooking skills. Theirs was a marriage glued by generous spirits who each gave to the other and sacrificed for the betterment of their union. It was a vivid example of true love and sweet success as a result.Julia Child was a larger than life creature not only because of her six foot stature and whopping voice but because she was a force to be reckoned with. Her impeccable timing to arrive on the scene in the early 1960's and her longevity to influence the culinary scene for decades with aplomb and mastery is legendary. She opened the doors for today's food network successes, countless magazines and other cookbooks that will forever be a result of her influence. Her example lives on today, coincidentally the 100th year of her birth, and will forever shadow the culinary scene for eons yet to come.This was an enchanting book for anyone who loves to cook, eat or simply read a great story about an American icon who revolutionized the food industry and left her mark for generations yet to enjoy the fruits of her efforts. On a scale of 1-10, this easily ranks a 15 if for no other reason than all the learning I did as I read the pages and understood the values behind her remarkable insistence on perfection. I can't wait to reopen my ancient copy of one of her books and recreate one of her magical taste temptations with fond memories and of course Bon Appetit in her honor.

Four and a half stars...

by Cynthia K. Robertson

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz is perhaps the best written and most exciting biography that I have read in a long time. Although not a fan of Julia Child, something compelled me to order this book when offered through Amazon Vine. I discovered that instead of just an eccentric television chef, Julia Child was actually an amazing woman in many respects. There were just a few omissions that I felt kept this from being a perfect biography.Born into privilege in Pasadena, California, Julia Child was the oldest child of John McWilliams and Julia Carolyn Weston McWilliams. She went to the right schools (graduating from Smith College), was a member of exclusive country clubs, and spent many unproductive years trying to find herself. Although her degree was in history, Julia wanted to be a writer. Finally, she got a chance to prove herself during World War II, when she was employed by the OSS and shipped off to Ceylon. It was there that she met her future husband, Paul Child. Paul was an artist, an intellectual, and a renaissance-man. It was Paul who introduced Julia to fine cuisine. After the war, Paul took a post with the U.S. State Department in Paris. Before Paris, Paul encouraged Julia to cook, although she considered herself "hopeless" in the kitchen. Their first lunch on French soil would change Julia's life. According to Julia, the meal in Rouen "was the most exciting meal of my life." Soon, food and French cooking became her obsession. She took cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu, had private lessons with master chefs, and joined a cooking club. Then she began writing a cookbook with two new-found friends for Americans wishing to master French cooking. Spitz details the many aspects of her cooking, her writing, her television series, her travels, her marriage, her many friends and fellow chefs, and Julia's indomitable spirit.Spitz calls Julia Child a culinary messiah. When she first appeared as a guest on public television in Boston in 1962, food and fun were two words not normally associated together. "Cooking, like sex, was practiced privately--and, some might say, without much enthusiasm--in the home." Julia single-handedly changed our view of food. "After her appearance on the scene, people began talking about food, not as sustenance but as a staple of pleasure. She sparked an interest and understanding of food that whet people's appetites for a different kind of culinary experience. It takes a real nonconformist to start a revolution, and Julia Child started a corker..." During a time when Americans were looking for quicker and better (think tv dinners and casseroles), "Julia tapped into a housewife's desire to expand the boundaries of her own world. Nobody knew American women were out there hungering for this, but out there they were. And Julia offered them an outlet for that pent-up ambition."Reading Dearie, I felt that Spitz successfully captured the true spirit of Julia Child--her larger than life persona, her humor, her drive, her insecurities, her bravery, her ability to continue learning and adapt to new trends, etc. But I also think that in some respects, Spitz shortchanges his subject. I read elsewhere that Julia received the French Legion of Honor in 2000, and was finally awarded by her alma mater, Smith College, an honorary doctorate that same year. He also never mentions that Julia eventually received her diploma from Le Cordon Bleu, after retaking her examination. I would have liked to see an epilogue or afterward as I still had many questions unanswered when I finished. What happened after Julia's death? I believe she was cremated, but what was done with her ashes? Did she end up giving the copyrights to her books to Smith College? Are they all still being published? How much money do they continue to make? Also, I would have liked to read more about the Julia Child Foundation. A list of Julia's many cookbooks and television shows with dates would have also been helpful. The web-address listed for the endnotes is incorrect, although I'm sure it will be corrected in the finished version. Perhaps some of my questions are answered in the endnotes, although I haven't had a chance to read them yet.But otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed Dearie and am now fascinated with Julia Child. I have already pre-ordered several copies to give as gifts.


by D. D. Burlin

Julia Child was both charming and inspiring, but the biographer's style is cloyingly sweet. He was constantly dropping in cringe-worthy sentences such as, "The culinary world had found its star." He seldom left any detail out, no matter how repetitive or boring, often plopping little facts about things such as Julia's husband's brother's death with no segue, so that they landed like quenelles dropped into a boiling broth. I admire Julia Child, but by the end of this biography I was just waiting for her to croak.

Detailed story of, yes, a remarkable woman. Lots more info than other biographies.

by Esther Schindler

I should start out telling you: I didn't grow up with Julia Child. Even though I grew up in the 1960s, my mother didn't own a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and never seemed to be interested in it. She depended solely on The Settlement Cookbook (I have her copy today, with well-marked recipes for salmon croquettes, stuffed cabbage, the foods of my childhood... all with dry herbs, not a fresh one in sight). I think it may have been the amount of cream and butter that Julia used, which wouldn't work in our kosher household. Or simply that Mom never liked to cook; she was the target market for all the "just add one pound of hamburger" convenience food which Julia Child decried.So I came to cooking -- and Julia Child -- rather late. I didn't see one of her cooking shows (on reruns) until the 1980s, and I didn't buy MtAoFC until relatively recently.The result is that when I got interested in Julia Child, I got interested in the woman, not just the cooking. I've read a few books about her, from the straight-up biographies likeMy Life in Franceto her correspondence, inAs Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto.One reason for my curiosity, I think, is a remark made in the first part ofJulie and Julia(the first half of the book, which I liked...): that Julia Child wasn't always Julia Child. She didn't start cooking until she was 34. She didn't go on TV until she was 50. If there is a woman who ought to be an inspiration for ANYONE ANYWHERE who thinks, "I'm too old to make a change in my life," Julia is it.I was particularly charmed by this biography by Bob Spitz, because it goes into a lot more detail than does the sort-of-autobiography Julia wrote with Alex Prud'Homme. That bio was, as it promised, about her life in France, rather than her childhood, the relationships she made with the members of the food community (for good and ill), or her marriage to Paul Child. All these things are examined in Dearie, and I enjoyed them quite a bit.It's not just the what-happened stuff that's interesting. For example, one lesson I took away from the story of the development-and-publishing of MtAoFC was the folly of "everybody knows." Julia Child spent years, YEARS, learning how to make traditional French food and how to communicate the authentic way to cook the dishes from scratch. And then she returned to the U.S. in the throes of the convenience food generation, with boxed mixes, "The Can-Opener Cook," and TV dinners. Just as Julia was getting into cooking seriously, writes Spitz, "...The aftermath of war began shifting patterns in the kitchen, whereby home-cooked meals depended more on modern convenience than on practical know-how. ... As odd as it seems, Julia didn't try to bridge the two extremes. She didn't have to. They conformed to her."Plenty of people were sure that an "authentic" cookbook would have no interest -- and oh boy, were they all surprised. (So was Julia.) "'There are loads... of books and articles on how to do things quickly,' Julia brooded, 'and very very very few on how to make things taste good.'" And yet _this did not stop her_.It reminds me very much of a software vendor telling me, once, "Nobody wants that, and I wish you all would quit asking for it." Or the publisher's assurances that there was no market for a basic book on operating systems, which is why DOS For Dummies took so long to find an acquisition editor who'd say Yes (and thus start an empire...). So Julia's life is yet another inspiration for those who are surrounded by those who say, "Nobody wants that" and barrel ahead anyway.I could also relate to Julia's... well, _anomie_ is probably too strong a term for it, but the many years in which she restlessly looked for something to get involved in and care about. She was a C student at Smith. She was fired from a copywriting job in California. The first 100 pages chart the events (one can barely call it "development") of a rich young woman who had plenty of charm and energy but nowhere to put it. Her well-to-do gave her connections, and her upbringing taught her social graces, both of which served her well later on -- especially in front of the camera. And then, like so many other people, especially women, World War II changed her path.Somehow, this woman was unstoppable when she put her mind on a goal. She was adventurous enough to look for an overseas assignment during the war. When she moved to France, she didn't speak the language, so threw herself into Berlitz courses. When she signed up for cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu, she soon realized that she wanted more than the 6-week housewife training -- and signed up for the intensive training course in which she was the only woman. Instead of throwing together assumptions and mythology in a cookbook, she researched facts -- writing to the U.S. Department of Fisheries to learn about what was available in America and which fish could be substituted for the fish she bought in Europe.Can you tell I like this book? I most certainly do. If you're a foodie, it's a no-brainer. But if you're interested merely in "How a creative person re-invented herself in middle age," I think you'll like this biography equally as well. Recommended.

The Julia You DON'T Know!

by Grandma

Right on time for the anniversary of Julia Child's 100th Birthday (August 15, 2012) comes this latest biography of Julia Child,Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child. Long a fan of Julia's (Grandma used to watch Julia on Boston Public Television with her own Grandma way back in the 60's), Grandma has read more than a few books about Julia Child's remarkable life. What makes this one unique is the attention that author Bob Spitz has paid to Julia's early life.Most of what Grandma has read glosses over almost everything that made Julia Child what she was to become. She rises out of almost whole cloth on the day she arrives in France. Spitz sees more clearly than that. He covers her mother's origins in one of the two paper-mill owning families in Dalton, Massachusetts, Julia's years at Smith College where she and a handful of other young women remained the stuff of legend when Grandma's own Smithie attended in the 90's, her enlistment in the OSS and much, much more.It can be said of very few people that they quite literally changed the world. Julia Child is one of those very few. It is quite likely that were she starting out today she might perhaps be unwelcome as The Next Food Network Star. Julia was not a great chef and she was often clumsy in the kitchen. What she was - and remains - is a great teacher, one that gave everyone who watched her the feeling that "If SHE can do it, well I can too!" Julia Child changed not only the face of television, she changed the very way that people thought about food.No matter where you live in this world, when you turn on your favorite cooking show, thank Julia Child. Read the book. These are the bits you don't know, the life that made one of the world's great personalities what she was.Highly recommended

Superb !

by hasselaar "belgie"

Much is known of Julia Child during her "cooking" and PBS years. Little, until now, has been revealed of the development of the woman who became a towering pioneer in the world of cooking. This new book covers the later years of Julia Child, in a most thorough fashion. What was more intriguing to this reviewer, was the revelation of the young and evolving Julia.From her background, as a rather spoiled, rich girl from Pasadena, to her East Coast college years, to her early years as a society belle and as a fun-seeker in New York City, the early life of Mrs. Child is laid bare. Upon reading of her youthful exploits, one would never expect that this rather flighty young woman would make very much of her life. She was a thrill-seeker, a prankster (of not always very nice "pranks"), and a general lay-about. To imagine that this rather unprepossessing example of young, American womanhood would ever completely change anything, much less the world of the American kitchen, seemed rather far-fetched.Her entry into the OSS, her exploits as such while in various foreign locales,to her awakening to good food - all is thoroughly and charmingly detailed in this fine book. This is a tome to be read, devoured, and enjoyed. Whether or not you are a fan, a chef, or are just searching for a good read - this is the book for you. Thank-you Mr Spitz for providing us all with such a fine biography of the ever energetic and intriguing Julia Child.

How a Cook Becomes a Chef & Changes a Nation

by Janemb35

Dearie is a delightful book because the good humor of Julia Child shines through the historical narrative the author has blessed us with. The narrative covering Julia's parentage is interesting, but in my view, could have been reduced. Similarly, I found Paul's background information a bit tedious.Chapter Five makes an excellent bridge from where Julia was (at home in California) to the war time Mecca of Washington, D.C. Those must have been frustrating days: no job, everyone disappearing into exciting places, until one day Julia struck gold: a job! And no ordinary job--she was off to the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) as a junior research assistant to the Director. Her task: to coordinate his files and read all incoming mail, file it, and assign all secret messages to their proper places. Military travel for female GIs was hazardous because of the superfluity of young males, but they were accommodated in secure quarters.The romance of Julia and Paul may well have been exciting to the participants, but as retold here, it is words, words, words! One name that does come up in their travels to India and China is that of a friend with whom Senator McCarthy had some issues that would later entangle Paul in the McCarthy Hearings.After their wedding Paul was transferred to Paris. Their first meal there turned Julia into an aspiring chef. Thus she applied to Le Cordon Bleu for the training she wanted, however, the directress did not welcome her and she was thrown into a class with GIs who weren't happy to see her.Ever intrepid, Julia soldiered through. and although a diploma was withheld (the directress was not won over.) Julia had the subtlest revenge: she and two French ladies struggled through and produced The Art Of French Cooking. That experience is detailed here and is fascinating. The book was a huge success and led to the series of programs that were equally popular.Paris challenged and developed Julia's interests in food. But it ws on television in America that she rose to the top as chef and teacher.There is no question in my mind that Julia Child had a remarkable life. The Smith College educated daughter of a well-to-do Pasadena family was intelligent, good humored, and tall. Her curmudgeon of a father would stifle any independent thought on her part, but when war came she fled to Washington to find a job. The job she found was not precisely to her liking, but it provided her with an occupation that took her to China and India. It also introduced her to Paul Child, the man who would eventually become her husband.Paul and Julia married after the war and Paul was assigned to Paris. Julia was taken with the excellent and elegant meals prepared by various restaurants, and ultimately signed up for classes at Le Cordon Bleu. It was something of a disappointment as she was offered a class for housewives who know nothing about cooking and, later, a class of male GIs who didn't make her welcome. Shortly thereafter she met Simca, later to become her friend and colleague, and Simca's friend, Louisette.It was a fortuitous meeting. The women had identified the need for a French cookbook written for Americans and had a small one published in New York by a minor publisher. It went nowhere. Another reader suggested that it be amplified and have some American input. That is what Simca envisioned as Julia's role!After much work and preparation, Mastering the Art of French Cooking was launched. It was a huge success. Its accession by Public Broadcasting added to its laurels. In all of this Paul was a willing, if silent, partner. Their travels, experiments in food preparation, creation of more books and television programs filled out their days until first, Paul's retirement. And subsequently Julia's,All in all, theirs was a remarkable life, an adventurous life and a creative life. It is well worth reading about.

Poorly written biography of a fascinating woman

by Jeanne Tassotto

Calling Julia Child 'remarkable' is an understatement. She took a subject - food and it's proper preparation - that had interested her at first only because she, like most people, enjoyed a well prepared meal. She delved deeper into the subject because she needed something to do with her time and energy at a time when she happened to be near where she could learn more about the subject and was financially able to pursue her investigations. The remarkable aspect came into play when she took what was essentially a hobby and turned it into a lifelong mission to change the way Americans regarded food. She inspired American cooks to not look upon their kitchens as sterile laboratories with an obsession on hygienic conditions, or where quick and convenient were more important than flavorful and satisfying.For generations of American cooks Julia Child was the person who taught us the techniques that we most certainly did not learn at home. She gave us the courage to attempt to make foods beyond the basic meat and potatoes cooked into submission that we had grown up on by showing us that cakes did not necessarily come from a box and that jello was not a part of a fine dining experience. Without her there would have been no Food Network or celebrity chefs who encourage todays cooks to attempt more interesting, adventurous meals in their own homes.It is too bad that the biographer does not live up to his subject. While author Spitz goes on and on about how Julia researched, refined and repeated each recipe until she was convinced that she had reached it's optimum level, that every single detail was correct he apparently did not take any where near that level of care for his own work. There are numerous instances where he will contradict earlier 'facts', where even the captions under the photos are in error (besides the menu that was clearly from a different year that it was labelled there is also a shot of a group of people that does not identify two of the subjects). None of these errors are particularly important to the narrative but they did make this reader at least wonder if any of the other information is reliable.It also seems as though the balance of the book is off. Almost a hundred pages are spent on Julia's childhood and college years, nearly that much more are allocated to her post collegiate years, her romance and marriage to Paul Child and the first years of their marriage. It is nearly two hundred pages into the book before she ever takes a cooking class. The next fifty plus years, the years covering her career and so are of the most interest to the reader, are then crammed into the the remaining 340 pages. Events from her childhood are gone over in great detail but events in her later years are glossed over, whole years are dismissed in a few sentences. It seems as if the author either was getting tired of the project or was perhaps being pressed by a deadline and so gave the most interesting part of Julia's life a quick once over.One casualty of this odd balance is her husband, Paul Child. As he did with Julia herself, Spitz goes into much detail about Paul's childhood and life before he met Julia. From the time he met Julia though Paul seems to fade into the background, giving the impression that he only existed in her reflected glory and was rather a failure in and of himself. There is then quite a bit written describing Paul's later years when he was suffering from many health issues, particularly cognitive ones. This is a very harsh portrayal of a man who was an accomplished artist in his own right, both as a painter and a photographer. He also was the person who encouraged Julia to take her interest in cooking and turn it into a first a passion and then was a guiding force in forging it into a career. Spitz mentioned more than once about Paul's willingness to do menial jobs in setting up the cooking demonstrations but neglected to give him credit for the photography in the many books. Paul Child's beautiful pictures greatly added to the appeal of the books.Even beyond the odd balance of the book the very poor quality of the writing is also a problem. The author has apparently never met a cliche he didn't like. The pages are filled with cliches, sentence fragments and confusing passages. It is difficult at times to identify just who is speaking and just what is their relationship to Julia much less if their comments were made at the time or much later. The entire book seems amateurish, more in keeping with something that is self published by an unknown writer rather than a major work by an established author that was published by the same publishing house that made Julia Child a household name.


by Jefferbelle "Bellabell"

The bottom line on DEARIE is clear-cut. If you merely appreciate Julia's accomplishments, giving her perhaps a 5 to 7 on the 1-10 scale of interest, then DEARIE may be TMI for you. But ah! If you love Julia Child and the genius with which she enhanced the Western world, you'll love Bob Spitz' book, and gobble it down as you would Julia's boeuf bourguignon.Acttually, even avid fans may well find the first few chapters over-long, over-written, and over-stuffed with details about the Child family background. To those, I say, "Hang on!" Once Spitz brings the precocious Julia onstage, you're in for a terrific ride. You'll savor every tidbit of the biography. Details of Julia's education, family dynamics (oh, that father!), unfocused post-college years (writing copy for furniture stores, extensive socializing spent staring down at her dance partners' dandruff) and her journey to True Love are absorbing and relevant to who Julie truly was and how she discovered herself.But most of all, DEARIE is a vivid and breath-taking portrayal of how genius pursues its passions, of what it is like to be "in the flow," as scholar Mihaly Czent-Mihaly explains the phenomenon. Perfection and nothing less was Julia Child's focus in her work: the perfect small knife, the perfect temperature of the bowl when making mayonnaise, the exact proportions of the just-right seasonings, all the elusive demands of the loaf of bread that rivals that of the corner boulangerie.Can all this detail really hold our attention for hundreds of pages? John Ciardi said, "Anything significantly looked at is significant." Julie Child looked at food and cuisine, and thus life itself, in a totally new way; Bob Spitz examines who she was and what she gave the world in a chef-d'oeuvre that all Julia's admirers will find delicious. Bon appetit!


by Jody M Clark

Spitz has presented a fine review of the social and cultural issues surrounding the life and development of Julia Child as an American icon. Although I never watched her shows, nor used her books, the steps in her life that led to prominence made fascinating reading.

Julia CHild's life

by Katherine A. Meyer

It is an interesting book about Julie Childs. Never knew anything about her background and loved her humor. Well done.

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child

by Leeanna Chetsko

Julia Child fascinates me. I can't pinpoint exactly why -- maybe it's her unlikely path to success, or the amount of hard work and research she did for the Mastering cookbooks.I remember watching her shows on PBS when I was a kid, and then I read her memoir, "My Life in France" when the movie "Julie and Julia" came out. My favorite parts of that movie were the scenes based on Julia's life. So it's no surprise that I've read quite a few biographies and books about her. I leapt at the chance to read "Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child," and I think it's the best biography out there.While "Dearie" doesn't come close to capturing Julia's "voice" -- something that shines through in her memoir -- it is still good read. I learned a lot of things I didn't know about her life, particularly her OSS career during WWII. Most biographers gloss over that part of her life, focusing on the social aspect, but Spitz details the work she did. Something else Spitz did that I like is to give short biographies of people who were important to Julia's life and career, including Paul Child, Edith Kennedy, Avis DeVoto, and Simone Beck."Dearie" covers Julia's entire life, from birth to death. Spitz admits that he has a crush on Julia, but he isn't a Julia worshipper -- he actually shows her bad side. In some of the books I've read about her, you'd think Julia did no wrong, but Spitz does a better job at portraying all sides of her.The author's style takes some getting used to -- "verbose" is an understatement. There were times I had to take a break from reading, because the book was just too wordy. I think "Dearie" could have been edited down at least 100 pages, without losing any content. I am a fast reader, but I felt like I was slogging through this book at times. It took me a good week and a half to finish it; usually I sail through a 500 page book in two days.I'd recommend reading "Dearie" as well as "My Life in France" to get a complete picture of Julia.

Poorly written, somewhat interesting

by Marcy L. Thompson

The problem with this book Is really the author's ornate, often labored style. It reads like a first draft that needs considerable editing and streamlining, or maybe the first attempt to write something serious by someone without much of an ear for language. When you add to that the author's penchant for describing places in much more detail than is required by the narrative, the book feels about 25% longer than it needed to be to tell its story.The story is, of course, interesting, primarily because Julia Child was, as everyone always says about her, so much larger than life. Her adventures, her enthusiasms, and her choices (and the consequences of those choices) are intrinsically fascinating, and there much about this book that is interesting and enjoyable.There are other, better books about Julia Child, but there is new material here. I'm glad I read it. I just wish the writing hadn't gotten in the way of the content of the book.

She changed What's for dinner forever

by Margie Read "magnoliamansions"

Some bios are well written in that they cover the events of a person's life. Others, such as Dearie by Bob Spitz reveal a special individual for whom the author has great admiration. He conveys a warm feeling for this lady and a revelation of her personality that he conveys to the reader. What fun it must have been to know Julia Child. Looking like she could play center for a pro basketball team and sounding like she could do a voice over in a cartoon, this amazing woman had a most marvelous and adventurous life that spanned decades. She lived life fully and then at forty, we will perhaps remember her best for changing the way we approach food preparation and for the delicious dishes she shared with us on her early television show back in the days when it was unheard of to prepare food on the big tube. Julia showed us the French way, but in everything she did, she did it her way. From her dare to be different days at Smith College to her CIA adventures to her discovery of French cooking in Paris, Julia didn't miss a thing. Thanks to Bob Spitz for giving us this loving summary of a special lady not to be forgotten. Highly recommended.

I adore Julie Child

by Mary E. Parsons

While I was growing up Sundays were cooking day and after my parents started watching ulia Child it was also the time of making strange sounding dishes like Quiche...we sampled all the recipes from the show and that s as much as an adventure as it was to watch her cook. When I was older and out on my own, I lived in Cambridge and would see Julia at Star Market or Savenor's. Actually I should say that I heard her before I saw her...the unmistakeable lilt of her voice.I do not usually read non fiction but made an exception to read about Julia and I am glad I did. This book is a comprehensive look at Julia and her family. I sometimes fouod the writing style to be ponderous but overall it is a highly readable biography that should not be missed. I was especially interested in the insight into the creation of the television show and the story of the beginnings of Public television-that is a story unto itself. Well researched book that will make a great read for foodies everywhere.

A rich life

by M. E. Newell

I became interested in Julia Child after watching the movieJulie & Julia"Julie & Julia" I became more interested in in Julia Child, when I saw that there was going to be a new book about the famous chef, I was really happy. After coming a cross of a copy on Audio book at my local library, I took it to work and settle down at my desk for a good read and I was not let down."Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child" is a great book. Author Bob Spitz take the reader from the Julia earlier days of Pasadena to her fun times of Smith College to wartime Washington and beyond. But when Julia and her husband land in France, that is where the story really begins. Julia begins her discover her life long love passion with French Food. I found it surprising that even though Julia found fame (not the level that today chef enjoy) she never lost her common sense, as many would have done.The audio book is 20 disc long and is read by Kimberly Farr, who does a great job.Overall,"Dearie:The Remarkable Life of Julia Child" is a book that should not be missed by any of her fans.

Happy 100th, Julia

by Patricia R. Andersen "redheaded booklover"

August 15, 2012 would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday. It's a shame she didn't hang around long enough to see it - I would love to hear her take on the current crop of cooking shows. I can guess it would not be too good.This book by Bob Spitz is a loving, well written but thorough look at Julia's life. It starts off at her birth and continues from there. Of course, some of the information is not riveting, but it is more than made up for by the rest of the book.Julia seemed to start blooming after her marriage to Paul Child. She decided to learn to cook - and she was passionate about it. Her passion came through the television show and it just bursts through this book. Even though I already knew how many of events would turn out, I was glued to the book. I had no intention of skipping ahead to a part I wasn't so familiar with just to "get through" the book. I wanted to enjoy every word that Mr Spitz Had written.If you like Julia Child, you really should buy this book. It is a great book and you will not regret the purchase. I suggest you get it and read it by Julia's birthday as a celebration of this woman's incredible life._enjoy_

Already knew a lot about her

by P. Robles "Love to read"

I have not finished this book. I may go back and finish. I really enjoyed the info about her childhood. Once she got to Paris, I knew so much of it already that the book was not holding my attention. Plus there was too much info on Paul's career. I was not interested in that or about her friends and their lives.

Delightful But Uncritical

by Robert B. Lamm "Maximum Bob"

This was just a delightful book. Julia Child led a fascinating life, and it was all the more so because the things she chose to do seem to be unexpected for someone of her background and looks (among other things). Going off to Asia and working for the OSS in World War II, becoming a world-renowned chef and TV celebrity, and having what appears to have been a passionate love affair with her husband all seem to come as a pleasant surprise, at least to a reader unfamiliar with her life. Perhaps as a result, the book was a joy from start to finish.That said, the one aspect of the book that was disappointing - and that prevents me from giving it a five-star review - is that it was unabashedly uncritical (another way of saying the same thing is that the book is fawning and suggests that Julia Child could do no wrong). She is intolerant of gay people, but it's discussed as though it's one more adorable quirky trait; she seems somewhat incapable of dealing with the declining physical and mental health of her husband, and in fact has a relationship with another man while her husband is still alive, but it's treated as though it's appropriate given her strong life force and high energy level; and so on. This adoration makes one question whether her treatment of other people and issues was somewhat less benign than the author conveys.Still, I'm glad I read it and would highly recommend it, especially to people who - like me - don't know much about Julia Child. One suggestion would be not to read it on an empty stomach; one gets extremely hungry throughout!

Almost (not quite) definitive: Three Wishes

by Robert Morris

Others have already made most of the key points so I will limit my comments to these:1. Bob Spitz covers almost all of the information that clearly indicates what a "remarkable" life Julia CHild lived. I wish he had revealed more of what she thought about the major developments in her and her husband's career. For example, did she experience any head-snapping revelations about book publishing and television production?2. I wish he had provided a bit more information about what others who knew her best thought of her as a friend, a chef, an entertainer, a business associate, an interviewee, etc.3. Finally, I think there are passages in the book when he seems (at least to me) to lose his objectivity. With rare exception, celebrities as much loved and admired as Julia Child certainly was have defining characteristics, only some of which are admirable. I think he sometimes gives her a pass.All that said, I am grateful to know more about her.

Great bio of a great lady

by Rushmore

This is what used to be called a crackling good story. All the better that it happens to be true.The genesis of this book was Bob Spitz's opportunity to travel with Julia Child in Sicily in 1992. He knew he wanted to write her biography but took a little detour to write The Beatles which took 9 years. This book took 4 years to write - luckily Spitz had plenty of source material and access to lots of people who knew Julia, including friends and family.I kind of grew up with Julia but surely never appreciated her great gifts. She was a student of cooking (not a proper chef) and felt that anyone should be able to cook with the proper guidance. She had a unique ability to connect with her audience, and a delightful, ribald sense of humor. She was born into a wealthy family. She took a long time to find true love with Paul Child, and even longer to find her calling. She got to travel to exotic destinations. She lived a full, rewarding life and changed the way American women thought about cooking - and really about themselves.I am a big fan of the movie Julie and Julia, and I have read My Life in France, written by Julia Child with her nephew Alex Prudhomme. However, this book Dearie was a revelation.We get to see Julia and Paul growing up. We get to know their families. We get a much fuller understanding of what Julia and Paul were really like - warts and all - and about their great and unconventional life together.Spitz takes his time with his remarkable subject, but the story never drags. It is, in fact, a large and quite wonderful story. The photos at the beginning of each chapter are quite special. Highly recommended.

Overwrought writing ruins good tale--Julia deserves better.

by Skunk Tabby

I love Julia Child. She was an incredible person who lived an almost unbelievable life. Unfortunately, the author writes more like a teenage Justin Beiber fan than a serious biographer. Abuse of italics, dashes, exclamation points, repeated words, and cliches made the book almost unreadable for me. I think the author was trying to invoke Julia's manner of speaking, but what sounds natural and sincere when speaking read as fake and silly on the page.


by Stephen T. Hopkins

Whatever you think you know about Julia Child, the chances are excellent that you'll learn something new if you read Bob Spitz' fine biography titled, Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child. When I picked up this book, I expected to skim a few pages and get bored quickly. Instead, I became intrigued by the depth and complexity that Spitz reveals about Julia Child. Spitz allows readers to become part of the highs and lows of her life: deeply felt loving relationships alongside strong disappointments and great losses. Child's hard work and optimism provide a great model for anyone who wants to live life to the fullest. When you put the book down, drink a toast to Julia, and eat something yummy, especially with those people you hold dear.Rating: Four-star (I like it)

Fun, good food, good company

by Story Circle Book Reviews

My family is hoping that I'll reread Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, maybe several times. They love it when I cook up a storm, and how could I do anything else as I learned about the fascinating, complicated, and long life of Julia Child? They don't need to worry, I'm planning to reread every page, maybe a couple of times, not only to hone in on the details but to savor again the delightful anecdotes that pepper the book and give full body to this amazing woman. Once was definitely not enough.Author Bob Spitz had a singular advantage in writing this comprehensive biography--he knew Julia Child and travelled across Sicily with her in her eightieth year. Many of the stories he tells clearly came from Child herself. Spitz has combined this advantage with apparently flawless research into her papers and interviews with friends and family. It's heavy on details that are fascinating.I love to cook, and Child has been a presence in my entire cooking life. Both her comprehensive yet approachable books and her always delightful and funny television series taught me, entertained me. I thought I knew her. But no.I did not know that she came from a prominent and wealthy California family. Her father was not only rich, but a conservative snob who hated all things French. Ironic. (I was not surprised to learn that the grown Julia had some difficulties getting along with Dad.) I did not know that Julia was a Smith graduate who later regretted frittering away those four years on fun and a few drinks instead of study. I did not know that when she finished college she returned to her parents' home to be a good stay-at-home daughter. Not much ambition there.I did know that finally, bored with inaction, she served in Asia for the Office of Strategic Services during the Second World War. I did not know that she hated her mostly clerical job but came to know and dearly love Paul Child for the rest of her life. After their marriage Paul's diplomatic career took them to Paris where everything changed. Julia who had never cooked much, and often with disastrous results (she once had several ducks explode in the oven when she failed to prick the skins), met food, met cooking, and met a new life. She studied at Cordon Bleu, made friends with two women who wanted to write a cookbook, and food history changed. Their efforts--mostly Julia's as it turned out--became Mastering the Art of French Cooking.At this point, for a cooking enthusiast or for an eating enthusiast, this book picks up speed as it describes the amount of work going into the books, testing and retesting each recipe, making each recipe American cook-accessible (what about ketchup?), making the writing clear and understandable. Hours, months, years of hard work. Finally in 1961, an instant classic appeared to be followed by many more.The delightful, seemingly spontaneous television shows involved the same painstaking preparation. The evidence is there on the end papers which are taken from scripts--one on Boeuf Bourguignon and one on omelets. Every step, every motion is right there--hours of work for each episode.This book will delight and intrigue readers not only for the fine detail and great writing but also because of the enchanting personality of the subject. Even as she became and remained the renowned food doyenne, she stayed a fully human person (and cook). The only appetizer served at her house was a bowl of her favorite Goldfish. She thought Hellman's a dandy mayonnaise and that a microwaved potato was every bit as good as one fresh from the oven. Maybe better. Her dinner parties were not planned like her books or television appearances. It was all the better if the guests pitched in and did some of the kitchen duty themselves. What's important was having fun, good food, and good company.August, 2012 marks the centennial year of Julia Child's birth. A great reason to have a party. I'm cooking up some pot au feu. Come on over!by Trilla Pandofor Story Circle Book Reviewsreviewing books by, for, and about women

Indomitable Spirit

by Susan R. Meyer "Life Architect"

"Another book about Julia Child?" you may be asking. Yes - and a very long one at that. Spitz has done an excellent job of chronicling Child's life and career and, although it's a long journey, it's anything but slow. Julia's energy and determination are both amazing. Her relationship with Paul, odd as it was in some ways, was deep and abiding and perfectly suited to both of them. Her fierce determination to master French cooking and to share that mastery with the world was amazing. Spitz gives us glimpses behind the scenes that I hadn't read before in other biographies and expands other stories that are more familiar. I came away with a much better sense of Julia's complex relationships with her coauthors. Spitz doesn't get so carried away with Julia-as-icon that he avoids addressing some of her weaknesses, including her ability to steamroll anyone who got in her way and her ability to ignore anything (like homosexuality) that didn't fit into her schema. It's a balanced picture, detailing Child's greatness without ignoring her flaws. You'll learn a few new things and spend several wonderful hours engrossed in this adventure in cooking history.

Kitchen Dominatrix

by Suzinne Barrett "Suzinne"

Four and One Half StarsAs someone interested in cooking (although not much good at it), all things French and creatively inspired people, I enjoyed reading this book. But be forewarned, this is one slow starter (or cooker). In fact, Julia Child does not enter Le Cordon Bleu until age 40 and page 189. Okay, I get the author wanted to cover the full arc of Julia (nee) McWilliams' life, but the book doesn't catch fire until she finds her calling as a chef. Julia was certainly a late bloomer, and her persona only became fully defined when she discovered French cuisine. Sometime after her husband, Paul Child, became stationed in Paris as a Federal employee, on October 29, 1949 Julia Child enrolled at the Cordon Bleu. This institution was heavily male dominated, so eventually Julia branched out on her own with two talented French female chefs, Simca Beck and Louisette Bertholle. They form "L'Ecole des Gourmandes" and start giving their own cooking classes. From the beginning, Julia's mission was to bring French cooking to the American table. And that she did through two venues: firstly in collaboration w/ Mmes. Beck and Bertholle via the definitive instructional "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and then through the Boston produced Public Television program "The French Chef." Julia worked tirelessly for years on the book testing recipes and often knocking heads with her French collaborators. The cookbook was actually bumped around the publishing world before settling w/ the prestigious Knopf. Later, Ms. Child's husband gets transferred to the States after enduring a McCarthy era investigation and suffers the resulting career displacement. "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" is received with great acclaim, and the television series "The French Chef" begins broadcasting in 1973 and runs eight years.Julia Child's contribution to the world of cooking is immense, and with that accomplishment she helped push the gender barrier to include women chefs (although they're still largely in the minority today). Reading this, I came to admire Julia in a way I never had before. Here was a woman who was 6'3" in stature, large boned and ungainly, living as an ex-patriot in Paris. Yet, she was able to make her way into the closed society of the French cooking world, and that became the springboard for her life's work. Psychologically speaking, I would venture that her father's continued rejection of all her accomplishments - she refused to play his way - might have fueled all that energy and chutzpah. To the bitter end, Mr. McWilliams refused to acknowledge his daughter's major achievements. Instead of moping about it, Julia Child became a feminist icon by battling old world attitudes, starting with her own family.On the lighter side, one of the secrets to Julia Child's success on television was her campy, over the top personality. European stuffiness was never part of her repertoire, and her voice was beyond unusual- high pitched and almost grating. In fact, as a clueless teenager, I actually believed she was French! Notoriously, Dan Ackroyd portrayed The French Chef on Saturday Night Live in a hilarious skit, and Julia being Julia loved it!The lesson to be gleaned: define yourself and your passion, ignore any and all adversity, and lastly, work like the devil.

The Life of Any Party!

by Sylviastel

If you loved the film, "Julie & Julia," and can't get enough of Julia Child, you should read this book. It's brilliant and a testament to a remarkable woman's life.Before the Food Channel and other cooking shows, there was Julia Child and the classic series, "The French Chef," on PBS. This book is a biography about this remarkable woman's life with all her flaws, brilliance, genius, wit, humor, and sense of Joie De Vivre for life and all it had to offer.Julia began her life as Julia McWilliams in Pasadena, California of all places. She is a descendant of the Mayflower pilgrims on her mother's side. Julia's father and her grandfather were pioneers in Pasadena, California like so many others from the Midwest. Anyway, Julia had a marvelous childhood except her relationship with her father was always tense. Her beloved mother, Caro, died so young. She was one of three children with John III and Dorothy "Dort" in a wealthy, privileged home in Pasadena. For Julia, she was blessed with money but that didn't stop her nor spoil her. She enjoyed life there in Pasadena and in Santa Barbara where she spent her summers as a child.As an adult and before Paul Child, Julia spent her years at a boarding school, college, New York City, and Washington D.C. before going abroad to Ceylon. She was the life of the party to best describe her. Despite her unusual height, she was incredibly tall above most men. She loved men and enjoyed their company most of all but she loved people. She was gregarious, lively, talkative, brilliant, educated, and intuitive. She brought all that energy and talent to food, something she loved. She lived for studying food whether it was just mayonnaise or butter. She was remarkably fascinated by the science of food and cooking.The book chronicles her life from beginning to end especially her relationship with Paul Child, a partnership which lasted a half-a-century. The book chronicles their marriage and the reasons that they didn't have a child. Perhaps Paul wasn't interested as much as Julia. She and Paul were devoted to each other. When Le Cordon Bleu came into place, Julia studied food and gave everything she had to her culinary studies. Too bad, she didn't get her diploma.This book also acknowledges Julia's misbehavior as well. She was human too. She could have her share of fits and arguments with her culinary partner, Simca, on recipes and cooking. In Julia's mind, Simca was the better chef who was a natural in the kitchen but she couldn't write for the American audience. Louisette was part of the team until her personal life took over her professional life. Julia was fair in that situation. She wasn't going to let her down in her most difficult times.Julia's personality was larger than life and it showed on television. This book is a testament to her life, loves, and her culinary contributions to the world. Too bad, the author doesn't reveal the whereabouts of Julia and Paul's ashes after her death. I wonder if they were scattered in the Pacific Ocean like her parents and grandfather. Anyway, I'm glad that she finally accepted the Presidental Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2003. Julia was a devout liberal democrat and had her doubts but accepted anyway.There are two missing accolades like "A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame" for Television which costs $30,000 to sponsor anyway and induction into the Television Hall of Fame. Before anybody else, Julia Child should be honored for her contributions to television most of all. Without her, there would be no Food Channel or cooking shows today. Julia Child's "French Chef" was landmark television on public television. Julia Child's presence, candor, and personality made it all worthwhile for those of us who don't care to cook anyway but learn and enlighten our day and get a laugh. Julia Child should also be remembered for her brilliant sense of humor in the kitchen.Rest in Peace, Julia Child. Also I think she was awarded a French honor as well for her culinary contributions to French cuisine. My advanced copy came without an index but there are pages reserved for it. I think the book should also include a list of her awards and honors and even a family tree as well along with an index. It's still a great read for any foodie, Julia Child fan, or just a great biography filled with plenty of drama throughout her remarkable life.

Good Julia, Bad Julia

by takingadayoff "takingadayoff"

It's amazing that there are so many good biographies of Julia Child. It's also remarkable that all the good ones have something new to bring to her familiar story. The latest is Dearie by Bob Spitz, and as I began the book, I was afraid I was in for a whitewashed version of Julia Child, if not a hagiography. But no - quite the contrary.As is often the case, the obligatory childhood history is not the most compelling part of the book. Julia McWilliams grew up in privileged circumstances in Pasadena, California, then went to college back east at Smith, where she indulged in hijinks involving as much smoking and drinking as possible. The Prohibition lasted until 1933 and Julia graduated in 1934, so alcohol had even more of a mystique for Julia and her classmates than for most college students.The story of her career with the OSS during World War II has been told fascinatingly in Jennet Conant'sA Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS. The story of her romance with Paul Child, marriage, and experiences in France has been told best by Julia herself inMy Life in France, written by her grandnephew Alex Prud'homme. Her life from 1952-1989 has been documented entertainingly by Julia and her friend Avis DeVoto in their letters to each other, edited by Joan Reardon inAs Always, Julia.What Bob Spitz reveals in Dearie, even as he shows great affection for Julia, is Julia's Evil Twin. We are accustomed to reading about the irreverent Julia, who brings a blowtorch to the kitchen to finish off the creme brulee or who sends Valentine's Day cards of herself and husband naked in a bubble bath. What we haven't heard about until now is the Julia who walked off the Live With Regis and Kathie Lee Show in a fury. The Julia who hired a ruthless and unpleasant lawyer to act as her agent, to the distress of her longtime colleagues who had to deal with the agent. The Julia who drove Jacques Pepin to fits of swearing by making unannounced last minute critical changes to their joint live and TV appearances, to his on-air consternation. The homophobic Julia, who to her credit, would later change her opinions.Dearie clocks in at over 500 pages, and it never felt bloated or too long. The Julia Child that emerges from it is focused and ambitious. She knew that her fame, and therefore her success, was based on her being on TV, on being in the public eye. She was protecting her brand before anyone thought to use that now overworked term. This may not be the most likeable Julia Child you've read about, but it's well-documented, gripping, and very revealing.(The uncorrected proof edition I have has several photographs mislabeled, which will probably be corrected in the final edition. These include a photo of Julia dated 1922, when she would have been 10. Her sister appears to be around 1 or 2 in the photo, making Julia at most 6 or 7. Another photo shows a menu from "that lunch" which took place in November, 1948, but the menu shown is clearly dated August, 1932. And a photo captioned "In Santa Barbara, with Minou, 2001" shows a Julia who is a good thirty years younger than the 88 she would have been in 2001.)

A remarkable life, indeed.

by Z Hayes

I became a fan of Julia Child's after watching the Meryl Streep starrer,Julie & Julia. Suddenly, I had to read all about Julia's life and how she became a national icon. I worked my way throughThe French Chef: Fruit Tartsand all the other seasons of Julia's long-running cooking show on PBS, and read several books on her, including one of my favorites,As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVotowhich reveal intimate glimpses into the life of this remarkable woman.Given this context, I was predictably excited when I was offered this book as a Vine review item. It is timely since Julia Child's 100th birthday anniversary is Aug 15th 2012. I have to say that this is worth a read. The author, Bob Spitz, provides readers with deep insights into Julia's early life, including coverage on her family background, her college years at Smith College, her stint at the OSS, and much more. Written in an accessible manner, "Dearie" is a recommended read for all fans and also those who would like to read about a remarkable woman who revolutionized the way people thought about food. On another note, I recently picked up this title at my local library. It's a delightful picture book for both children and adults:Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat

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