Julia Child is a fascinating character. She came to her profession late in life, and ever since the 1960s has flitted in and out of varying degrees of fame. What better way to celebrate what would have been her 100th birthday with an all-encompassing biography?
At first glance, the only people who will be interested in this are long-term Julia Child fans. In fact, Spitz admits in the acknowledgments that he counts himself among those who thoroughly love her work. He met her in 1992 and developed a bit of a crush on her through their interaction. But, the biography is more than a portrait of a woman: Spitz touches on how Child changed the whole food business, from the way cookbooks are written to the whole Food Network phenomenon.
As a comprehensive, and by default, huge (coming in at 530 pages) biography, one does expect quite a bit of history from Dearie. On this count, Spitz doesn’t disappoint, giving us a grand portrait of Julia’s life: from her early upbringing in Pasadena, California, to her time with the OSS, to meeting and marrying Paul Child and their years in France, and through all her various incarnations in television, up through Paul’s, and her own, deaths.
Even if one isn’t a huge fan of Julia, this is an engaging biography. Spitz is an excellent writer, and his enthusiasm for Julia shows. He delves into her life, drawing her both in broad strokes (she really WAS manic, full of energy, unstoppable), and small details (the amount of work this woman did, basically up until she died, was simply amazing), which gave a more thorough picture of the real person behind the persona. And, as would be expected, there was enough about Julia’s passion for food that will keep those looking for a food-centric book happy.
A must for any Julia Child fan.
Rated: High for about seven F-bombs, all in the last quarter of the book.