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Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child

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Julia Child became a household name when she entered the lives of millions of Americans through our hearts and kitchens. Yet few know the richly varied private life that lies behind this icon, whose statuesque height and warmly enthused warble have become synonymous with the art of cooking. In this biography we meet the earthy and outrageous Julia, who, at age eighty-five, Julia Child became a household name when she entered the lives of millions of Americans through our hearts and kitchens. Yet few know the richly varied private life that lies behind this icon, whose statuesque height and warmly enthused warble have become synonymous with the art of cooking. In this biography we meet the earthy and outrageous Julia, who, at age eighty-five, remains a complex role model. Fitch, who had access to all of Julia's private letters and diaries, takes us through her life, from her exuberant youth as a high-spirited California girl to her years at Smith College, where she was at the center of every prank and party. When most of her girlfriends married, Julia volunteered with the OSS in India and China during World War II, and was an integral part of this elite corps. There she met her future husband, the cosmopolitan Paul Child, who introduced her to the glories of art, fine French cuisine, and love. Theirs was a deeply passionate romance and a modern marriage of equals. Julia began her culinary training only at the age of thirty-seven at the Cordon Bleu. Later she roamed the food markets of Marseilles, Bonn, and Oslo. She invested ten years of learning and experimentation in what would become her first bestselling classic, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Now, her career is legend, spanning nearly forty years and still going strong. Generations love the humor and trademark aplomb that have made Julia a household name. Resisting fads and narrow, fanatical conventions of health-consciousness, Julia is the quintessential teacher. The perfect gift for food lovers and a romantic biography of a woman modern before her time, this is a truly American life.


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Julia Child became a household name when she entered the lives of millions of Americans through our hearts and kitchens. Yet few know the richly varied private life that lies behind this icon, whose statuesque height and warmly enthused warble have become synonymous with the art of cooking. In this biography we meet the earthy and outrageous Julia, who, at age eighty-five, Julia Child became a household name when she entered the lives of millions of Americans through our hearts and kitchens. Yet few know the richly varied private life that lies behind this icon, whose statuesque height and warmly enthused warble have become synonymous with the art of cooking. In this biography we meet the earthy and outrageous Julia, who, at age eighty-five, remains a complex role model. Fitch, who had access to all of Julia's private letters and diaries, takes us through her life, from her exuberant youth as a high-spirited California girl to her years at Smith College, where she was at the center of every prank and party. When most of her girlfriends married, Julia volunteered with the OSS in India and China during World War II, and was an integral part of this elite corps. There she met her future husband, the cosmopolitan Paul Child, who introduced her to the glories of art, fine French cuisine, and love. Theirs was a deeply passionate romance and a modern marriage of equals. Julia began her culinary training only at the age of thirty-seven at the Cordon Bleu. Later she roamed the food markets of Marseilles, Bonn, and Oslo. She invested ten years of learning and experimentation in what would become her first bestselling classic, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Now, her career is legend, spanning nearly forty years and still going strong. Generations love the humor and trademark aplomb that have made Julia a household name. Resisting fads and narrow, fanatical conventions of health-consciousness, Julia is the quintessential teacher. The perfect gift for food lovers and a romantic biography of a woman modern before her time, this is a truly American life.

30 review for Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child

  1. 4 out of 5

    ❀⊱RoryReads⊰❀

    3.5 Stars. It sometimes felt as though this should have been titled Appetite for Life: The Biography of Paul Child and his wife Julia.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    Man, did this book blow. How can you take a life like Julia Child's - worked in the early version of the CIA during WWII, started a new career as a chef at 39 and became a famous food author and presenter - and make it totally boring? I'm not sure how you manage to make Julia Child's life boring - but this author did it. Geez! I really couldn't finish this book and I would recommend ANY OTHER biography of Julia Child over this one. I think the author got bogged down in endless details of Julia Man, did this book blow. How can you take a life like Julia Child's - worked in the early version of the CIA during WWII, started a new career as a chef at 39 and became a famous food author and presenter - and make it totally boring? I'm not sure how you manage to make Julia Child's life boring - but this author did it. Geez! I really couldn't finish this book and I would recommend ANY OTHER biography of Julia Child over this one. I think the author got bogged down in endless details of Julia Child's life (I really don't need to know what Julia and her friends enjoyed doing at age 8 OR every single club Julia joined while in elementary school!). The author also seems to be fascinated by people in the society pages and lists every single person of any "note" that Julia and Paul Child ran into during the course of their lives - whether they had any kind of lasting involvement with the Childs or not. Julia Child is an amazing woman - but this book is total crap.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Leeanna

    If you’ve read my blog at all, you’ve probably seen me mention “My Life in France” by Julia Child at least once. It’s a book I adore. The writing is fun, Julia’s personality shines through on every page, and it’s a fascinating tale of how “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” came to be. Ever since reading “My Life in France,” I’ve devoured as many books on Julia Child as I can find. None have come close to that book for me. “Appetite for Life” is not a biography I would recommend unless you are If you’ve read my blog at all, you’ve probably seen me mention “My Life in France” by Julia Child at least once. It’s a book I adore. The writing is fun, Julia’s personality shines through on every page, and it’s a fascinating tale of how “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” came to be. Ever since reading “My Life in France,” I’ve devoured as many books on Julia Child as I can find. None have come close to that book for me. “Appetite for Life” is not a biography I would recommend unless you are interested in every minute detail of Julia’s early life. I do like that level of detail, but not for hundreds of pages. I feel that an inordinate portion of the book is focused on her early life. Julia lived to the age of 91, yet the book largely glosses over her later life. It goes from listing every dinner party guest and their history to “that year Julia …” The writing was dull. As I said, there was none of the magic of “My Life in France.” The writer had an amazing subject to work with, yet I didn’t get any of Julia’s personality in this biography.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    Two reasons to read this book: one, to find out more about a beloved icon, two, to find details to undermine the myth created about the beloved icon in "My Life in Paris" and "Julie/Julia." To pursue either of these goals, you will have to get through 500 pages of earnest but ill-edited prose. We feel like we've heard about every restaurant meal Julia ever ate, every tribute by an adoring public, every bookstore signing. As for the myth-undermining motive, we learn that Julia actually took a Two reasons to read this book: one, to find out more about a beloved icon, two, to find details to undermine the myth created about the beloved icon in "My Life in Paris" and "Julie/Julia." To pursue either of these goals, you will have to get through 500 pages of earnest but ill-edited prose. We feel like we've heard about every restaurant meal Julia ever ate, every tribute by an adoring public, every bookstore signing. As for the myth-undermining motive, we learn that Julia actually took a cooking course long before she came to France and met Paul Child. There is also a hint that a more complex woman hid behind the bluff, joking, upper-class facade. Between conference agendas and tv scripts are some interesting portraits of Julia's relationships: her ideal marriage that ended in an old people's home, her sisterhood with co-author Simca, her friendship and disagreements with Alice Waters, Graham Kerr, Jacques Pépin and Martha Graham. Any editors who try to read it will have to resist the urge to reach for the blue pencil to change "back-aching work," "celebrity-drive" and a generally annoying use of fragmented quotations and paraphrase. One finishes the book as after an ill-planned and overly rich meal: the appetite is satisfied but one has no desire to eat at that table again.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

    I stopped reading halfway through this tedious book. Maybe, like some cheese, Julia and Paul improve with age, but I don't care enough to see. I disliked the author's name dropping, and statements like "She was fair, a classic California girl," and "Julia was fair, white and 31." I hated reading about eels skinned alive, and little rabbits killed by drowning them in wine, to feed vulgar self-important asses.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Julia is one of my all-time favorite people, but this book was horrible. Some great details, thank heavens, thus not a total loss. I don't know who is really to blame, the editor or the author, but someone should have been paying better attention. What a squandered opportunity!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ed Burke

    An incredible book. An in depth biography of a fabulous character in American culture. Highest recommendations.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karen Fasimpaur

    Julia Child was such an amazing person in so many ways, and this book did an excellent job of portraying that. Appetite for Life, indeed. I found myself hungry, both literally and metaphorically, reading it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gemma

    For the record, if anyone ever has to do a report on someone moderately well-known for school, I would totally recommend doing Julia Child. She had a fascinating life; she worked as a spy in India, was on television and became relatively well-known from the ‘60’s to ‘90’s. She’s also not a cliché, like a dead US president or European artist, so your teacher probably wouldn’t have heard as much about her, and she’s obscure enough that you probably don’t know all the details of her life. That being For the record, if anyone ever has to do a report on someone moderately well-known for school, I would totally recommend doing Julia Child. She had a fascinating life; she worked as a spy in India, was on television and became relatively well-known from the ‘60’s to ‘90’s. She’s also not a cliché, like a dead US president or European artist, so your teacher probably wouldn’t have heard as much about her, and she’s obscure enough that you probably don’t know all the details of her life. That being said, An Appetite for Life was not the most enjoyable read in the world. As far as biographies go, I feel that it could have been shorter. I don’t really read a lot of biographies (this is the first non-illustrated one I think I’ve ever read all the way through). Maybe this just isn’t my genre. But I honestly think some editing could have been done here. Do we really need to know the grade Julia Child got in her 10th grade English class? Do we really need the name of every single person she ever came into contact with? Do we need the details of her and her husband’s sex life? For me, the answer is no. No, I do not need to know all or any of these things. This biography was over-detailed, so bogged down with random information that I feel the author lost her focus. There were some underlying themes that she kept semi-emphasizing at random moments, but because of the number of all those little threads, she was never able to follow up properly with any of them. Take, for example, her friend, James (not sure if that’s it) Beard. Mr. Bear is supposedly important to her, and he’s gay. The author stresses both his importance to Julia and his sexuality for a few paragraphs and it seems like she’s setting up someone important, but then he’s mentioned maybe three more times throughout the course of the story. Why? Is it really so important that we know all of this? Beard could have been omitted all together and the story would be no different. It would actually be better, because that would be one less name and detail I have to keep track of. But it wasn’t only Beard. There were so many other things that this happened with. Beard is just the tip of the iceberg. Sigh. This book could have been so much more interesting if only the author hadn’t gotten so caught up with all the detailing and just let the story flow naturally. So, overall… Julia Child is fascinating, and I would love to read more about her. However, An Appetite for Life is extremely dense, and could have been handled much better. 3/5, because Julia is awesome, but her biography… isn’t.

  10. 5 out of 5

    RNOCEAN

    Julia McWilliams was always adventurously hunting for food to fill her 6'2" frame. When, in her late 20s, the Smith College-educated Californian took a wartime job with the OSS that sent her to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and China, she began cultivating a taste for authentic eatables as an alternative to service fare. Almost resigned to spinsterhood, she met and married Cambridge, Mass.-born government official Paul Child, who was on Asian duty, and accompanied him to his USIA posts in France and Julia McWilliams was always adventurously hunting for food to fill her 6'2" frame. When, in her late 20s, the Smith College-educated Californian took a wartime job with the OSS that sent her to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and China, she began cultivating a taste for authentic eatables as an alternative to service fare. Almost resigned to spinsterhood, she met and married Cambridge, Mass.-born government official Paul Child, who was on Asian duty, and accompanied him to his USIA posts in France and Germany. A gastronomical epiphany that occurred in Rouen, at the bistro where the couple once lunched, led her to attend the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Parisand the rest is history. In 1961, Child published the three-pound bestseller Mastering the Art of French Cooking when she was 49, and a few years later she was a TV superstar conducting gustatory symphonies with whisks and pans and patter. Her life is told warmly and compellingly by Fitch, author of several books on literary and culinary Paris, who nicely captures Child's exuberant mannerisms and plummy voice that fans know so well. Her graphic diary-letters, extracted at length by Fitch, register the couple's experiences together and the emotions they shared. ****Rate this book 4/5. I have to admit that after I saw the movie "Julie & Julia" I became very interested in the life of Julia Child. This was a very good book about a fabulous woman. She was ahead of her time as far as I am concerned: an appetite for life as big as her appetite for food. I loved her marriage to Paul Child being remembered as one in which they both respected and loved each other deeply, and were indeed, true partners. I doubt many of us have the love and consideration for each other that these two did, and total opposites nonetheless. Fascinating woman, Ms. Julia Child. Your life was rich and full and you enjoyed every minute of it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shara Faskowitz

    Exhaustive biography of the great Julia Child. Early on, the author states that while Julia did not give her personal interviews she did grant Fitch unprecedented access to her family letters and other papers. And out of that Fitch built what is probably the seminal biography on Julia. So the good news is that Fitch was an experienced and well-known biographer when she came to the project, and she makes good use of the material to weave a mostly fascinating tale of an American icon--and not just Exhaustive biography of the great Julia Child. Early on, the author states that while Julia did not give her personal interviews she did grant Fitch unprecedented access to her family letters and other papers. And out of that Fitch built what is probably the seminal biography on Julia. So the good news is that Fitch was an experienced and well-known biographer when she came to the project, and she makes good use of the material to weave a mostly fascinating tale of an American icon--and not just a foodie icon, but a major figure in popular culture in the late twentieth century. The bad news is that often, especially in the latter parts of the book, the narrative breaks downs into "then she went there and did that and so on and so on." Way too much, for example, on the development of the American Wine and Food Institute, for me. Still, what emerges is a portrait of a woman who could have had an easy, wealthy life in California but her endless curiosity and drive to learn propelled her into very different worlds. The story of how she met her husband,Paul, and what a great, supportive team they were is very moving and, to me, worth the price of admission alone. Also, this is a biography, not a book of recipes so if you want that, look elsewhere but overall an informative, enjoyable read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennuineglass

    Not quite what I was looking for, this autobiography was light on the personal dynamics of Ms. Child's life and heavy on the what/how of her public persona and achievements. I confess that by the end I was skimming over pages hunting between cost analysis of her latest book/show and looking for tidbits (and they were simply bits) of her relationships w/ Paul, friends, and thoughts of the places they traveled to. If you are looking for a full detailed journey of how she became the culinary icon Not quite what I was looking for, this autobiography was light on the personal dynamics of Ms. Child's life and heavy on the what/how of her public persona and achievements. I confess that by the end I was skimming over pages hunting between cost analysis of her latest book/show and looking for tidbits (and they were simply bits) of her relationships w/ Paul, friends, and thoughts of the places they traveled to. If you are looking for a full detailed journey of how she became the culinary icon of a generation then this is the perfect book. If you were looking for some insight into the person behind this icon then it will leave you wanting. Julia Child was always the center of a party and a huge personality and seemingly available to all (her house telephone number was always listed even after her fame). And yet, she was pretty private at the same time..a New Englander trait of "the past is the past, let's move forward and party". There was prolific amounts of material to pull from, correspondences, diaries, etc, but they all seemed focused on the singular (non-paul) love of her life, food...and the book reflects this. Not a stellar read and at its hefty page count not one that I would recommend to everyone.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    It's not something I'm proud of, but I seem to be addicted to books about Julia Child. I'm sure there are mediocre ones out there, but there are surprising numbers of very good ones as well. This is one of the first, and I've only now gotten around to reading it. It's up there with the best, but if there's a fault with it, it's that it feels as if the biographer is too close to her subject and reluctant to criticize. It's not a hagiography by any means, but there's nothing here that Julia Child It's not something I'm proud of, but I seem to be addicted to books about Julia Child. I'm sure there are mediocre ones out there, but there are surprising numbers of very good ones as well. This is one of the first, and I've only now gotten around to reading it. It's up there with the best, but if there's a fault with it, it's that it feels as if the biographer is too close to her subject and reluctant to criticize. It's not a hagiography by any means, but there's nothing here that Julia Child herself wouldn't mind reading. Appetite for Life is very detailed and runs through Julia Child's life in chronological order, without editorial comment. Just the facts, madame. If you want to read one book about the life of The French Chef, this is a good solid bio and you'll get your money's worth. If you prefer an abbreviated version, Laura Shapiro's Julia Child: A Life from the Penguin Lives series is excellent. For a warts and all version filled with behind-the-scenes gossip, Bob Spitz's Dearie is unbeatable. For the World War II OSS adventures of Paul and Julia (and the dark side of Paul Child), Jennet Conant's A Covert Affair is fun. My favorite is Dana Polan's Julia Child's The French Chef, which examines the influence Julia Child had on television and America.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    I am glad I read this book because it gave me a good picture of who Julia Child was and how she influenced the cooking world. In one respect, it is a love story about her life with her husband , Paul. She would not have gained the fame she had with out his support and character. The other part is about how she learned to cook, who she was influenced by, her friends and family and her work ethic. The sad part about this book is that it needed an editor. IT is over 500 pages long, often listing I am glad I read this book because it gave me a good picture of who Julia Child was and how she influenced the cooking world. In one respect, it is a love story about her life with her husband , Paul. She would not have gained the fame she had with out his support and character. The other part is about how she learned to cook, who she was influenced by, her friends and family and her work ethic. The sad part about this book is that it needed an editor. IT is over 500 pages long, often listing Julia's many dinner parties, who she knew and what she ate ad nauseum. In a way it mimics her life, in that Julia was a perfectionist, and often cooked one recipe twenty times to make sure it met the standards of French cooking. She was methodical, often scientific . in her approach, as she wanted to make French cooking accessible to American homemakers. If you are interested in food. this is an interesting read- one sees how the end of WWII influenced the american woman and how the advent of processed foods and kitchen devices liberated the homemaker to do other things besides working in the kitchen.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Ok, so I was really looking forward to reading about Julia but this has got to be one of the dullest books I have ever read. The subject, Julia, is a fascinating woman but the authors writing style is terrible. I borrowed it from the library, had to force myself to keep reading because the due date was coming up, renewed it once, tried to renew it again but couldn't because someone else had a request in for it. All that and I had only just gotten to where Julia married Paul and was becoming Ok, so I was really looking forward to reading about Julia but this has got to be one of the dullest books I have ever read. The subject, Julia, is a fascinating woman but the authors writing style is terrible. I borrowed it from the library, had to force myself to keep reading because the due date was coming up, renewed it once, tried to renew it again but couldn't because someone else had a request in for it. All that and I had only just gotten to where Julia married Paul and was becoming interested in learning how to cook. I've always had issues with leaving a book unread once I'd started reading it but this is one I am not going to finish. I'll look for another book about Julia's life instead. So my final word on this one - ZZZZzzzzzz

  16. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    I enjoyed this book very much because Julia Child herself is such a fascinating subject who led a fascinating life full of family, friends, travel, and of course, food. The only part of the book I will criticize is the amount of detail; it's mind-boggling. I can understand mentioning names of main characters, but this lady seems to have named and explained everyone Julia ever met; it got pretty tiresome. With less of that yearbooky, who-can-forget-so-and-so stuff, it would have been a shorter I enjoyed this book very much because Julia Child herself is such a fascinating subject who led a fascinating life full of family, friends, travel, and of course, food. The only part of the book I will criticize is the amount of detail; it's mind-boggling. I can understand mentioning names of main characters, but this lady seems to have named and explained everyone Julia ever met; it got pretty tiresome. With less of that yearbooky, who-can-forget-so-and-so stuff, it would have been a shorter and more enjoyable biography. As it is, though, I'm glad I read it; it certainly represents a great deal of work of Fitch's part and a great deal of living and working on Julia's.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    500 pages of Julia Child is a lot. Ms Child is worth 500 pages, though, and she offered up plenty of written material to base the book on, so it's an interesting read. I'd say that unless you're really, really into Julia, reading "My Life if France" is enough. In fact, if you haven't read that one, you should. Even though I'd already read about that portion of her life, I found the bits about her learning to cook and researching the recipes for Mastering the Art of French Cooking to be the most 500 pages of Julia Child is a lot. Ms Child is worth 500 pages, though, and she offered up plenty of written material to base the book on, so it's an interesting read. I'd say that unless you're really, really into Julia, reading "My Life if France" is enough. In fact, if you haven't read that one, you should. Even though I'd already read about that portion of her life, I found the bits about her learning to cook and researching the recipes for Mastering the Art of French Cooking to be the most interesting part of the book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Aniesa

    At first, I thought this book was going to annoy me. The amount of detail is cumbersome when discussing Julia's earlier life -- e.g. the teaching philosophy of teachers she had in college, the life stories of friends in high school, etc. But once she meets Paul and the "Julia" everyone loves appears, the details becomes thoroughly enjoyable. An inspirational story. Find what you love and do it . . .

  19. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    Signed by Julia Child.This book was written before the death of Julia Child, who I was lucky to have met twice, when she was doing her own book tours.Julia Child was a dynamo. I can't imagine doing grueling book tours, like she did at around the age of 90.And she was tall! over 6 feet!She listened carefully to the conversations of the people, who were waiting in line and had a great sense of humour, winking to the conversations of the people, that she agreed with and found amusing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dorothy

    I enjoyed "My Life in France" so much more. Read Julia's own words. This was an academic look at Julia's life which chronicals accurately, but didn't include very much that could be considered "risque" though Julia did in her own account. Though I appreciate the attempt at civility, I think Julia's joie de verve included her passion for food and for her husband.

  21. 5 out of 5

    J

    Overall an enjoyable book... The heavy drawbacks are the amount of information to process - it basically gives a year by year account of Julia Child's life until the publication date. Plus, there are enough parenthetical statements to fill up their own book. A bit slow in the middle, still compelling enough to finish til the end.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    If you want to read an encyclopedic account of Julie Child's life..this is the book for you. One fact after another with little or no "fun". I would not recommend this for an enjoyable read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jacquelyn

    I doubt you could find a more detailed or educational book about Julia... I've read a handful of books about her and I learned so much new about her while reading this book. I only love her more!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Forest Collins

    It's a four star if your interested in Julia Child, but if you're not then it's a pretty heavy tome starting with a quick look at her grandparents' and parents' life onto to Julia's birth in the "paradise" of Pasadena in 1912 and taking the reader on a full ride through to her older years and transition back to the US. This book covers a lot of ground in her life as well as a lot of ground in modern day history (Nixon, JFK, landing on the moon, cooler TV, etc, etc.) I learned a lot of interesting It's a four star if your interested in Julia Child, but if you're not then it's a pretty heavy tome starting with a quick look at her grandparents' and parents' life onto to Julia's birth in the "paradise" of Pasadena in 1912 and taking the reader on a full ride through to her older years and transition back to the US. This book covers a lot of ground in her life as well as a lot of ground in modern day history (Nixon, JFK, landing on the moon, cooler TV, etc, etc.) I learned a lot of interesting facts about Ms Child: she was too tall to join the military to serve her country so she joined the OSS (the CIA before it became the CIA). She was friends with Hemingway's wife. She loved gold fish crackers. She was good buddies with James Beard. In Appetite for Life, you see a lot of the aspects of her early career and life as well as personality traits that make her a smart and comfortable woman in front of the camera. Basically, the see the curiosity, self-assuredeness and strength that all came together to create Julia Child as we know her today. I particularly enjoyed her relationship with husband Paul and his writing to and about her. His skills are superb but even better is the non-sappy but very sincere love for Julia showing through. I'd like to read just a whole book of his love letters! Parisphiles will get a kick out of references to some of the city's old school foodie establishments like Laperrouse or Les Deux Magots. The book reminds us not to judge a book by its cover and to get to know someone before making a judgement. In a time when perfected instagram shots of food are the norm and people consistently chose form over function, it's good to read about someone who is real and human. The book presents her as a stand up woman who was confident, generous and smart. She knew how to throw a good party, laugh at a dirty joke and didn't take herself too seriously. That sounds like someone I'd like to know.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    Growing up watching Julia Child on tv, she was one of the first people to influence my love for cooking and baking. She is right up there, at least to me, on the top of the lists of influential chefs-besides my great-gramma, gramma and mom. I got this book on the clearance table at the book store and read it in one day. Loved reading about how she and her husband landed in Paris, for his government job, and she decided to attend French cooking classes (where she was one of the only women in Growing up watching Julia Child on tv, she was one of the first people to influence my love for cooking and baking. She is right up there, at least to me, on the top of the lists of influential chefs-besides my great-gramma, gramma and mom. I got this book on the clearance table at the book store and read it in one day. Loved reading about how she and her husband landed in Paris, for his government job, and she decided to attend French cooking classes (where she was one of the only women in attendance!) to give her something to do. The story of her relationship with her husband, Paul, is wonderful, as well. Such a beautiful little love story they shared. She was just such an amazing, inspiring woman all around. I purchased her Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook and have read it cover to cover, while also making some of her most famous recipes (Boeuf Bourguignon) and a few of her desserts. This is such a great read if you want to delve into the life behind the woman on tv. The movie Julie & Julia hinted at her career and relationship with Paul, but this book really gets into the personal area of her life. Loved it so much.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I would probably rate this book 2 1/2 stars . The first half of the book was really interesting with how she met Paul Child and their overseas experience in the war. Her background was also unique. She did attend college and was born into wealth but didn't want a normal life for her generation. The Jane Foster experience and McCarthy was glossed over however. Once she went to France her life took a turn and so did the book. Every recipe was mentioned and the book became boring. The most unique I would probably rate this book 2 1/2 stars . The first half of the book was really interesting with how she met Paul Child and their overseas experience in the war. Her background was also unique. She did attend college and was born into wealth but didn't want a normal life for her generation. The Jane Foster experience and McCarthy was glossed over however. Once she went to France her life took a turn and so did the book. Every recipe was mentioned and the book became boring. The most unique part of this section was how Americans became convenient food obsessed and Julia wanted to provide good fresh food recipes. The ingredients in French cooking could not be found in America due to canned vegetables and processed foods . Julia became a success late in life. She was a funny, earthy,vibrant woman. Would have liked more Julia and less recipes.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Harris

    Loved the insight into how the food scene developed over Julia’s lifetime. I came to awareness of food and cooking over the same period that she was becoming known. Looking back at the food we ate at home through Julia’s eyes was absolutely fascinating. And it was even more interesting when I read “Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century” by Laura Shapiro. That story covers the period of Julia’s mother’s generation and explains how the world that Julia became aware of came Loved the insight into how the food scene developed over Julia’s lifetime. I came to awareness of food and cooking over the same period that she was becoming known. Looking back at the food we ate at home through Julia’s eyes was absolutely fascinating. And it was even more interesting when I read “Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century” by Laura Shapiro. That story covers the period of Julia’s mother’s generation and explains how the world that Julia became aware of came into being.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Allie

    Julia Child is my hero! What an amazing lady, and what an incredible life she led. This book is not as much fun as her own My Life in France. This book is exhaustively researched, for which I give the author credit. But I agree with the many reviewers who say that this book almost makes Julia’s life boring. At times it reads like a catalog of names, and a sense of who Julia is and what kind of relationships she had with the people in her life is lacking. For that, read My Life in France. But for Julia Child is my hero! What an amazing lady, and what an incredible life she led. This book is not as much fun as her own My Life in France. This book is exhaustively researched, for which I give the author credit. But I agree with the many reviewers who say that this book almost makes Julia’s life boring. At times it reads like a catalog of names, and a sense of who Julia is and what kind of relationships she had with the people in her life is lacking. For that, read My Life in France. But for any bit of information you need, check this encyclopedic book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Janice Treat snow

    If you're looking for something as light and breezy as "My Life in France" - which I loved! - this may not be the book for you. It dives much deeper into the same material and more, very detailed, almost textbook-like. I enjoyed it and am very glad I picked it up. My only problem was that I had to give up trying to keep track of the many people Mrs. Child associated with over many years. That said, the author did a meticulous job of presenting an interesting life of over 80 years.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Peg Caliendo

    Good read. I have read other biographies of Julia Child's life, this book provided a fuller picture of Paul Child, Julia's husband. Having this information provided me with a deeper understanding of their lives. They had a useful partnership that contributed to her success, especially in the early years as she was getting started.

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