Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child

Dearie: The Remarkable Life Julia Child

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child

Bob Spitz

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  • Publisher: Knopf
  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Release Date: 2012-08-07
  • Format: Deckle Edge
HardcoverPaperbackAudio CD
  • Price: $20.10 Save: 32%
  • $29.95 List Price
  • In Stock
  • Free Shipping on orders over $35
  • Ships and sold by Amazon.com

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  1. Dimensions: 9.53 x 6.65 x 1.73 inches
  2. Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  3. Item ID: isbn:0307272222
  4. Item ID: ean:9780307272225

Product Description

It’s rare for someone to emerge in America who can change our attitudes, our beliefs, and our very culture. It’s even rarer when that someone is a middle-aged, six-foot three-inch woman whose first exposure to an unsuspecting public is cooking an omelet on a hot plate on a local TV station.  And yet, that’s exactly what Julia Child did.  The warble-voiced doyenne of television cookery became an iconic cult figure and joyous rule-breaker as she touched off the food revolution that has gripped America for more than fifty years.

Now, in Bob Spitz’s definitive, wonderfully affectionate biography, the Julia we know and love comes vividly — and surprisingly — to life.  In Dearie, Spitz employs the same skill he brought to his best-selling, critically acclaimed book The Beatles, providing a clear-eyed portrait of one of the most fascinating and influential Americans of our time — a woman known to all, yet known by only a few.

At its heart, Dearie is a story about a woman’s search for her own unique expression.  Julia Child was a directionless, gawky young woman who ran off halfway around the world to join a spy agency during World War II.  She eventually settled in Paris, where she learned to cook and collaborated on the writing of what would become Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a book that changed the food culture of America.   She was already fifty when The French Chef went on the air —  at a time in our history when women weren’t making those leaps.  Julia became the first educational TV star, virtually launching PBS as we know it today; her marriage to Paul Child formed a decades-long love story that was romantic, touching, and quite extraordinary.

A fearless, ambitious, supremely confident woman, Julia took on all the pretensions that embellished tony French cuisine and fricasseed them to a fare-thee-well, paving the way for everything that has happened since in American cooking, from TV dinners and Big Macs to sea urchin foam and the Food Channel.  Julia Child’s story, however, is more than the tale of a talented woman and her sumptuous craft.  It is also a saga of America’s coming of age and growing sophistication, from the Depression Era to the turbulent sixties and the excesses of the eighties to the greening of the American kitchen.  Julia had an effect on and was equally affected by the baby boom, the sexual revolution, and the start of the women’s liberation movement.

On the centenary of her birth, Julia finally gets the biography she richly deserves.  An in-depth, intimate narrative, full of fresh information and insights, Dearie is an entertaining, all-out adventure story of one of our most fascinating and beloved figures.

Product Review

Featured Essay: Author Bob Spitz on Dearie

Because Julia Child is such a familiar and beloved presence in our culture, it is amazing how much there was left to learn about her. Julie and Julia, along with Julias lovely memoir My Life in France only scratched the surface of this remarkable and fascinating woman who actually launched PBS (really!) and defined the American palate. For much of her adolescence and throughout her twenties, Julia was something of a lost soul. She burned with a desire to have an impact on the world but had no idea how to make that happen or what field she might excel in. It disappointed her that she was nothing more than what she called "a social butterfly," without a goal. "I felt I had particular and unique gifts," she wrote in her diary, "that I was meant for something, and was like no one else." How right she was! But she weathered many misadventures before those gifts began to materialize.

Oddly, everything began to coalesce for Julia in Ceylon, of all places. At the outbreak of World War II, still without a sense of purpose, she volunteered for government service and was shipped overseas as a member of the OSS, Americas burgeoning spy agency that later became the CIA. She worked in its Registry, under "Wild Bill" Donovan, and was responsible for the location and movements of every U.S. spy operating in the Southeast Asia theater.

In Ceylon, Julia also met her future husband, Paul Child, who worked in a capacity similar to hers. Initially, Julia had had a hard time finding true love--it took her awhile. Back home, the heir to the Los Angeles Times had proposed to her on several occasions, but he struck Julia as too bland for her outsized spirit. She was a big person (over 63") with a big personality and couldnt be contained in the expected role of "the little woman." I found it very moving when she finally found true love, although she was still adrift about what her life purpose would be.

A lunch in France changed everything. It was a powerful moment when she hit on her true calling at the age of forty. In the book, I delve into the extraordinary path Julia followed to create eye-poppingly delicious food and introduce it to an American public that was starving for a new, imaginative and creative way to cook. From there, it was through engaging force of her once-troublesome outsized personality that she went on to have a profound impact on the way people eat--and live.

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review
 (320 customer reviews)

Good Julia, Bad Julia, July 7, 2012
takingadayoff "takingadayoff" (Las Vegas, Nevada)
     
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's.


Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, July 25, 2012
Brendan Moody (Gardiner, ME, USA)
     
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.


A warm-hearted gem!, July 3, 2012
P. B. Sharp (NM)
        
Julia Child was almost a force of nature, a sort of benevolent cyclone. She was homespun, too, everybody's Aunty. Her unique combination of towering height, fluting voice, bubbling humor, sheer cooking expertise and chutzpah blew us away. She took the snobbery out of French cuisine and brought us right into her kitchen to learn, laugh and marvel. Her alma mater, Smith College, boasts many illustrious alumnae, but Julia is number one.

The book opens with a description of Julia's amazing maiden voyage on PBS in which she cooks an omelet on a hot plate*. Cracking the eggs in one hand she whisks them up with the other hand, then vigorously swirls the pan. The liquid eggs roll together and with one swoop Julia ejects the omelet onto a dinner plate. Elapsed time: one minute.

"Dearie" affectionately goes behind the scenes to capture the events that sculpted Julia's character and put together her simply amazing persona.

After college, a couple of broken.


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