Book Review: Dearie by Bob Spitz

Title: Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child
Author: Bob Spitz
Genre: Biography
Format: Hardcover
Year Published: 2012
Source: I purchased this book.

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child is Bob Spitz’s long but entertaining biography of the woman who transformed the American culinary landscape, in addition to being an important figure in television history.

Julia McWilliams Child was an entertaining character. She didn’t become famous until she was around 50 years ago, but she led an interesting life well before then. Born in Pasadena, California, into wealth and privilege, she attended Smith College, but she still had no idea of what she wanted to do. She had no interest in being a mere housewife and country club matron. Julia was never one to go unnoticed – she was about six feet three inches tall and had a unique, warbling voice, and a great sense of humor. Julia was an original.

Julia had an adventurous spirit and decided during WWII to go to Washington, DC, to work for the government and eventually joined an intelligence agency and went overseas. In Ceylon, she met Paul Child. They eventually married, and theirs was a lifelong and devoted love affair.

Paul was in the foreign service, and they eventually settled in Paris. Julia’s first taste of French cooking changed her life, and she went on to attend the famous cooking school Le Cordon Bleu.

She eventually published Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which was a cookbook geared towards Americans to learn how to cook gourmet French food. The book was so popular that she ended up on television to promote the book and was such a success – partly because of unique persona – that she ended up hosting “The French Chef” and various other television programs, most of them on fledgling PBS. More than anyone else, she is responsible for the success of PBS!

The American public immediately fell in love with Julia. If you are not familiar with Julia Child, let me present to you one of her most famous moments: Julia Child and the Chicken Sisters!

Dearie is a very affectionate look at Julia’s life. The author admits in the acknowledgments that he had a powerful crush on her when he met her even though she was around 80 at the time! That said, he doesn’t hesitate to mention some of Julia’s less admirable traits. Fortunately, most people really liked Julia.

The book definitely could have been shorter. Sometimes the author rambles on a bit, but he is also very funny at times. Despite the length of the book (over 500 pages!), the book is very entertaining and an enjoyable read.

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