Book Reviews

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz | Book Review

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz | Book Review Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz
Genres: Biography, Food
Original Publication Date: 2012
Source: I purchased this book
Find the Author: Website, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon

The definitive biography of Julia Child. Bob Spitz takes us beyond the image of Child as the tall, eccentric woman with a funny voice who taught America how to cook. He establishes her as a genuine rebel and beloved icon, a woman who redefined herself in middle age, and helped to change the role of women in America, set the standard for how to create a public personality in the modern media world, and altered the way America eats and thinks of food.

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child is Bob Spitz’s long but entertaining biography of the woman who transformed the American culinary landscape.

Child was also an important figure in television history. She was the first “star” of PBS. She really helped PBS become an important force in American television.

Her Life Story

Julia McWilliams Child didn’t become famous until she was around 50 years old.  However, she led an interesting life well before then.

She was 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 did know that she wanted adventure.

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.

She had an adventurous spirit and during WWII went to work for the government.  She eventually joined an intelligence agency  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 settled in Paris. Julia’s first taste of French cooking changed her life. She went on to attend the famous cooking school Le Cordon Bleu.

Julia Publishes Her Famous Cookbook

She eventually published Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which was a cookbook geared toward Americans to learn how to cook gourmet French food.

This book was a major sensation when it was published in 1961. It literally changed the way Americans cooked.

The book was so popular that she ended up on television to promote the book and was an instant success.

Television Fame

She ended up hosting “The French Chef” on the fledgling PBS. More than anyone else, she is responsible for the success of PBS!

According to Wikipedia, three pilots were aired in 1962, and all of them were subsequently taped over. That was common practice at the time.

The first episode of the regular series aired on February 2, 1963. This Boeuf Bourguignon recipe looks delicious:

Julia Child | The French Chef | Boeuf Bourguignon

She was famous for saying “Bon Appetit!” at the end of each show.

Final Analysis

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.

You can find out more about Julia’s life and career at The Julia Child Foundation.

I also reviewed Julia’s book My Life in France and Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell.

You may also want to read The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family by Laura Schenone | Book Review.

Thank you for reading The Literary Lioness!

About Bob Spitz

Bob Spitz is the award-winning author of The Beatles, a New York Times best-seller, as well as seven other nonfiction books and a screenplay.

I love books, writing, film, and television.


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