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On November 3, 1948, a lunch in a Paris restaurant of sole meuniere, the sole so very fresh with its delicate texture and cooked like an omelet in nothing but a bath of clarified butter, changed Julia Child's life. In that moment, Child (1912-2004) recognized and embraced food as her calling, setting out initially to learn the finer points of cooking, and French cooking in particular. In this affectionate and entertaining tribute to the witty, down-to-earth, bumptious, and passionate host of The French Chef, Spitz (The Beatles) exhaustively chronicles Child's life and career from her childhood in California through her social butterfly flitting at Smith and her work for a Pasadena department store to her stint in government service, her marriage to Paul Child, and her rise to become America's food darling with the publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her many television shows. In spite of her miserable failures in her early attempts to prepare food for her husband, a determined Child enrolled in courses at the renowned French cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu, where she mastered everything from sauces to souffles. Spitz reminds us that Child had always possessed a tremendous amount of excess energy with no outlet for expressing it. With the publication of her cookbook and the subsequent television shows, she discovered the place where she could use her cooking skills, her force of personality, and her abundant charm. Released to coincide with Child's centenary, Spitz's delightful biography succeeds in being as big as its subject. Agent: Sloan Harris, ICM. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
The latest biography of Julia Child commemorates the centennial of the birth of America's undisputed queen of cuisine. Drawing on diaries and correspondence, it fleshes out details of her already much-examined life. Spitz reviews Child's upbringing in Pasadena, her education, her wartime career in America's intelligence services, and her move to Paris, her life's undisputed turning point. Spitz awards her husband, Paul, full credit for providing a solid marriage and encouraging his wife to realize her ambitions as cook, writer, television performer, and teacher. Spitz's research pays off in revealing accounts of Child's sometimes-prickly collaborations with coauthors and her generous friendships and occasional rivalries with professional colleagues. Spitz adeptly details her conflicts with publishers and television producers, who did not always live up to her exacting standards. Boundlessly talented and energetic, Child worked well into her eighties, despite her beloved's devastating illness and the deaths of so many fellow cooks and friends.--Knoblauch, Mark Copyright 2010 Booklist
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Spitz, a freelance journalist best known as a rock 'n' roll biographer (The Beatles: The Biography, 2005), shifts his attention to the rock star of home cooking, Julia Child. Over 27 chapters, Spitz moves chronologically through Child's life. Crosscutting themes include the rise of feminism that paralleled the subject's career and Child's "secret ingredient"--fun. Artifacts such as photographs and the script from the first episode of Child's show are included; more would have been welcome. The book, released on what would have been her centennial birthday, is marketed as an engaging trade publication. The style is readable, if cheesy ("Her French ... had fallen flatter than a crepe ..."). While the book is indexed, scholars will be frustrated by the lack of notes. There has been no shortage of Child biographies over the past decade: Laura Shapiro's excellent Julia Child: A Life (2007), Noel Riley Fitch's Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child (CH, May'98, 35-5037), and, with her nephew Alex Prud'homme, Child's compelling autobiography My Life in France (CH, Sep'06, 44-0279). Spitz's approach compares well in its breadth and celebration of Child's fun-loving, temperamental, nonconformist side. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers. J. M. Deutsch CUNY Kingsborough Community College