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Julia Child: A Life
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Julia Child: A Life (Penguin Lives)

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  451 ratings  ·  98 reviews
With a swooping voice, an irrepressible sense of humor, and a passion for good food, Julia Child ushered in the nation's culinary renaissance. In Julia Child, award-winning food writer Laura Shapiro tells the story of Child's unlikely career path, from California party girl to coolheaded chief clerk in a World War II spy station to bewildered amateur cook and finally to th...more
ebook, 208 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Penguin Books (first published 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 855)
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Schmacko
This is an easy-to-read account of Julia Child, her life, her marriage, and other information about her. It has the benefit of not being to wandering or in-depth, as are some other bios about the American woman who helped create the seminal French cookbook for the home cook and brought public cooking shows back to life.

Shapiro probably spends a little too much time defining Childs' politics - beliefs shaped by her time, her dislike of her dad's conservative, but her unwillingness to understand...more
Jessica
I loved to sleep over my grandparent's house a lot when I was younger. I used to watch her cook. She was so deliberate yet graceful in her movements as she folded eggs into flour or packed a cabbage leaf with a mixture of butter, onions, and hamburger. She could spend hours working on a dish then to my amazement deem it "not good enough" and put it in the fridge for our family to eat, or if it was "not right" (only in her discriminating opinion was there anything "not right" with the food she ha...more
Erin Beckwith
this book was given to me as a birthday present in September and, having little to no interest in Julia Child, I put off reading it until recently when my other options were dense tomes that I didn't have the stamina to touch. Having just read Sarah Vowell, who's writing voice is so original, honest, and non-cliched, this book seemed utterly dry and typical at first. About 50 pages in, I'd learned enough about Child's life to care about her future, so I kept reading. It was really Julia that mad...more
Sophia Musgrave
Since seeing Julie and Julia I was more interested in the real life of Julia Child. This author does not disappoint! Although this biography was a bit short, it gave all the details necessary to make an informed picture of one of the world's most fascinating women. I also liked how Julia's truly personal and human characteristic were brought to light and praised. As said in this biography, Julia was always Julia to everyone she met, not just the formal Mrs. Child. She dispensed with all formalit...more
Vicki
This is a short listen, but it's really engaging. The narration is done by a niece of Julia Child's, and she really does a good impression of her aunt's voice without it being campy or annoying -- kind of essential for an audiobook about Julia Child!

What's interesting about this book, despite how fast it goes, is that it doesn't skate over Julia Child's flaws -- she was a human, just like all of us, not just a good kitchen fairy. What's so interesting about Julia Child is her charisma, and this...more
Marisa
This was an incredibly interesting biography. I have been a fan of Julia Child's since I first watched The French Chef on my local PBS channel as a kid and have long been interested in learning more about her. I was, however, concerned about reading a biography that would treat Julia has kind of a cult hero, a larger than life figure not to be trifled with.

I was pleasantly surprised that Shapiro did not stray from depicting the whole Julia. Although you can tell that Shapiro does admire Julia, s...more
Carol Ann
While this was an interesting behind the scene look at Julia Child, I realized that bringing her to life was impossible. Ms Shapiro described Julia's enthusiasm and told us of her love affair with food, but Julia remained one dimensional. Because of repeats of her PBS show I knew what Ms Shapiro was trying to say. Unfortunately I still do not really know what French cuisine is, other than a set of rules. I do have something in common with Julia, I too love oysters!
Dvora
Maybe it's because I've already read three other books about Julia. There was not much in this one that was new, except Julia's attitude towards Gays which was not admirable, and her rejection of the movement to improve the food industry and remove irradiated foods, and other food manipulations from our market was disappointing. I had always thought of Julia as having high standards when it came to food and cooking and this acceptance of whatever the food industry told her over when should have...more
JDAZDesigns
All right. I admit it. I love Julia.

I'm probably late to this parade but I don't care. I, like millions of others, fell in love with her watching The French Chef. That show made me buy a book, for cryin' out loud! [Since I'm more of the borrow-from-the-library type this was a big thing.]

This book is short, direct and an incredibly easy read. Packed chock full of great things. There isn't a wasted page. They are jammed full of Julia information. How she was raised, schooled, what she chose to do...more
Monica
As usual, I like to start with what the audio version takes or deducts from a piece of writing. In this case, I thought the narrator did such a poor job impersonating Julia Child’s unusual intonations that it was distracting! I could always hear the narrator’s normal voice behind her “Julia” voice, and I wish she just didn’t even try!
Now that that’s out of the way, I thought this biography provided detailed and honest insights into Julia’s true personality. I had no idea she was homophobic, did...more
Homewood Public Library
This account about Julia Child is enjoyable and interesting from the first page of the preface to the last page of the book. What we saw of her on television was the animation of a woman of may facets. Her life began in California where she grew into a society girl-fun loving and carefree. Her college days were spent at Smith where she continued enjoying friends and parties. During World War II she realized that she had better start getting serious about life. So she made the leap from society g...more
Amanda
This was a fairly short (5.7 hours) audiobook from the library. I had listened to a podcast on Julia from The History Chicks and was intrigued enough to dig around for more on her. I think everyone knows who she is, but there was more to her than her famous voice and TV series.

Ah, the lady loved food. And wine. How can you not love someone so enthusiastic about being happy?

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
― Julia Child



I...more
Ssubrama
This was a very different read than the other Julia biography I just finished which was written by a good friend - someone who worked on her cooking team for years. That one focused on the positive of Julia, on her life after she was already the Julia Child, and had many personal stories and photos that gave insight into Julia's inspiring personality. This one did not leave me quite as inspired, but left me with a more thorough, realistic view of Julia and her development from someone who was l...more
Judy
This short (181) page biography of Julia Child tells her life story and unlocks her broad appeal to the American public. I always enjoyed watching The French Chef, I own Mastering the Art of French Cooking, although I confess that I have only tried a few recipes from the book (all huge successes), and I have visited Julia's kitchen which now resides at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Julia's story is a fascinating one--beginning in California as a wealthy society party-girl, moving into the...more
Emily
A petite book, but the perfect sampling of moments from Julia Child's life to help even those completely new to her accomplishments and contributions to become an impassioned Julia devotee.
Angie
I cannot say that I was a Julia Child fan before I read this book. I didn't really know anything about her. I don't even think I'd ever seen a live clip of her-----just the imitations on Saturday Night Live. Boy, has that changed! She was an incredible person, an incredible chef. She wasn't just a celebrity on tv or someone who compiled recipes. She hyper-analyzed every single recipe, every ingredient, sometimes making recipes 20 times in a row to find what was best and making sure she got the r...more
Tracie
A sweet, enjoyable bio of Julia Child--I was inspired to read this as I recently saw "Julie and Julia" and just had to know more! Rather than re-hash her life (which was quite interesting!), I will leave you with a great quote from the chef herself.

Julia's definition of a good cook is "one who is consistently good--not just a little flair here and there. She can turn out a good meal either simple or complicated, can adapt herself to conditions, and has enough experience to change a failure into...more
Ellen Johnson
My mom was the suburban housewife looking for convenience that never bought into Julia Child's labor intensive type of cooking for fun. But my dad might have liked it if she'd come along after he retired and started watching Food Network.

Fun to think of how attitudes toward food change and which segments of society can and do adopt which perspectives, though the book is never too philosophical. I enjoyed getting to know more about Julia in this little book. I had checked out Spitz's new Dearie a...more
Cinnamon
If you have a mild interest in Julia Child, you'll find this brief bio very interesting. I'd just finished reading a much, much longer and in-depth biography of her so the vast majority of what was in this book was also present in the previous book. However, there were a few short anecdotes that were new to me and these hidden gems were enough to keep me reading it. However, if I knew of someone who was mildly interested in her life and her career, I would suggest this book to be read. The true...more
the golden witch.
I can see why this book earned the 2008 Literary Food Writing Award. After reading "My Life in France", which was in Child's own voice (though aided by her grand-nephew as they were finishing this book within the last year of her life), this book is almost as if Child herself is writing it.

It's actually quite scary how much Shapiro captures Child's life, and how much like Child she uses her words to create the most sumptuous imagery of food, life, and La Belle France. Reading this biography mak...more
Gail
It made me want to go in the kitchen and actually cook!
Darcy
This was a quick and engaging read. Not sure if I liked it as much as I did because it fell on the heels of 'Julie and Julia' (which I couldn't stand) or if it's because it's truly one of the better biographies that I've read. The author explored the many facets of Julia Child making her a breathing living human instead of a comical caricature. She is much more than what is broadcast to the public, and this book helped give context and richness to a woman who lived life to the fullest of her cap...more
Marcia Johnston
Before reading this book, I knew enough about Julia to appreciate Dan Aykroyd's famous parody on SNL and Meryl Streep's portrayal in "Julie and Julia." Thanks to my serendipitous discovery of Laura Shapiro's book in a used bookstore, I now know enough to encourage all of you to find out more about this remarkable woman. If you're looking for a comprehensive biography, this isn't the book for you. But if you want a peek into the life of a woman who inspired millions with her boundless knowledge a...more
Von Schroeder
I enjoyed this book as much the second as the first time.
Sylvia Johnson
A fairly quick read that offers some new information but is an excellent sketch.
Ceily Hamilton
I'm not big on biographies, but this little volume caught my eye. I started loving Julia Child when Maggie was little and we'd catch her with Jacques Pepin. She was just so friendly and enthusiastic. I don't remember much about the first shows she had on PBS, but I'm sure I must have seen them.

Julia was the quintessential late bloomer, finding love and her life's work after 30, and never losing her good cheer despite many setbacks. The book is a nice, compact social history of post-war middle A...more
Ardra
Really glad I listened to this book. Julia Child was an inspiration. She was passionate about cooking and eating, she did not let herself get intimidated about learning French cooking or be afraid of anything it seems, and she was willing to put in lots of hard work and make a lot of mistakes. She figured out how to make French cooking accessible to the average American housewife (this was the 50's/60's) using ingredients they would be able to find at the supermarket.
Collette
Having watched Julia Child on PBS for many years as a child/teen, and after ogling her preserved kitchen in the Smithsonian, I was very interested in finding out a bit about her life. How surprised and disappointed to find out that even though she was a devoted feminist, she was rabidly homophobic. It was even more surprising to learn that the openly gay James Beard was one of her best friends. But, an interesting lady to say the least, and I enjoyed the biography.
Kimberly
Love Julia Child and in my quest to learn a bit more about her, I picked up this book at MFA (Museum of Fine Art) in Boston.

I read it quickly (a day or so) due to the Blizzard of 09 and found that it filled in quite a bit of the blank spots that the movie (Julie and Julia) left out. A different perspective and I still was able to hear her voice as I read the book, "Bon Apetite!"

If you like Julia, you'll like the book!
Phil
What most biographies should be - short, concise, yet with great insight into a fascinating personality. Although I'd grown up in the 60's seeing her on Boston's WGBH in B&W, I read the book in the wake of seing the movie Julie and Julia, to separate fact from fiction. In fact, the movie was pretty accurate, although by necessity it left out a lot, which Ms. Shapiro filled in.

Well done and very readable bio.

Bon Appetite!
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Laura Shapiro is an award winning author who worked at Newsweek for over 15 years.
More about Laura Shapiro...
Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century (California Studies in Food and Culture, 24) Brand X: The Boyfriend Account The Matzo Ball Heiress From Betty Crocker to Feminist Food Studies: Critical Perspectives on Women and Food

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