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Julia Child: A Life

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  653 Ratings  ·  126 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
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 28th 2009 by Penguin Books (first published 2007)
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Jill Moore
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
There is a difference between the Julia Child we want to believe we know and the human being that existed. I've had a fascination with Julia for the longest of times and have read lots of books about her, her cooking, her marriage to Paul Child, and her life in France. Ms. Shapiro provided me with a deeper look into the woman beneath the surface. Alongside the stories of her rise to culinary stardom are quotes that show a different side -- one of disdain for homosexuality in the 50's and 60's (a ...more
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
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
Jan 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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!
Mme LionHead
This was not a very impressive book. Anyone wants to know more about Julia Child's personal life and her journey to becoming an icon in the culinary world should just read her autobiography "My Life in France". This book didn't offer many new insights that weren't already covered in Child's own book. I did find Child's view on traditional male-female roles and her disapproval on homosexuality interesting. One would assume she could be a feminist as herself being a working wife, and yet, her pers ...more
Listened to the audiobook of this bits and pieces at a time over a month. Having only experienced Julia Child previously in the movie featuring Meryl Streep I was interested in hearing more about her, her life, and her cooking. Which this book delivered.

I particularly enjoyed the mention of a green jello salad recipe that Julia disliked as it is one that my grandmother used to make and continues to be made each Christmas long after she was gone, that I also don't care for. heh.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An easy, quick read about the makings of an amazing, inspiring, Julia Child. From her days as a file- clerk to how she became a tv cooking sensation, this books touches on all the highlights we all know and love about Julia Child. Loved this little book!
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well written.
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short and balanced biography. Excellent introduction to the larger than life personality that she was.
This is a bio of Julia Child. It was interesting in that it gave information not just about what was happening but also some of Julia's politics and feelings about her times.
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A good concise biography, but hardly has any details of the food, blasphemous in a book about Julia Child. There are much better books out there for Julia Child aficionados.
Ghaida Moussa
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and easy read about Julia Child's life (from her thirties onwards)
Nov 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful little book
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
Lee L.
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Did you know that Julia Child was a devout atheist? There are many details about Julia Child's life that her adoring public did not know. This small but comprehensive biography is an excellent overview of her long life and successful career. I had heard about her work during World War II, but I didn't know the details of her training, how her acclaimed first cook book came to be, or what went into the success of her TV shows. All these things and more are included here.

What shocked me the most w
Dec 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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
Dec 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

Sep 22, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Dec 19, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 19, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
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
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
Sep 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Laura Shapiro is an award winning author who worked at Newsweek for over 15 years.
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