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Julia, from childhood to success

She did not always have star qualities

By Lindley Estes

The Free Lance-Star

JULIA CHILD was just as aimless and confused about her future as

everyone else.

Bob Spitz, author of the new Child biography “Dearie,” wrote about her early life, “Julia had shown no previous evidence of accomplishment, not for work     not for exploring her potential.  Julia lamented, ‘I never had any brilliance whatsoever.’”

Spitz’s biography shows Child not only as the woman who made authentic French cooking accessible to housewives, but a more complicated figure who wandered  rather than  strove toward her fame.

The real gems of the book are in the surprising details that reinforce Child as the television persona-less woman who messed up a potato pancake flip on air and told audiences, “You can always pick it up if you’re alone in the kitchen.”

The book begins with her childhood in Pasadena and continues through her time at Smith College, then in the OSS, eventually going to France,  and her stint at Le Cordon Bleu and the publication of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”

Spitz offers a more complete picture of the enigmatic chef, showing why she was able to relate to American audiences and change their ideas about cooking.

Though it takes a while to pick up momentum, once it does “Dearie” is well worth reading to discover the little-known aspects of Child and to realize that even she once lacked direction.

Lindley Estes  is a reporter  for The Free Lance–Star.

DEARIE: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child

By Bob Spitz

(Knopf, $29.95, 576 pp.)


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