[Cross-posted from New Books in Biography] I confess I knew nothing about Julia Child prior to reading Bob Spitz‘s new book. And yet, from the dramatic opening passages through its 500+ pages, Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child (Knopf, 2012) held me captive.
How many people, much less women, change our attitudes, beliefs, and culture? Julia Child did. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that she did so by becoming a television star at the age of 50.
One of the problems of biography is that women’s lives are so often written so badly. Whereas the telling of men’s lives emphasizes adventure, in the lives of women biographers tend to emphasize relationships and romance. Not so Dearie.
From the outset, Spitz contends that Child led a life of adventure and, while her relationships play a role in the story, they are not at its center. Rather, Child is the star from page 1. Thus, Dearie is an unconventional story of an unconventional woman who made unconventional decisions. Which is to say, biographically speaking, it is a breath of fresh air.