By Noel Riley Fitch
Anchor Books, $18.95, 569 pages

What a pleasure it is to read an authorized biography of a recognized figure that both captures the subject and is also meticulously researched and well-written. In this case, the subject is Julia Child, the exuberant American chef, author and television personality who is often credited with introducing French cuisine to North American kitchens. Before her death in 2004, Julia was interviewed frequently by Fitch, who was also given full access to personal diaries, letters, photographs and other documents. The end result, first published in 1997, and now including a new introduction by the author, is an engaging portrait of a popular icon that goes beyond a simple retelling of events. Fitch instead allows Julia’s personality and joie de vivre shine through.

From her privileged childhood in Pasadena, California, to her marriage and travels, her education and later career as a celebrity chef, the story of a life well and fully lived is told in the words of the subject herself along with those of family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues and even critics.  Recommended for readers who enjoy a good biography, as well as anyone interested in knowing more about this beloved and distinctively American figure.


Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen,