Dearie The Remarkable Life of Julia Child

I confess, I thought I did know, rather in a vague kind of way, a bit about Julia Child before picking up this biography.  The image in my mind primarily being the Saturday Night Live Skit — which apparently Julia loved — which had Dan Aykroyd in full Julia regalia cutting himself and bleeding out on camera.  And I knew, of course, that she had a love of France, and French food, and had, in some way, changed America’s perceptions about what they might prepare for their table.  What I did not know, was how frightfully ignorant I was about Julia herself, as a person, and a woman and a pioneer of public television, food, and too many other things to mention here.  In other words, my Julia was a vague sort of cultural icon who I grudgingly accorded some small place in culinary history.  I didn’t understand that behind this cultural icon there was an enormously complex, sometimes lost, gawky woman who was hell-bent on making a name and a place for herself in the stifling time in which she was living.  And that in so doing she would change our very culture.  Fortunately, I can now say that I am now much more informed, enlightened, and entirely in awe of a woman so determined to succeed, so serious about her passion, and so entirely complex that it makes my mind spin.  Bob Spitz has given us an extremely thorough, entertaining, and detailed biography of one of the great women of our — or for that matter anyone’s —  time.  There is so much solid research here and you feel the author’s love and deep respect for his subject, all of which makes a fascinating read.

If you have even the slightest passing interest in food, or culture, or France, or the cultural mores of an America long gone then by all means please put down your knife and fork, or whatever you are holding, and pick up this wonderful book.  Sit down with a glass of wine and settle in.  And, as Julia herself would tell you, bon appétit.

“I think every woman should have a blowtorch.”
― Julia Child

“Everything in moderation… including moderation.”
― Julia Child

“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”
― Julia Child

May We Be Forgiven

After a lazy summer of reading too many things I was too embarrassed to blog about ( which may be another blog topic entirely) my brain is finally focussed again and just in time to pick up the new novel from A.M. Homes.  Homes is a darkly funny writer, who always has a keen eye, and in this case she turns it on the modern American family which she dissects with almost surgical precision.  It’s almost impossible to put this book down, which begins on Thanksgiving day and covers approximately a year of time in which we watch the lives of two brothers who have been at constant odds unravel spectacularly and unexpectedly .  Like many family dramas this one is a noisy train wreck in startling slow motion.  All the characters are eerily familiar and of course while some survive, some others do not and it is the gift of this writer that she brings her own sense of humor into what in other hands would be a book too bleak to contemplate.  If all of this sounds entirely too dark for you, don’t worry.  There is redemption here and like everything A.M. Homes writes about  it unfolds beautifully in the hands of this skilled author.