'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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October 4, 2012

Oh, dearie me...


I think I'm going to abandon this new biography of Julia Child, at least for now. I find her fascinating, and inspiring, and admirable, and I think I would read anything written about her, or try to. It's just that the writing style here is a little too much like reading a 575-page edition of People magazine. I was a little put off even in the opening chapter, which describes her first appearance on newborn public television. I think there was an effort to make her seem fresh, and different, a 'gal' with 'gumption,' unlike anyone ever seen or heard before, but it was done in a way that made her seem a little ridiculous. {I was even a little annoyed with the title. As it turns out, it's not as condescending as it might seem, since it was an expression that Julia often used.  I still think it's an odd choice, but disappointing books can make me crabby.} Or maybe it's especially hard to read a biographer like this after reading a biographer like this?

 I'll probably pick it up again next summer, when a long, entertaining book (it would still be that, at least in parts) might be just what I want, and when it will be less in demand at the library. The reviews I read -- after that disappointing first chapter -- were generally positive, but said that it was better in some parts than in others. In the meantime, I can recommend two excellent books: Julia Child, a short biography by food writer Laura Shapiro, and As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, edited by Joan Reardon, which was one of my favorite books last year.

1 comment:

JoAnn said...

This book has been in my hands every time I've visited B&N over the past several months, but somehow never made it to the cash register. Still want to read it (575 pages of People magazine?), but will wait for the paperback. My Life In France was excellent and I'd love to read the letters to Avis DeVoto, too.

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