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Celebrating Julia Child’s birthday with a good read

Addie Broyles

Julia Child would have turned 101 today.

To coincide with her 100th birthday last year, award-winning biographer Bob Spitz published “Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child,” which might be the thickest, most comprehensive book yet on the famed television host and author.

I didn’t write about the book when it came out because, to be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what else could be said about Child, who started a career in food when she was almost 50 years old but became one of its most celebrated icons in the decades that followed. Child’s life had already been picked apart and analyzed by dozens of authors and academics, and after the renewed interest in her life that “Julie & Julia” inspired, I was ready for a break from all things JC.

But then I started reading Spitz’s book ahead of an event he did at BookPeople in May.

Spitz, a musician and former manager for Bruce Springsteen and Elton John who became famous in his own right after writing definitive biographies of Bob Dylan and the Beatles, has an incredible ability to unearth the most fascinating details about people and bring them to life through unbelievably vibrant prose.

Having been asked to be her guide during a trip to Italy late in her life, Spitz knew Julia personally, but he didn’t write about her through the lens of a friend. He interviewed hundreds of people who worked with her to recreate some amazing turning points in her life and career, including the very first time she appeared on television, a scene that he uses in the first chapter of the book.

Whether you’re a Julia Child diehard who celebrates her birthday every year, like many at her alma mater, Smith College, do, or someone like me who has been so saturated with Julia fandom that you thought there wasn’t anything left to learn, you have to check out “Dearie.”

You’ll see someone you thought you knew in a totally new light.