Karbo’s (The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World’s Most Elegant Woman, 2011, etc.) delightful foray into Julia Child’s life blends entertaining facts with Child-inspired lessons for living the good life.
The author chronicles the great cooking instructor’s childhood in Southern California, her work in Sri Lanka, her lifelong love affair with Paul Child, her trials while learning to cook and her midlife TV career. Child’s life has been dissected many times, but Karbo adds a personal layer to the narrative. While exploring her inspirational and aspirational qualities, the author weaves in bittersweet memories of her family life and her mother, an early fan of Child’s. As an explanation of America’s complex fascination with Child, Karbo writes, “[m]y theory is that our real attachment to Julia is less about her cooking, or even about what she did for the cause of serious cuisine, and more about our admiration for her immutable aptitude for being herself.” The author holds Child up as an example of a woman comfortable in her own skin, intent on creating good food and finding a passion in life. Karbo underscores the lessons for achieving a happy life, as lived by Child, using chapter titles like “Live with Abandon,” “All You Need Is a Kitchen and a Bedroom” and “Cooking Means Never Saying You’re Sorry.” Along the way, the author ladles out solid advice for contemporary women on a variety of topics, including the joy of hard work and how to both cultivate ways to amuse yourself and disobey the rules that society sets out for women. “Julia pretty much ignored the whole thing, and it may be the only real lesson there is for the end of our days,” writes Karbo about Child’s take on old age. “Just pretend like it isn’t happening, until you have no choice but to accept reality.”
A lighthearted trek through a food icon’s life, studded with satisfying tips for modern living.