Appetite for Life

Noel Riley Fitch, Author
Noel Riley Fitch, Author Doubleday Books $25.95 (592p) ISBN 978-0-385-48335-3
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Paperback - 569 pages - 978-0-385-49383-3
Paperback - 569 pages - 978-0-307-94838-0
Ebook - 483 pages - 978-0-307-76285-6
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Julia McWilliams was always adventurously hunting for food to fill her 6'2"" frame. When, in her late 20s, the Smith College-educated Californian took a wartime job with the OSS that sent her to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and China, she began cultivating a taste for authentic eatables as an alternative to service fare. Almost resigned to spinsterhood, she met and married Cambridge, Mass.-born government official Paul Child, who was on Asian duty, and accompanied him to his USIA posts in France and Germany. A gastronomical epiphany that occurred in Rouen, at the bistro where the couple once lunched, led her to attend the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris--and the rest is history. In 1961, Child published the three-pound bestseller Mastering the Art of French Cooking when she was 49, and a few years later she was a TV superstar conducting gustatory symphonies with whisks and pans and patter. Her life is told warmly and compellingly by Fitch, author of several books on literary and culinary Paris, who nicely captures Child's exuberant mannerisms and plummy voice that fans know so well. Her graphic diary-letters, extracted at length by Fitch, register the couple's experiences together and the emotions they shared. Now in her mid-80s, Child lives in a retirement village in Santa Barbara, Calif. (Oct.)
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