cover image Warming Up Julia Child: The Remarkable Figures Who Shaped a Legend

Warming Up Julia Child: The Remarkable Figures Who Shaped a Legend

Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz. Pegasus, $34.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-64313-938-8

In this serviceable effort, historian Lefkowitz Horowitz (A Taste for Provence) examines the life of American culinary titan Julia Child through her closest relationships. As Lefkowitz Horowitz writes, Child’s accomplishments as a world-renowned chef and author weren’t “achieve[d] alone” but rather with the help of “those who stimulated, nurtured, aided, and championed her”—namely her husband, Paul Child; coauthor Simone “Simca” Beck; friend and publishing guardian angel Avis DeVoto; William Koshland and Judith Jones of Knopf; and Ruth Lockwood, who worked closely on her television show—each of whom is ably captured here. Drawing from missives written from 1951 to 1966, Lefkowitz Horowitz juxtaposes Child’s struggles with self-doubt (while readying Mastering the Art of French Cooking for publication, she wrote to DeVoto that she feared the manuscript would “lay a big rotten egg”) and feeling like a “naïve bumpkin” with intimate exchanges of encouragement between the chef and her most trusted aides, as well as colorful accounts of Child’s achievements as recorded in her husband’s daily diary. Unfortunately, the workmanlike prose (appearing on the cover of Time, as Child did in 1966, was “the most recognizable tribute the U.S. had to offer”) tends to give the narrative a textbook feel, while little to no new revelations are offered about the chef’s life. While it’s a solid recap, this covers mostly familiar material. (Apr.)