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Appetite for Life

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About the Author

Noel Riley Fitch is the author of Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties and Anais: The Erotic Life of Anais Nin, as well as other books chronicling the French-American artistic experience. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles and on the Left Bank in Paris. She has one grown daughter.


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.)

"Because Child allowed Fitch complete access to her papers, we get a real feel for the relentless work that went into the much-massaged Mastering."--Washington Post"Fitch's richly detailed biography of Child describes how a plainspoken woman who loved food inspired millions to pick up a whisk and make a fine French dinner from scratch."--Newsweek"Makes Julia [Child's] evolution from high-security clerk to cook to writer to star an incredible adventure."--Boston Globe"A delicious recounting of the life of the woman who has inspired confidence in generations of American cooks."--Town & Country"Entertaining and informative--represents the best of biographical writing."--Library Journal

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