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Backstage with Julia: My Years with Julia Child Paperback – April 14, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Barr (We Called It Macaroni) worked with culinary icon Julia Child for 24 years, starting in 1980 as an assistant to Child's monthly live segment on Good Morning America and remaining until Child's death in 2004. This delightful and sprightly backstage look at life with Child (a "Lucille Ball-with-a-rolling-pin character in the kitchen") describes Barr's work as an integral member of "the Julia team" that supported Child's "mind-boggling" schedule of demonstrations, media appearances and book signings. Barr skillfully illustrates Child's "extraordinary drive" in business, showing how "she never took her success or her audiences' acceptance of her work for granted," and how throughout her many ventures, "she maintained the integrity of what she was doing—teaching cooking." A delightful description of a day when the pair "gobbled down Double-Double burgers at the In-N-Out drive thru" illustrates how Child was "as down-to-earth, unguarded, and unselfconsciously outspoken in the company of friends as she was with the cameras rolling." By concentrating on the "memories of the Julia who was my mentor, my colleague, my friend; my story of what made her so special," Barr provides a sweet addition to Noel Riley Fitch's biography Appetite for Life and, recently, Child's autobiography with Alex Prud'Homme, My Life in France. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Backstage With Julia" is packed with endearing anecdotes, like the time Julia got herself and friends into La Grenouille not by dropping her own name but by calling her hairdresser, whose brother was a dishwasher there; how Julia would serve Pepperidge Farm Goldfish for hors d'oeuvres; and Julia on low-fat food: "The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook." Barr's voice is breathless. Her one true revelation? Julia didn't love pasta. But we'd trade a chirpy tale or two for just some good plain writing. ("New York Times Book Review," August 26th, 2007) Barr (We Called it Macaroni) here offers a lovingly written memoir of her years working with and learning from Julia Child. As Child's executive chef for almost 20 years and a producer for Good Morning America and Baking with Julia, she is able to provide a unique glimpse into the early world of culinary television. Of course, she also reveals Child, who comes off witty, warm, and dedicated-to her people and her profession. It was Child's support and encouragement that enabled Barr to form a successful career out of a passionate hobby. The book's greatest strength lies in how Barr has captured the voice and personality of her friend and mentor; her stories about the woman, whether involving a stop for a hot dog at a roadside stand or the graceful way that Child handled mistakes, will enable readers to make a new connection to this larger-than-life figure who did so much to change the perception of food and cooking in America. Recommended for most public libraries. (Photographs not seen.) --Rosemarie Lewis, Broward Cty. P.L., Fort Lauderdale, FL ("Library Journal," May 1, 2007)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 285 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (March 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470276371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470276372
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,810,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Martha Grace Reese on June 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nancy Barr writes beautifully. This sweet-spirited account of her decades with Julia Child provides an insightful, well-integrated, honest, clear lens with which to get one more glimpse of the beloved Julia who inspired and taught so many of us, so well, for so long. Backstage with Julia is a joy to read. Then I headed to the kitchen and started pulling out copper pans, a chickeny chicken, herbs and quantities of butter. Thank you, Ms. Barr!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ages ago I attended the cooking demonstration that Julia Child gave at the Rhode Island School of Design mentioned in this book, the event that was the beginning of the author's relationship with Julia. In a fit of nostalgia I was recently looking for the recipes from the program book that I lost along the way. I "accidentally" bought this book because it appeared it might have them documented since they are mentioned under "Recipes" in the index. Unfortunately, there are only a couple of recipes in the book and these were not among them. The index is misleading that regard. But the book was a light, entertaining read anyway. It charmingly portrays Julia as I would like to remember from seeing her on TV and at this one memorable live encounter: a warm, fun loving person who just loved to cook and wanted everyone else to fearlessly share her passion. If you want a gritty, in-depth expose of Julia's life, this isn't it. But if you remember Julia fondly this will leave you feeling good.
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Format: Hardcover
The book caught my eye in the library, and I read it in a couple of sittings over a weekend (a speed I rarely attain). Though the auther clearly adored Julia, I felt it was nevertheless a transparent view. I found the humor in particular delightful: like the time they became lost together on an auto trip following Julia's road map skills (from a 40 year old map), and, when confronted with a street that ended abruptly with a large rock outcropping Julia exclaims "meteors!"

A great read on a relationship between genius and her clear headed "straight man."
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Format: Paperback
I picked up this boook as I had enjoyed other books about Julia Child and this did not disappoint. The behind-the-scenes details are fascinating. I never watched Julia Child's show and am not interested in gourmet cooking at all. But Verde Barr takes us back in time to meet the real Julia - I like that she does not sugarcoat facts and is honest with both her own faults as well as Julia's. Even the smallest details are written so well there is never a dull moment. I am having a hard time putting this own down and am already recommending this to my friends. Also, thank you Ms. Barr for writing this wonderful book as it has inspired me to start thinking of writing my own story of working backstage in a casino showroom - only hope I can do as well as this. This book should have at least four stars if not five!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a well written little treasure covering the the friendship that evolved between Nancy Barr and Julia Child starting in 1980 when the author first assisted in organizing one of Julia's cooking demonstrations and continuing through work on her TV shows, cookbooks, and magazine articles. There are details about the productions and being on the road with Julia and visiting her at home.
Barr recounts Russ Morash's acronym for what Julia was like in person: "WYSIWYG" for "what you see is what you get". Julia could not be other than herself whether on "The French Chef" or anywhere else. Her tireless enthusiasm and good nature abound and are inspiring. Thanks Nancy Barr for this honest and warm appreciafion of your friend Julia Child.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a sweet book full of anecdotes and the bright one-liners of the irrepressible Julia Child. I have read several books by and about Julia Child and she had such a wide-ranging and varied personality that each book covers a different time, place, and aspect of the original foodie -- or "cook", as she called herself.

I did find myself skimming through the last half of this book, though -- mainly because the print and the pages were so small that it was difficult to read, and the reproductions of old hand-written postcards and recipes were impossible to make out without using a magnifying glass. Even some of the photographs (and almost all of the captions) had to be magnified, which is a shame because the photo of Julia peeking through the slats of a truck full of lambs, some of them looking back at her, was delightful, as were several others.

Nancy Verde Barr is a tiny woman and she and Julia came close to being a Mutt and Jeff type of troupe, so the book size fits Nancy, but it is too small for me, especially when my cat is snuggled on my lap and has to be constantly moved around when I have to get to my small magnifying glass, but without it I would not be able to read the recipes, etc., so for this reason I am glad there are so few in this book.

Nancy Barr also lost me at some point in the last quarter of the book, which could have been avoided with some editing. Julia's husband Paul seems to be ill for the entire book, popping up now and then with a witty remark, and then dies ... I can't figure out the ages of the author's children as there are photos of them as little boys and two or three pages later they appear to be adults ...
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