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Entering Karbohemia

February 12, 2015

9780762783090_p0_v1_s260x420Rain, rain, rain, and more rain. Last week I was so depressed I considered buying a S.A.D. light. Instead, I read Karen Karbo’s Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life, and voilà, I was instantly lifted out of my black hole.

Karbo dishes up a book on Child that, despite the many volumes written about the woman already, is fresh, funny, and wildly entertaining. This is not a fan book written by a foodie, though it certainly has plenty of food anecdotes, nor is it a Child memoir in the strictest sense, but it is jammed with interesting tidbits about Child’s personal life. What Karbo set out to do was break down Child’s life to figure out how she found fame, fortune, and love despite her Amazon-esque stature, her lackluster performance in college, and her romantically-bereft teens, twenties, and half of her thirties.

The secrets of living life to the fullest and succeeding far beyond your wildest dreams can be found under chapter headings such as Live With Abandon, All You Need Is a Kitchen and a Bedroom, and Every Woman Should Have a Blowtorch. Yes, of course!, there’s lots of wine, sex, and blatant disregard for the opinions of others when it comes to doing what she wants. Wonderful stuff!

Child’s bawdy, raucous, and joy-filled life combined with Karbo’s darkly comical Nora Ephron-ish sense of humor make Julia Child Rules the perfect antidote to anything that ails you. I love the way Karbo puts her own anxieties and personal failures on the page to demonstrate a point. That quality coupled with her prodigious research on Child culminates in a wonderful pièce de résistance. Actually, if you must know, Karbo quite endeared herself to me with this book; I was already a Julia Child fan.

And may I add that Cheryl Strayed blurbed, “…manages on every page to be as enlightening as it is entertaining, as smart as it is funny…intimate, inspiring, and unlike anything I’ve ever read about Child before…Karbo’s unparalleled wit and wisdom…”

This was my first foray in Karbohemia, which is surprising since she’s written a slew of award-winning books including The Gospel According to Coco Chanel, How Georgia Became O’Keeffe, and How to Hepburn, which are all part of her Kick Ass Women series. Her memoir about her father, The Stuff of Life, was a New York Times Notable Book, a People Magazine Critics’ Pick, and winner of the Oregon Book Award for Creative Non-fiction. Her short stories, essays, and articles have appeared everywhere, and she was one of the lucky 24 writers who copped an Amtrak Residency last year.

23257842P.S. Karbo’s Diamond Lane: A Novel was reissued by Portland’s Hawthorne Books last September. Originally published in 1991, The New York Times loved it—declaring it one of the best novels of 1991, and described it as, “A wonderfully comic novel about savvy Hollywood outsiders trying to get in…not only is the plot ingenious, but the writing remains deft all the way through.” Will definitely look for a copy and you should, too.

Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life skirt!, 2013

  1. Love Julia Child. Unfamiliar with Karbo, but she sounds wonderful. Thank you for the introduction.

  2. Hey there! LOVE your review! You always make me want to read books. Now here’s another I’ve got to buy.

    Great to see you back to reviews, although maybe you’ve been doing it all along. I don’t have my WordPress account anymore so maybe I’m just not getting them–not sure. But you’re really good at this.

    Ordering it right now:-)


    Sent from my iPhone


  3. This is my first review on my blog in a year, Cindy. I’ve been over at Foreword Reviews and elsewhere. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did! Hope to see you soon.

  4. Now that you’ve entered Karbohemia, who knows where we’ll find you next? Thanks for this very spirited introduction to Karen Karbo’s work.

  5. Oh, this is wonderful! This sounds like just what the doctor ordered for this relentless winter! And I love your bookshelf — we have so many of the same books! Love, love, love this. More please.

    • Thanks, Tricia! What was supposed to be a short break lasted over a year, but I’m finally ready to dig back in. Plus, I’ve read so many good books lately that I must talk about them. Thanks for dropping by! More of my reviews are at xo

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