The only book even vaguely about Julia Child that I had read before this was Julie and Julia. Although I flipped through Mastering the Art of French Cooking once, I just couldn't get into it at the time. Now that I understand what went into it and all of the history behind it, I just have to try again. (And read her other cookbooks, and watch all the episodes of The French Chef, which I now have on reserve at the library.)
Her descriptions of all the places they lived during Paul Child's years as a diplomat were fascinating. And the food! This is not a book to read hungry! Although I'm sure some of her descriptions were lifted from letters she wrote contemporaneously with the meals, the amount of detail and description is incredible. It's almost like you're there eating with her.
And she was just such a tenacious, brave woman. I can't even imagine walking into a famous cooking school--and one that's not even taught in your native language, at that--as a novice like she did. Then there was the endless recipe testing and insisting on perfection for her books. And did I mention that she didn't even really start learning to cook until she was almost forty? It puts a whole new perspective on being accomplished, doesn't it?
Anyone who's interested in food at all just has to read this book!