When you think of covert operations, what comes to mind? Espionage, international intrigue, adventure and…Julia Child? After reading Jennet Conant’s new book, A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS, you just might change your perception of the typical spy story. At age 30, Julia Child found herself with very little success for her efforts in marketing and writing and rejected by both the Army and Navy for her height. Finally, she was recruited by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), America’s civilian spy outfit, as a file clerk. Eventually, she began to work in the field with Paul Child and, amongst missions in Southeast Asia and the terror of the McCarthy trials, the two fell in love. Conant’s book details Julia Child’s life before the OSS, the unlikely trajectory of her and Paul Child’s relationship and the personal and professional pitfalls associated with the life of a spy. How did a lanky, eccentric 30-year-old woman and a worldly, sophisticated ladies man initiate a relationship while working as spies? How was Julia Child’s secret kept under wraps for so long?
Jennet Conant, author of A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS