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My Life in France by Julia Child

My Life in France (2004)

by Julia Child

Other authors: Alex Prud'Homme (Author)

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Showing 1-5 of 142 (next | show all)
Julia Child's ebullience, cheer, joi de vivre, comes through clearly in this memoir, as does her love for France and French cuisine. But, that is not all that comes through. Her focus, drive, determination and a tough inner-core are also revealed.

I really enjoyed this memoir. It was interesting to read about how she followed her dream to fruition and how she became America's definitive French Chef.

Besides, I defy anyone who is old enough to remember her television work not to smile at her cheery "Bon apetite!". ( )
  bookwoman247 | Mar 25, 2014 |
My Life in France is beloved and iconic chef Julia Child’s autobiography. It spans her life, but really focuses on her time in France while she got her culinary education, both formally at Le Cordon Bleu and informally on the streets of Paris, and spent almost a decade writing her landmark cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

After reading this book, I wanted to be Julia Child’s best friend. And I wanted to move to France. Since neither of these things is likely to happen any time soon, I treasure the presence of this book in my life. I can pluck it from my bookshelf (or, ahem, check it out from the public library) any time I want and be instantly transported to Julia’s France – and oh! what a France it is. I defy anyone not to fall in love with the French locales described in this book. The colors, the smells, and, most of all, the tastes of all the places Julia and her beloved husband Paul lived and visited – from Paris to the port city of Marseille – will stay with you long after you finish reading.

And then there is Julia herself, whose character simply bursts off the pages. She has this big, fun, boisterous, passionate personality and you really come to feel as if you know her – as if she is speaking straight to you from across a little, round, Parisian table, telling you her stories.

Many of these stories are about her cookbook, her life’s work, and contain all the right kind of fascinating details about the process of its creation – making you feel like you are a lucky observer peeking into a wonderful, secret world you were never meant to see. Many other stories are personal ones of her life with her husband Paul. Their tender, solid relationship is the part of this book that I was least expecting, but most enjoyed. Their life as described in these pages – despite unavoidable hard times, including a brush with Senator McCarthy and a depressed period of living in Germany – is truly enviable, full of adventure, laughter, mutual respect, and intense devotion.

This book was also, of course, the inspiration for the Julia-half of the 2009 movie Julie & Julia, written and directed by the late Nora Ephron. ( )
  booklovercook | Feb 20, 2014 |
4.5/5 ( )
  TracyRae | Feb 6, 2014 |
"This is a book about some of the many things I have loved most in life: my husband, Paul Child; la belle France; and the many pleasures of cooking and eating."

In 1948, Julia Child accompanied her husband Paul to his new U.S. Information Service posting in Paris. She didn't speak French and (surprisingly to me) she didn't really cook. But she was determined to get the most out of the opportunity she'd been given, so she immersed herself in the language, both by taking classes and by getting out into the city, especially its food markets, and talking with the natives. She also decided to take cooking lessons at the Cordon Bleu. Julia eventually started her own cooking lessons with two French friends, and the three of them decided to work on a book that would really teach Americans to cook French food, which had become Julia's passion. That book grew from a small volume of recipes her partners (Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle) had already written to the massive, 700+ page (and that was only Volume 1!) Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Back in the U.S. in the 1960s, a cooking demonstration on a Massachusetts public television show led to the first successful cooking show, The French Chef, and Julia became a public icon. (Today, you can visit an exact recreation of her home kitchen at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.)

Julia Child was a big woman (6' 2") with a big personality, and her whole self really shines through in this memoir. I felt very much as if she was sitting next to me on the couch, telling me stories. In the quote at the top, Julia described her book to a T--the book is as much about a happy, passionate 50-year marriage, and about her love of France (the country and its people), as it is about food. Julia wrote this book with Paul's grandnephew, relying on the hundreds of letters the couple had written home throughout their stay in France. Paul is best known today as Julia Child's husband, but he was an artist and photographer who had photos in the Museum of Modern Art collection, and the book is enlivened by Paul's pictures throughout. (On a previous stay, pre-Julia, in France in the 1920s, Paul had worked on the stained-glass windows at the American Church in Paris. His willingness, despite lifelong vertigo, to climb up into the eaves to work on the high windows earned him the nickname "Tarzan of the Apse.")

A good companion read to this would be As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto. Julia and Avis struck up a pen-pal correspondence when Julia wrote a fan letter to Avis's husband (American historian Bernard DeVoto) regarding a column he'd written about how he hated stainless-steel knives. Avis was instrumental in getting Mastering the Art of French Cooking published, and that long and fascinating process, as well as Julia and Paul's experiences with McCarthyism (which led to their disillusionment with government work and their eventual return to private life), is covered in more detail in their letters than it was in My Life in France.

Julia died before this book was finished, and while I think Alex Prud'homme did an excellent job of maintaining Julia's voice throughout, the end feels a bit disjointed and rushed, but that didn't take away much from the pleasure of reading this book. Just one caution--don't read it on an empty stomach!
3 vote cabegley | Jan 25, 2014 |
As I expected, this was a great book. It has much to offer about Julia Child: her life, stories about food, and much about France. Very enjoyable read.

I love Julia Child and want to watch some of her old shows, too. What a personality SHE WAS!!! ( )
  honkcronk | Oct 10, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 142 (next | show all)
For me, reading Julia Child’s memoir felt like going home.
"My Life in France," written with Alex Prud'homme, is Child's exuberant, affectionate and boundlessly charming account of that transformation. It chronicles, in mouth-watering detail, the meals and the food markets that sparked her interest in French cooking, and her growing appreciation of all things French."
added by lorax | editNew York Times, William Grimes (Apr 8, 2006)

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Julia Childprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Prud'Homme, AlexAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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This is a book about some of the things I have loved most in life; my husband, Paul Child; la belle France; and the many pleasures of cooking and eating.
Usually one's cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, as my ersatz eggs Florentine surely were, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile - and learn from her mistakes.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307277690, Paperback)

Book Description

Julia Child single handedly awakened America to the pleasures of good cooking with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show The French Chef, but as she reveals in this bestselling memoir, she didn't know the first thing about cooking when she landed in France.

Indeed, when she first arrived in 1948 with her husband, Paul, she spoke no French and knew nothing about the country itself. But as she dove into French culture, buying food at local markets and taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, her life changed forever. Julia's unforgettable story unfolds with the spirit so key to her success as a cook and teacher and writer, brilliantly capturing one of the most endearing American personalities of the last fifty years.

Julie & Julia is now a major motion picture (releasing in August 2009) starring Meryl Streep as Julia Child. It is partially based on her memoir, My Life in France. Enjoy these images from the film, and click the thumbnails to see larger images.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:09 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Here is the captivating story of Julia Child's years in France, where she fell in love with French food and found "her true calling." From the moment she and her husband Paul, who worked for the USIS, arrived in the fall of 1948, Julia had an awakening that changed her life. Soon this tall, outspoken gal from Pasadena, California, who didn't speak a word of French and knew nothing about the country, was steeped in the language, chatting with purveyors in the local markets, and enrolled in the Cordon Bleu. She teamed up with two fellow gourmettes, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, to help them with a book on French cooking for Americans. Filled with her husband's beautiful black-and-white photographs as well as family snapshots, this memoir is laced with wonderful stories about the French character, particularly in the world of food, and the way of life that Julia embraced so wholeheartedly. Bon appétit!--From publisher description.… (more)

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