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My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex…
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My Life in France (original 2004; edition 2005)

by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme

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3,8061671,363 (4.14)254
Member:briandrewz
Title:My Life in France
Authors:Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme
Info:Knopf (2005), Edition: 1ST, Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:autobiography, domestic science

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My Life in France by Julia Child (2004)

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Showing 1-5 of 163 (next | show all)
I absolutely loved this book from start to finish! It was about Julia's time in France, how she started getting into cooking, working on her cookbook and starting her show. Of course we learned about her and Paul's family, his work and a lot more about their friends, etc.

For the rest of the review, visit my blog at: http://angelofmine1974.livejournal.com/126106.html ( )
  booklover3258 | Apr 19, 2017 |
Last night, I happened upon Julie and Julia on HBO. Although I have seen the film several times, I couldn't help watching it again. It's a fun, but limited portrayal of Julia Child's early years in France. The sadly departed Nora Ephron based her screenplay on two memoirs -- Julie and Julia by Julie Powell and My Life in France by Julia Child.

Skip Julie Powell's memoir (I found it insipid) but if; 1) you adore food and travel, 2) own at least a few cookbooks (maybe one of which is Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking), or 3) need to escape your own, perhaps routine, life for a more exciting one in post WWII France -- then get your winter-weary self a copy* of My Life In France. You'll thank me later.

Julia kept notes and letters, and in the last years of her life, she began to shape this book with her grandnephew Alex Prud'homme. The result is a brilliant journey with Julia Child -- to read this book is to be right with her in France - tasting the food, smelling the baking bread, walking on the French cobblestones and embracing it all with Julia's delight and gusto. This is an engaging story of Julia's early isolation in a foreign country that at once confused but enthralled her, and she faces these challenges with self-deprecation and self-confidence.

There is, of course, an abundance of French food. But there is also hard work -- from her struggles with learning French to outright chauvinism at the male-dominated Corden Bleu cooking school where Julia finally gains admittance. You get a wonderful glimpse into the private lives of Julia and Paul and their remarkable marriage. She tells of "making do" in post war France, of having to initially cook on a hot plate (this will not do!), spotty electrical service and need to shop at individual markets for each meal's provisions. There is a sober side to her memoir as she and Paul deal with an erroneous McCarthy investigation as a result of his OSS work.

Her struggles during the creation of her infamous two volume cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking (which shot to the best seller lists after the release of the Julie and Julia film) are fascinating as Julia painstakingly tests, re-tests and then tests again countless recipes. The perfectionism in the development of her mayonnaise recipe caused me to crack open my copy of the cookbook just to read the recipe. (I have plans to attempt it one of these days.) The differences between flour in France versus America causes great concern for an worthy cross-Atlantic baguette recipe. She tells of the early troubles with the massive two-volume Mastering the Art of French Cooking -- from the many titles considered to publisher rejects and her co-authors dramas.

Julia Child embraced all these experiences - good and bad - as part of a incredible journey and she clearly loved everyone her along the way. This is not just a book about food, this is a book brimming with life -- full of passion, wisdom and her creativity . One can learn a lot from such a well lived life. I hang on to my own copy of My Life In France for gloomy times and a quick dip into its chapters restores my faith in life as an exciting adventure.
*Make sure your copy has Paul's photographs throughout - they are a treasure.
See all my book reviews at Book Barmy
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  BookBarmy | Apr 13, 2017 |
Exactly the same persona as on her shows. I admire her work ethic and passion. ( )
  encephalical | Mar 14, 2017 |
Interesting. I can't say I was crazy about the style, or Julia herself, for that matter, but her enthusiasm and energy came across clearly (relentlessly!) and I found her story to be, mostly, engaging.

Though I'm not actually interested in French food as a general thing, I do remember Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking as a fixture on my mom's cookbook shelf, and I find the social history aspect of the thing – the growing curiosity and excitement about gourmet cooking alongside the increasing availability use of convenience foods among American home cooks in the 50's and early 60's – an appealing subject.

As I read I found myself swinging between aggravation at her brash, self-congratulatory tone and admiration for her passion, curiosity, and drive. I can only imagine how exhausting she must have been to work with, but what a dynamo! And there were several points where my irritation at her “holier than thou” attitude about her father or others was mitigated by her fuller explanation of circumstances – the McCarthy witch hunts really were awful, and the racist, anti-Semitic attitudes of her father and his country club set were instrumental in allowing these un-American persecutions to last as long as they did. Her letter to a McCarthyite committee member at Smith College, Child's alma mater, who was recklessly communist-hunting among the school's professors, inclined me to forgive her a fair number of condescending generalizations about Americans:
”In the blood-heat of pursuing the enemy, many people are forgetting what we are fighting for. We are fighting for our hard-won liberty and freedom, for our Constitution and the due processes of our laws; and for the right to differ in ideas, religion, and politics. And I am convinced that in your zeal to fight against our enemies, you, too, have forgotten what you are fighting for.”

As I said, I'm not a “foodie,” but there were places where Julia's lovingly detailed descriptions of the taste, texture, and smell of meals made me (briefly) feel like getting up to go mess around in the kitchen. Multi-course, complicated meals aren't my thing, but visions of luscious slices of beef wrapped in delicate buttery pastry were dancing in my head. I've never seen her on television, but I'm going to look for some episodes of her show now – her excitement about delicious food really comes across in this book. The challenge of writing down complicated recipes in a way that fully explains but does not intimidate was something I'd not thought much of but learned to appreciate here, and also the issue of translating recipes for readers whose ingredients may be different from the ones the author is using (French flour vs American flour, French chocolate vs American, etc.). Who'd have thought?

Still, there were several aspects of the book I found annoying. The writing itself probably well conveys Julia's storytelling style – it is very breezy, enthusiastic, and sincere. The way the book was written – Julia told stories to Alex Prud-homme and he wrote them up and showed them to her to approve – is very evident. This offers immediacy, but also gives a certain “jumpiness.” Especially in the case of Julia's relationship with her collaborator, Simone Beck, she shifts between describing Simca as a dear friend and valuable partner to claiming that she was careless, uncooperative, and unreliable. Sometimes things are mentioned which seem as though they will have some relevance to the unfolding story, and then they never do. There are some things that struck me as odd that may simply be a function of a ninety-two year old looking back on her life. She describes a restaurant dinner that she and Paul had in France: “Here we were, two young people obviously of rather modest circumstances, and we had been treated with the utmost cordiality, as if we were honored guests. The service was deft and understated, and the food was spectacular.” You might think that they were in their early twenties at this time, but actually Paul was 46 and Julia was 36. And, similarly, she tells about her younger sister visiting them and making obnoxious prank calls to Parisian shops. To hear Julia describe it she clearly thought her sister was engaging in adorably youthful hijinx, but her sister was 31 at the time. In places her dated slang also was a distraction. Still, the story of how an aimless new bride developed into an internationally known cook and author, and how she became an iconic figure on television, rises above these peculiarities and flaws and offers some interesting insights into American social history. Three and a half stars. ( )
  meandmybooks | Nov 17, 2016 |
But not with the movie cover. Lovely lovely book about following your bliss. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 163 (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 editionscalculated
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.
Quotations
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:15 -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)

(summary from another edition)

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