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As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child…

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto

by Joan Reardon (Editor), Julia Child (Author), Avis De Voto (Author)

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Hardly a book I expected to find so engrossing and detailed and personal; with very minimal bridging materials and introductions, this collection of letters between the title women is engrossing for their discussions of cooking, writing, contemporary politics (fascinating looks at the McCarthy era on both their parts), and more. A book of interest whether you're a fan of cooking or not.

I'd picked this up on a whim at the library for my wife to thumb through, and insomnia (and a well structured book with great voices in the letters) had me finishing this before she'd even looked at it. ( )
  SESchend | Sep 6, 2017 |
I have been slowly picking away at this book. I love it while I am reading it but I think it is time to turn it in. I will come back to it, I love watching the friendship between these 2 women grow through letters. ( )
  mlake | Apr 28, 2015 |
Really worthwhile but not a fast read. Through their correspondence, Julia Child and Avis DeVoto became not only the best of friends but also wildly successful publishing collaborators (in bringing to fruition arguably the most famous and influential cookbook of the mid-twenteth century). Reading these letters, which can feel uncomfortably intrusive at times, is a fascinating glimpse into their lives. Joan Reardon does an admirable job of filling in the background and including discreet footnotes identifying the many people who are mentioned in passing. The subject matter occasionally gets repetitive and tedious (particularly the political observations, which after a while tend to fall into the category of "more of the same"); personally, I would have been much more heavy handed about winnowing the letters. Nevertheless, the book is a real treat, a rare opportunity to observe the myriad circumstances which brought about publication of a seminal book and ultimately launched Julia Child into the public eye. ( )
  LizHD | Mar 25, 2015 |
Julia Child (1912-2004) is the well-known author, with Simone Beck, of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a comprehensive two-volume cookbook that demystified French cuisine for millions of American home cooks. As Always, Julia shows how this master work was discovered, created, and published, and tells the story through letters between Julia and Avis DeVoto. Without Avis, the cookbook might never have been seen by the major US publishing houses. And Julia and Avis might never have known each other, were it not for a letter from Julia to Bernard DeVoto, who wrote for Harper's Magazine. Avis was handling her husband's correspondence, and in replying to Julia began a friendship that blossomed and endured throughout their lives.

The letters between Julia and Avis are a delight to read. The two women chat amiably about their families, discover common ground in their political beliefs, and share their passion for fine cuisine. Their initial reserve melted away very quickly, and it's clear each had discovered a kindred spirit. As Julia developed recipes, Avis worked tirelessly to establish connections with the publishing industry. Also, since Julia was stationed in Europe with her husband Paul, Avis also provided valuable insight on the typical American cook, and ingredients commonly found in American supermarkets. The two women also routinely sent each other ingredients and equipment that the other could not find locally.

Having used Mastering the Art of French Cooking myself, it was interesting to see how some of the recipes developed over time, and the logic behind the book's overall structure. I'm eager to try my hand at some new-to-me recipes, and will enjoy doing so with Julia and Avis' friendship in mind. ( )
  lauralkeet | Mar 31, 2014 |
Reardon has done an excellent job with these letters. Anyone interested in Julia Child, Bernard DeVoto, the early life of Mark DeVoto, Cambridge, Mass. in the 1950s, American book publishing in the 1950's, American cooking in the 1950s, the hatred of Democrats for the Eisenhower administration through the eyes of Avis DeVoto, or the making of Julia Child's masterpiece cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, will enjoy this book. 5 stars, with no hesitation. Highly recommended. ( )
  labwriter | Aug 31, 2013 |
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The pleasures of “As Always, Julia” are modest but real. This book feels like chick lit — or should I call these women very game hens? — of an exalted order. The sound it makes is that of two housewives, each in her 40s, becoming pen pals and then ecstatic soul mates in the dreary 1950s. They let rip about all kinds of things, from shallots, beurre blanc and the misery of dried herbs to politics, aging and sex.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Reardon, JoanEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Child, JuliaAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
De Voto, AvisAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Russian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
To the trustees, administrators, and staff of the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University, whose vision made available the letters and special collections that have made all my publications possible including As Always, Julia.

And to William Truslow, the trusted lawyer, friend, and custodian of Julia Child's legacy, and Mark DeVoto, the beloved and accomplished son of Avis DeVoto.
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Almost three and a half years after arriving in Paris with her husband, Paul, Julia Child read an rticle in a 1951 issue of Harper's written by the historian and prolific journalist Bernard DeVoto.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0547417713, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2010: Though this collection of letters between Julia Child and her savvy friend, cook, and confidante, Avis DeVoto, may be voluminous, its narrative force is immediate. Julia and Avis shared a voracious curiosity about ingredients, gadgets, recipes, and methods that any home cook worth her salt will find wonderful to read. Their testing and tasting in large part fueled Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the now-legendary and game-changing cookbook that Avis, upon reading an early chapter, said "could be a classic and make your fortune and go on selling forever." Avis was an instant and unwavering champion of the book and shepherded its long journey towards publication stateside, as Julia and her co-authors in France worked doggedly on the manuscript, and there couldn't have been a better or brighter for advocate for the book's target audience. As a mid-century American housewife, Avis participated both eagerly and critically in the renaissance age of culinary convenience: she details her experiments with the frozen, freeze-dried, canned, and casseroled with a wonderful sense of humor and taste. These pieces are particularly fascinating to read now, as we resurrect the slow, local approach to home cooking, and her perspective on what was available to American cooks at that time is a seamless counterpart to her commentary on the cookbook itself, which she praises time and again for its classical richness and modern practicality. Julia writes to Avis early on that "people who love to eat are always the best people," and certainly nothing could be truer of these two formidable and gracious gourmandes. --Anne Bartholomew

Product Description

With her outsize personality, Julia Child is known around the world by her first name alone. But despite that familiarity, how much do we really know of the inner Julia?

Now more than 200 letters exchanged between Julia and Avis DeVoto, her friend and unofficial literary agent memorably introduced in the hit movie Julie & Julia, open the window on Julia’s deepest thoughts and feelings. This riveting correspondence, in print for the first time, chronicles the blossoming of a unique and lifelong friendship between the two women and the turbulent process of Julia’s creation of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, one of the most influential cookbooks ever written. Frank, bawdy, funny, exuberant, and occasionally agonized, these letters show Julia, first as a new bride in Paris, then becoming increasingly worldly and adventuresome as she follows her diplomat husband in his postings to Nice, Germany, and Norway.

With commentary by the noted food historian Joan Reardon, and covering topics as diverse as the lack of good wine in the United States, McCarthyism, and sexual mores, these astonishing letters show America on the verge of political, social, and gastronomic transformation.

More to Explore
(Click on Images to Enlarge)

The Young Julia Child: Occasionally insecure, always opinionated, never dull

The Young Julia Child: Occasionally insecure, always opinionated, never dull

Julia’s  letter to Avis after Houghton Mifflin rejected her cookbook

Julia’s letter to Avis after Houghton Mifflin rejected her cookbook

An enterprising cook, Avis had a nose for a great book

An enterprising cook, Avis had a nose for a great book

Joan Reardon

Culinary historian, cookbook author, and biographer Joan Reardon

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:12 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Presents more than 200 letters exchanged between Julia and Avis DeVoto, her friend and unofficial literary agent. This collection opens the window on Julia's deepest thoughts and feelings.

» see all 2 descriptions

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