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My Life in France (2004)

by Julia Child, Alex Prud'homme

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4,4141881,779 (4.15)273
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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» See also 273 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 186 (next | show all)
So this book felt off to me about a 1/3 of the way through. I definitely liked the bits about Child learning about cooking and how she fell in love with French cooking. That said, she seemed self absorbed at times. Also I thought it was weird how Child would talk about others and say they were not intellectual. No offense, but I didn't get that she was one either. This book talks about certain things like the "Red Scare" and all, but it skips over things that I would think that Child, a supposed Democrat would highlight, like the Civil Rights Movement. I definitely got a sense of the snobbish about her at times. The ending was very rushed I thought. We somehow go from the 1970s to Child fast forwarding past 20 years to recount the deaths of her friends and her saying goodbye to a home that she and her husband Paul lived part-time in, in France.

"My Life in France" follows Child as she and her husband Paul start a new assignment in France in 1948. The book follows Child as she slowly starts to become enthralled with French cooking and then her taking cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu. From there we have Child meeting Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck who she would have a life-long friendship with and also co-author the famous "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."

I always tell people that memoirs are tricky. You have to be open about parts of yourself to readers and a lot of people don't do that. I have read a few cooking memoirs, and this is definitely my least favorite. I think at times it was because I felt that Child or her co-author, Alex Prud'Homme censored certain things. I was left with a lot of questions about Child and her husband Paul. I also thought it sounded like her husband suffered from several maladies that were not really discussed. I don't know, it just felt after a certain while parts of the big were skipping things. I think that the book then trying to throw into the fray the biography of Judith Jones (the woman who brought the masses "Mastering the Art of French Cooking") made the book messier.

I definitely get why Child loved French cooking. However, I don't think she ever touched upon the fact that it was cooking that a lot of people in France would not have been able to afford at the time. And honestly I think that is part of the problem with this memoir. At the end of it I didn't really care for Child much. She had a narrow minded focus on things and apparently just ignored the reality of things it seemed.

Also I have to wonder about anyone thinking this was a book that would hit it big in the United States. When this was all going on, America was starting up the war in Vietnam, the Women's Rights' Movement was starting up, we had the Civil Rights Movement gaining ground too. It just felt so weird that this book came out when it did and it hit with women in America at the time that it did.

When the big eventually ends, we somehow go from the 1970s to the 1990s and we fast forward what sounds like a round of unpleasantness for Child with her husband being in a home, some of her close friends dying, and her finally closing up the home she shared with her husband in France. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
(Written after reading the first thirty pages or so.)

Every now and again I pick up a book by a chef which isn't a recipe book....and I always regret it. This time shouldn't have surprised me. I'd seen the movie (loosely based on the book) and it was merely innocuous.

It could have been made 20 pages shorter, just by taking out the exclamation marks.

I guess if I were American and she was my cooking icon maybe?

But I'm not.
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
(Written after reading the first thirty pages or so.)

Every now and again I pick up a book by a chef which isn't a recipe book....and I always regret it. This time shouldn't have surprised me. I'd seen the movie (loosely based on the book) and it was merely innocuous.

It could have been made 20 pages shorter, just by taking out the exclamation marks.

I guess if I were American and she was my cooking icon maybe?

But I'm not.
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
(Written after reading the first thirty pages or so.)

Every now and again I pick up a book by a chef which isn't a recipe book....and I always regret it. This time shouldn't have surprised me. I'd seen the movie (loosely based on the book) and it was merely innocuous.

It could have been made 20 pages shorter, just by taking out the exclamation marks.

I guess if I were American and she was my cooking icon maybe?

But I'm not.
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
A fascinating look at Julia Child's story. Not great writing, but worth the read to learn about more about such an interesting person. ( )
  addunn3 | Mar 30, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 186 (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
Child, Juliaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Prud'homme, Alexmain 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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