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My Life in France (2004)

by Julia Child, Alex Prud'homme

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4,5581911,835 (4.15)274
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)
Recently added byLibroLindsay, private library, ednasilrak, ChadWS, pamirick, mtdock, wordsgroup, Jimbookbuff1963
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Showing 1-5 of 189 (next | show all)
Child's memoir started out well enough. In fact, I was quite enthralled through at least the first third of the book. She has this remarkable enthusiasm and drive and good humor that I fell in love with everything she did. I wanted to be her best friend. I had fun realizing I remember more French than I thought I did, and I gained a newfound interest in Paris. I might never have gotten around to reading this book had I not agreed to lead the library's book group this October--not because I am disinterested in Child, but apart from only a couple dining experiences and vague memories of seeing her show on TV as a child, I never had much of an interest in French cuisine. And with the beginning of the book, I was off to a roaring start!
However, as it progressed, I began to lose my motivation for the book. Had I not been assigned to the book club, I would have put it down to pick up at a later time. It wasn't because it turned bad; it's just nothing happened that was a surprise. I didn't know much about Child before reading this, but I knew the basics--lived in France, began cooking, got published, got a show. And that's pretty much it. There wasn't really any suspense. She also seemed to get a little snippy as time went on, which sort of rubbed me to wrong way. Reading about food was fun at first, but that got a little boring after awhile. I thought I would get more motivation to start cooking more often myself, and I liked her message of "anyone can cook--one just needs the desire and willingness to put in the time." I agree, but I began to develop an inferiority complex about my ability to cook as I work 52-60 hours a week and find it hard to imagine how I could fit the time required to make a fabulous dish (for a single girl, to boot) among all of my additional responsibilities.
C'est la vie. So overall, I'm glad I read it--I feel much more informed on French life, the cooking process, the world of written and televised media, and of course the force of nature that was Julia Child, but I'm ready for a more rollicking adventure. ( )
  LibroLindsay | Jun 18, 2021 |
A very rose-coloured glasses look on life - through diplomatic postings and local culinary dishes - in post-WII Western Europe and the US.

I can't tell if Child truly was that open and optimistic or if she really had such a charmed life. Upper middle class upbringing, diplomatic posts around Europe, with all the networking that comes with it, making connections that would eventually come in handy for her culinary aspirations. Arguably the most important connection she ever made was with her super-supportive and super-handy husband Paul: what a gorgeous partnership.

With its easygoing prose and the laissez-faire attitude of Child (except when she's writing her famed cooking bible - which was conceived by two other friends who seemed to have paled into the background after Child joined the project -, then she's an eagle-eyed dictator/businesswoman), this was very much a fairytale recount of her rise to culinary heights. And just like all the dishes described, the book itself was a delight and leaves one hungry for more.

I would love to read more about just Julia and Paul's marriage, and in particular about Paul's role. There's something about famous couplings where more often than not, one is famous for their work, and the other is famous for being the muse/support. It fascinates me, especially when it's a man who is in the muse/support role (looking at you Leonard Woolf). I also just want a photobook of Paul's works, the ones in this book were gorgeously composed. ( )
  kitzyl | May 25, 2021 |
My Life in France is a memoir of France and the joys of cooking by the great Julia Child, assisted by her great-nephew, Alex Prud'homme. Through her eyes we dine at restaurants in Paris, Marseille, and Provence, learn to cook at the Cordon Bleu, and become an American celebrity after the publication of her best-selling cookbooks and the success of her TV show. She was also devoted to her husband, Paul Child, a career diplomat, and he to her; they seem to have had the happiest of marriages.

This is the second time I've read this memoir, and I loved it all over again. I watched a few episodes of her TV show The French Chef part way through reading it in order to get her sonorous voice into my head, and to revel again in her sense of fun, her love of food, her good humour, her height. (Child was 6'2".) Viewing made reading more fun as the joie de vivre present in her book I could now hear in her voice. I think I would have liked Julia Child very much, which is one of the marks of successes of a memoir, I think. You see things through the author's eyes, and approve her actions and thoughts.

Anyone who loves good food whether cooked in a restaurant or at home, any Francophile, anyone who enjoys an honest, quirky, and gently comic memoir will love this book. I did. Twice. There will be a third time, and maybe a fourth. ( )
  ahef1963 | Dec 13, 2020 |
Warning! Read this book at your own risk. My Life in France* will make you fat.

Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme have written a wonderful memoir of Julia Child's journey to learn how to be The French Chef. Every page in this book focused on food; what she was eating, what she was cooking, and what she was serving. Read more ( )
  skrabut | Sep 2, 2020 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 189 (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.
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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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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.

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