My Life in France by Julia Child
Age: YA – Adult
Julia Child’s transformation from wife, to internationally known chef bringing French food and life to America with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and with her hit TV show The French Chef began in 1948 during her first year of marriage to Paul Child.
The memoir traces her life from her first steps onto French soil, through her explorations of the French food markets, to her classes at Le Cordon Bleu, and finally through the path of creating and collaborating a French how-to manual for women in America. The memoir continues even after Julia Child moved back to the United States and how her passion for good food became a lifelong part of her world.
Julia Child’ voice is friendly and entertaining as she takes you through the story of her life. She is an inspirational woman, who is fully accepting of her faults as well as her virtues. Finding love late in life, standing taller than most men and women of her time, Julia found it hard to really fit in anywhere. Rebelling against her father’s conservative Republican views, she did not follow the tradition of settling down to marry a rich Republican man and becoming a simple housewife in quiet Pasadena, CA. Instead, she worked in government, traveling to India and China, where she met her artist husband to be Paul Child.
Reading the book was like sitting in a room with Julia Child herself. Her voice is endearing, full of the charm and friendliness that helped her became so loved around the world. The book is full of little jokes and quips about her experiences. Funny anecdotes accompany even the most minor of character introductions.
To be truthful, I enjoyed the first half of the memoir much more than the second half. I loved reading about Julia explorations of French food, and seeing her passion develop over time and learning about all the hard work she put into becoming one of the best chefs of her time. As the book progressed, I got a little bored as she talked about traveling and promoting the book. I preferred the sections of her experimenting with a recipe hundreds of times to perfect every single notation and instruction, or researching and talking to experts of recipes she wants to include in the book. Her troubles collaborating with Simca and Louisa on both books as well as initially introducing a book like this into the publishing world.
Also, reading this book made me feel a number of emotions: 1. constantly hungry because of her talk of good food, 2: guilty because one should not eat a McDonald’s cheeseburger while reading about Julia Child’s French recipes, 3. Excited for next Spring, when Chris and I go to France for our honeymoon. We want to sign up for a single class at Le Cordon Bleu and learn how to make, well, anything!
This is a great summer read, although you might end up overheating your homes by wanting to cook more often after finishing!The French Chef by Julia Child w/ Alex Prud’Homme Anchor Books, 2006 ISBN 9780307474858 352 pages