My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme
Synopsis (from the back cover): From the moment the ship docked in Le Havre, en route to Paris, 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 Cordon Bleu.
Review: My book club chose this memoir, I dutifully requested it from the library, and — a full year later — it arrived! So, while I could not join in with the discussion at the time, this was thoroughly worth the wait. And a lovely treat as an audio book!
I read Julie and Julia when it first came out and didn’t really care for Julie. I found her whiny and rather foul much of the time. But I decided to see the film when it was released and just LOVED the parts about Julia Child, who I knew very little about. I was afraid my affection for Julia was a result of Meryl Streep’s inimitable talent, but I actually enjoyed My Life in France even more than the film!
Julia Child has a natural voice and her irrepressible spirit jumps off every page. As I stated, I knew very, very little about her, and found her independent, particular, irrepressible spirit so engaging and inspiring. Her love of France was palpable, of course, but her determination and fortitude were even more present.
Much of this memoir is a romance — to Paul, to France, to food, to quality. I loved how much of her success came later in life, too. She met and married her husband in her thirties and did not publish The Mastery of French Cooking until her forties. Her fame really did not descend until after that, too. I loved her marriage to Paul — and even enjoyed the passages devoted to describing how to bake French bread (using an asbestos tile — oops!) and dismember a duck. And I’ve been a vegetarian for 23 years! Most of the book is lovely narrative, so if you have not yet read this, do not fear that you will be slogging through recipes or deciphering French phrases. Not at all! I would recommend this memoir as a lovely companion on a long car ride. You will finish the drive having made a new friend!