Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Life in France, by Julia Child

My Life in France
by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme, 2006, 352 pages

My Life in France follows Julia Child from 1948 to 1985 as she transforms from amateur cook to student at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris to author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking to world renowned TV personality. Told chronologically, the book touches on Julia's adventures with food as well as other important events in her life during that time.

I really enjoyed reading along as Julia's cooking developed, and was amazed by her thoroughness in learning to cook and, later, in testing recipes for her cook books. The book is written from Julia's voice, which is very entertaining. It contains amusing anecdotes about her life in France (see my Teaser Tuesday post for an example) along with mouth-watering descriptions of French food.

In addition to the cooking, it was intriguing to read about what life was like in Paris in the 1950s, and how the Cold War was treated in France. The book touches on the Marshall Plan, McCarthyism, and the foreign service (Julia's husband Paul the was a member of the foreign service). I liked reading about the differences between Europe and America during that time - I didn't realize just how big a role these differences played in preparing a French cookbook for the American kitchen.

The book also includes pictures that Paul took during their time in France scattered throughout the book, and I really enjoyed seeing pictures of the people mentioned - it made it seem more real to me. I couldn't always keep track of all the people Julia came in contact with over 352 pages, but it didn't matter all that much and the important ones (such as Chef Bugnard, her teacher at the Cordon Bleu, or Simone Beck, her collaborator for Mastering the Art of French Cooking) were easy to pick out.

I only have one complaint:  I wish they would have included just a few of the recipes that were described throughout the book! I know that's not the point of this book, but even so, I may have to go borrow a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking from the library for curiosity's sake.

I'm not sure if this book is for everyone, but if you have an interest in reading about food/cooking or are interested in the subject matter, I think you'll enjoy this book. I knew I had to buy the book when I looked at the first page on amazon and could hear Julia Child's voice coming through the pages. I flew through the book, reading most of it over the weekend, and it kept me constantly entertained. Definitely a worthwhile and interesting read.


  1. I think I'd really like this book; I like reading about food and I like reading about France. Sounds perfect! :-)

  2. I think it's a book I'll enjoy as well, as I love food, and am trying to learn how to cook this year! Not sure if you've seen the show, but I love watching America's Test Kitchen, because they explain why they cook the way they do (easy to understand scientific explanations) and they have tried many recipes to perfect the dish. In fact, I'd just ordered The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook and thought I'd start there! :) Last year I started making ice-cream after getting an ice-cream machine as a gift, and The Perfect Scoop is the perfect book for it if it is something you want to try :)

  3. Glad to see you liked this one. I grew up watching and loving Julia Child, so I'm adding this to my to-read (some day) list. I gave up a quarter of the way through Julie & Julia, and I have a feeling if I want a Julia Child fix, this is the way to go!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  4. This was one of my favorite reads from last year. I loved the portrait of post-war France and the relationship between Julia and Paul. It's one of those books I loved immediately upon starting it.

  5. Just saw the film Julie and Julia and loved it though I wish it had just been about Julia Child rather than the Julie character who I later found out isn't actually a very pleasant person in real life. I was intrigued by this book you reviewed above. I was wondering whether it would be a good read and you do make it sound like it'd be something I'd enjoy.
    Just noticed your a new book blogger. Welcome to the world of book blogging!