My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme
2006 Anchor Books
Finished on July 22, 2018
Rating: 3/5 (Good)
The bestselling story of Julia's years in France--and the basis for Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams--in her own words.
Julia Child singlehandedly created a new approach to American cuisine with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show The French Chef, but as she reveals in this best-selling memoir, she was not always a master chef.
Indeed, when she first arrived in France in 1948 with her husband, Paul, who was to work for the U.S. Information Service, she spoke no French and knew nothing about the country itself. But as she dove into French culture, buying food at local markets and taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, her life changed forever with her newfound passion for cooking and teaching. Julia's unforgettable story--struggles with the head of the Cordon Bleu, rejections from publishers to whom she sent her now-famous cookbook, a wonderful, nearly fifty-year long marriage that took the Childs across the globe--unfolds with the spirit so key to Julia's success as a chef and a writer, brilliantly capturing one of America's most endearing personalities of the last fifty years.
I've had this book on my shelf for several years (probably since I first saw the movie Julie & Julia) and finally got around to reading it for the Nonfiction November challenge. I don't know if it's because I recently watched the movie for the second time or if Child's abrupt writing style (with a lack of segues between anecdotes) spoiled the read, but I didn't become fully engaged in the book until the details about writing Mastering the Art of French Cooking appeared. At that point, I was hooked and very interested!
Life at La Peetch:
After moving around the world for so long, I was able to work in most places, but nowhere was I more productive than in our little kitchen at La Peetch. From mid-December 1966 through mid-June 1967, Paul and I holed ourselves up there, far from the noise and distraction of the U.S.A. Bumping up the rutted driveway, we were struck, once again, by what Paul termed "the Reverse Hornet-Sting" of the place--the shockingly fresh and inspirational jolt we got from our lovely hideaway. It was the cool, early-morning layers of fog in the valleys; Esterel's volcanic mountains jutting up out of the glittering sea; the warming Provencal sun and bright-blue sky; the odor of earth and cow dung and burning grapevine prunings; the colorful violets and irises and mimosas; the olives blackening; the sound of little owls talking back and forth; the sea-bottom taste of Belon oysters; the noisy fun of the marketplace; the deeply quiet, sparkling nights with a crescent moon hanging overhead like a lamp. What a place! The very opposite of a hornet's sting, indeed.I plan to read the other two books I own about Julia (As Always, Julia edited by Joan Reardon and Dearie by Bob Spitz), but My Life in France is not one I'll read again.