Back to Books: My Life in France

My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme.
Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2006
Rating:
5/5 spoonfuls of butter

my life in france

At five-forty-five in the morning, Paul and I rousted ourselves from our warm bunk and peered out of the small porthole in our cabin aboard the SS America… It was Wednesday, November 3, 1948, and we had finally arrived in Le Havre, France.

The first time I heard of Julia Child was when I watched the movie Julie & Julia (one of the late Nora Ephron’s many pieces of art). I immediately fell in love with the idea of cooking you’re way through an entire cookbook, no matter how overwhelming the recipes seem.

Yesterday, I finished reading Julia Child’s My Life in France. It’s so interesting to follow her on her journey of moving to France, learning the language, and discovering her love and passion for cooking, especially French cooking. I really loved this book and highly recommend it for anyone who loves cooking or likes to read a good (auto)biography. Mostly because it is a perfect example of discovering your true passion in life no matter what stage of life you find yourself in, and because it echos my belief that all great dishes take time, effort, and love to make (seriously, time seems to cease to exist while I’m in the kitchen).

By no means is it a strict linear account of her time in France (Germany and Norway), but rather a collection of vividly told memories and accounts of her adventures. The book is written by Child’s grandnephew Alex Prud’homme (but in Julia’s voice) and I can just imagine how fascinating it must have been to sit with her to capture her experiences and her journey to what we know her as today – the pioneer of bringing French cooking to America as well as engaging television cooking shows.

Prud’homme did a wonderful job of retelling the memories she shared with him and really captured who she was, the relationship with her family (a little strained since she didn’t follow the Republican footsteps of her father), her relationship with her husband, Paul, the trials of moving around a lot and getting accustomed to a new culture, and – of course – learning to cook, and the hard work that goes into writing a cookbook, especially with a coauthor.

What I enjoy the most is the way the memories are told, in Julia’s voice that shows her personality. It is easy to imagine everything she is describing and to feel the emotion in each experience and leaves a slightly different impression (a more realistic one at that) of Julia Child than the movie, because in the movie the version of Julia Child we see is the one the main character, Julie Powell, imagined her to be.

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