Child, Julia. My Life in France. New York: Anchor Books, 2006.
Julia and her great-grandnephew Alex Prud'homme set out to write the tale of Julia's life in France. The books follows the chronology of the 1950s when Julia and her husband Paul lived in France, and it continues into the 1970s. The reader sees what obstacles Julia faced and how she overcame them to learn how to perfect French cookery.
My grandmother used to watch Julia's cooking show on television, and I've seen her parodied many times, but THIS book taught me about the love a woman can have. Julia loved her husband, loved France, and loved to cook. I can relate to these three things.
I want to return to France and see this country as Julia saw it. I have always been fascinated by the French (even though many people I know, including my husband, "hate the French"). When I was there in 2001, I just didn't know enough. I got a small sample of French life, so as I read this book, like Julia with her cooking, I read with a focus on the details. I could picture the rented apartments that Julia and Paul shared. I walked the streets of Paris and Marseille with Julia looking for a great meal, or fresh vegetable or another kitchen gadget. I felt her frustration when trying to write the cookbook for Americans. I didn't realize how much thought, experimentation and negotiation went into creating The Book. It took Julia and Simca over eight years to write it.
I loved the infusion of French to the story. I found myself reading out loud just to keep up the practice of speaking French and to hear the language. I was refreshed with sayings that I'd forgotten. I wondered as I read if non French speakers would understand (even though most of the bigger sentences were translated).
The four hundred pages were worth my time, and I loved learning about this iconic chef. The last piece of advice that Julia gives the reader is this: "Learn how to cook--try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!" (Child 407). Thanks, Julia. I will.