Friday, December 18, 2009

Review: My Life in France

Summary: Julia Child single handedly awakened America to the pleasures of good cooking with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show The French Chef, but as she reveals in this bestselling memoir, she didn't know the first thing about cooking when she landed in France. Indeed, when she first arrived in 1948 with her husband, Paul, 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. Julia's unforgettable story unfolds with the spirit so key to her success as as a cook and teacher and writer, brilliantly capturing one of the most endearing American personalities of the last fifty years. -- Anchor

My book club decided to read MY LIFE IN FRANCE by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme for our December meeting. You can read more about our discussion here. I was thrilled when the book was chosen because I had already read JULIE & JULIA and I had even seen the movie (and I never see movies) with two members of our group. I absolutely adored the movie, and I especially enjoyed the Julia Child/Meryl Streep parts. It was a natural extension that I wanted to learn more about the woman -- Julia Child.

I vaguely remember seeing Julia Child on television when I was a young girl, but I don't remember much beyond her very distinctive voice. While many households owned copies of Julia Child's cookbooks, ours was not one of them! I really knew little, if anything, about her before picking up JULIE AND JULIA. But once I saw the movie, I was definitely charmed by her vibrant, larger-than-life personality.

This book was such a treat to read! I loved it each and every page! I found the book to be very interesting, and I even liked seeing how the movie portrayed Julia versus how she appeared to me in the book. This book really had to so much to offer the senses -- from the food and wine details to the descriptions of France. In addition, it also touched my heart because it gave some insight into the relationship between Julia and her husband Paul.

I really can sum up this book by calling it a love story! But it was a love story on so many levels. Not only did Julia realize that she "belonged" in France and she really did appreciate almost everything about the country, but she also discovered that cooking and writing cookbooks was what she was destined to do. In addition, she found her true love in her husband Paul. They had a very special relationship built on mutual respect! How very fortunate Julia was to get to live out her passions each and every day.

I have to admit that I was much more interested in getting to know Julia Child that I was with all of the French recipes. I felt the same way when I read Julie and Julia! I just don't think I have "an appreciation" of French food. Most of the meat recipes sounded absolutely disgusting to me; however, the dessert and bread recipes sounded wonderful! I guess that tells you what I like to eat.

I wasn't sure how MY LIFE IN FRANCE would translate into a book club discussion, but it did. I'm not going to say that it was our best, most thought-provoking meeting of the year; however, I think we were all excited by the book and did manage to talk about the book (and the recipes) for quite awhile. There is no doubt that we all enjoyed the book, and I actually think we caught some of Julia's joie de vivre! The publisher doesn't have a reading guide, but we did find some questions here.

I'm not entirely sure you can tell how much I enjoyed this book! Needless to say, I highly recommend MY LIFE IN FRANCE! It would make a wonderful gift too!

15 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

Oh, this book is amazing in every way. I was both floating on a cloud and crying at the same time when I finished it, and it earned a spot on my top 10 books ever. I've always had such an admiration for the lady, but this just sealed the deal.

Anna said...

I really hope to read this book at some point. I grew up watching Julia Child's cooking shows, and I've always had a soft spot for her. Glad to see you enjoyed this one.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

DCMetroreader said...

Until recently I never knew much about Julia Child, but now thanks to Julie & Julia I do. This sounds like a great read (even though I doubt I would make many of the recipes either).

bermudaonion said...

Carl read this and enjoyed it. I can't wait to read it and compare Julia's experience with ours!

Gerbera Daisy Mom said...

This was a great book! I echo everyhing you said.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I agree with you about French food! Usually the more "sophisticated" the food is, the less I want to be in the same room with it!

Serena said...

I loved Julia Child as a kid. I remember all those shows and my grandmother had one of her cookbooks...my mom didn't really use a cookbook so no connection to Julia there.

I would love to read these books about her life. They sound fascinating. Do they talk about her time with the OSS?

Chris said...

I just watched Julie & Julia last night and now I really want to read this. I found Julia's part of the story much more interesting.

Amused said...

I love Julia Child and loved Julie and Julia (both the book and the movie). Now, after reading your review, I really want to read this book too!

ANovelMenagerie said...

Sounds like a Kindle purchase for me! Thanks for the recommendation.

Lisa said...

I have this and Julie & Julia waiting for me and I've been wanting to read them back to back. Now that the movie's out, I think I'll have to make a week of it.

Beth Kephart said...

when reading that many French recipes seem disgusting to you, I smiled and thought of what great shape you are in. perhaps you don't use a lot of cream in your dishes?

Beth F said...

I absolutely loved this book -- I'm sure of it as book club selection, but so worth the read.

Jen (Devourer of Books) said...

I had no interest in this book until reading a couple of reviews recently. I have the audio now, and am starting to really look forward to it.

S. Krishna said...

I really want to read this book. Thanks for the review!