Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review: "My Life In France"

"My Life In France" by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme
Originally published in 2006
My rating: 5 out of 5
Image source

I absolutely adored every page of Julia Child's memoir, "My Life In France." The book starts in 1948 when Julia and her husband Paul move to la belle France for his job with the USIS and focuses especially on their time in Paris, but also follows them as they move to Marseille, Germany, Norway and finally back to the U.S. We're with Julia as she discovers and cultivates her love of food, meets all kinds of interesting characters and friends, pens cookbooks, and enventually shares her passion through her PBS TV show, "The French Chef."

In the introduction, Julia writes: "This is a book about some of the things I have loved most in my life: my husband, Paul Child; la belle France; and the many pleasures of cooking and eating." These three things are exactly what the book is about, and can you imagine much better reading than a book about love, Paris and delicious food?

Julia's descriptions of scenery, shops, people and food are magical. The tone of the book is very conversational and I felt like I really got to know Julia through her words. Phrases like "cookery-bookery" (cook-book writing) and "manuscripple" (cookbook draft) appear often in the book and lend it an honest, light-hearted, personal feeling.

Rather than continue to gush about how much I enjoyed "My Life In France," I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Of course, I made many boo-boos. At first this broke my heart, but then I came to understand that learning how to fix one's mistakes, or live with them, was an important part of becoming a cook. I was beginning to feel la cusine bourgeoise in my hands, my stomach, my soul."

On relaxing at their vacation house in Provence, La Pitchoune: "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."

"...our viewers would learn far more if we let things happen as they tend to do in real life -- with the chocolate mousse refusing to unstick from it's mold, or the apple charlotte collapsing. One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed."

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook -- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!"  


  1. I can't wait to read it. It sounds like a fun book to read and especially since I enjoy reading about places in France. Plus I loved the movie Julie and Julia.

  2. Hi, just found you through WIWW. I noticed your header had this book, which is one of my favorites. They are such a great couple. While the story is about many things, it's really about a good marriage. Plus, I love that she was my age now when she was just starting in her cooking career.


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