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My Life in France [Paperback]

Julia Child , Alex Prud'Homme
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 9 2007
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 bestselling 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 USIS, 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 them across the globe – unfolds with the spirit so key to her success as a chef and a writer, brilliantly capturing one of the most endearing American personalities of the last fifty years.

Frequently Bought Together

My Life in France + Julia's Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking + Mastering the Art of French Cooking Boxed Set: Volumes 1 and 2
Price For All Three: CDN$ 102.29

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From Publishers Weekly

Famed chef Child, who died in 2004, recounts her life in France, beginning with her early days at the Cordon Bleu after WWII. Greenberg, an actress for radio and commercials, does a fine job capturing Child's joie de vivre and unmatched skill as a culinary animateur. We hear Child's delight and excitement when she discovers her calling as a writer and hands-on teacher of haute cuisine; her exasperation as yet another publishing house rejects her ever-growing monster of a manuscript; and her joy at its publication and acclaimed reception after more than a decade of work. Child's opinionated exuberance translates remarkably well to audio, from her initial Brahmin-like dismissal of the new medium of television (why would Americans want to waste a perfectly good evening staring into a box, she wondered?) and frustration at her diplomat husband being investigated in the McCarthy-driven 1950s to her ecstasy about roast chicken and mulish insistence on the one correct method to make French bread at home. The seamless abridgment has no jarring gaps or abrupt transitions to mar the listener's enjoyment. Potential listeners should beware, however: this is not a book to hear on an empty stomach. Bon appétit!
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Booklist

Knowing little about the country and less about its cooking, Child sailed to France with her new husband in 1948. Her first meal after debarking, a simple sauteed sole, opened to her (and to posterity) a new world. She began her French sojourn as the underemployed and ever-curious wife of a diplomatic officer, frustrated at being unable even to speak the language. Language classes led to cooking classes, then to partnering with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle in an American book contract. Child's devotees know the basics of this story, but the details reveal the gradual education of Child's palate, her anti-McCarthy politics, her intense love for her husband, and her boundless capacity for hard work. Although Child died before this memoir compiled from her papers reached completion, her grandnephew Prud'homme proves a worthy editor. In seamlessly flowing prose, the text follows Child's growth as a cook into one of the best and most influential teachers of the twentieth century. Like Child herself, this memoir is earnest but never pedantic. Her eye for the ironic, her sense of humor, and her sharp sensitivity to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and colors that surround her make lucid, lively reading. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Awkward Tourist to French Cooking Fame! Sept. 25 2006
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
My Life in France is the most entertaining memoir I've read in 2006! It's a winner.

I first met Julia Child under unusual circumstances. My consulting firm was located down the street from where she got her hair done. Every Friday night, she would be seen peering into the windows to look at our art collection. After a few weeks of this, I walked outside and invited her in to tour the work up close. She was immediately studying everything from about three inches away. She thanked me politely and charged out the door. There was no hint of the slightly tipsy person filled with laughter who hosted The French Chef. Ah . . . I felt like I had met the real woman beneath the persona.

From that meeting, I gathered that she was a woman moved more than most by curiosity. I found myself also being curious about how she learned enough about French cooking to help co-author that masterwork, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Most French people in those days would not choose working with an American as a way to produce a work about France. That would be like putting salty Virginia ham into Quiche Lorraine.

My Life in France nicely filled in all the blanks for me. The book was lovingly finished by her grand-nephew, Paul Prud'homme, after Julia's death and is filled with lovely photographs produced by Julia's husband, Paul Child.

Here's the short version of the book. Julia had been in Asia for World War II as part of the OSS and met her husband there. He was ten years older than she was and well traveled . . . especially in France. After World War II, he joined the USIS (predecessor to the USIA) which played a friendly sort of propaganda function promoting American values and ways of doing things.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Like Reading a Cookbook Dec 13 2013
By Rob Slaven TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Child's book, it should be beyond surprise, reads rather like a cookbook. The reader is dizzied with untranslated French and long lists of French foods and left wondering if the subject was that of snails or gourmet crackers or perhaps the neighbor's cat. The text is a skillful lesson in gleaning from context quickly which passages should be read in detail and which should be merely glossed over for lack of adding anything to the narrative. No matter how assiduous I might read and reread Julia's detailed dinner menu from December 5th of 1962, it is exceptionally unlikely that any impression will be left on my apparently impregnable mind.

Actual writing aside, one is left at the end with a vast respect for the life that Child led. Her experiences were varied, her energy and patience immense and yet she never seemed to succumb to the egotism so common in the accomplished. She acknowledged that her chosen topic was a complex one but she pursued it with a vigor and exactitude that made it accessible to the common housewife of the time. Unlike her predecessors she took the time to make sure that the recipes in her book were not only detailed enough to be executed by the uninitiated but also didn't include those ingredients that couldn't be obtained outside of France. Her legend as the bridge between French cooking and America seems well earned.

Overall, I'd grant the book a few stars out of five but it would be much more entertaining to someone who had more of a connection either with cooking or with French culture. It is fairly hard to dive mind-first into a book that requires so much of it to be explicitly ignored.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Dec 19 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you are a fan of Julia Child, you should read this book. It encompasses her life and is really a great love story as well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful to read about Julia in her own words June 25 2013
By cleo
Format:Paperback
Had read the biography, Dearie by Bob Spitz and a friend suggested I read this as well. Well worth reading a second book on her life. Her personality permeates her version and you do get quite a different perspective on the events of her life that complements rather than duplicates Dearie. The most striking aspect of the book that comes through is her remarkable character, a perfectionist who has the ability to immediately move on undaunted when faced with obstacles or situations that can't be overcome. She was also quite the intellectual with many interesting comments about society and politics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a great life! March 23 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Thoroughly enjoyed reading about Julia's life in France. I was transported.
I chose this book because it is her own words and feelings telling this remarkable story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book! Jan. 6 2013
By janccd TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this book and could feel the joy of good food and life that Julia Child lived with. She was truly an extraordinary person!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Such a lovely, lively memoir! June 22 2012
By G. Larouche TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I first got interested in this book after watching "Julie & Julia". While I did not especially care for Julie Powell's story, I was fascinated with the narrative that detailed Mrs. Child's life, and love of food. I am also madly in love with France and with cooking, so reading this charming memoir made me feel like I had made friends with a kindred spirit, and a formidable woman. And I do love formidable women!

The book covers Julia Child's life in Paris with her husband, her discovery of traditional French cooking, the writing of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" volumes 1 and 2, and of course, how she got started on television with "The French Chef". While I hardly ever use her actual cookbooks (her stuff if often too time-consuming to whip up for my hectic schedule), her pivotal role in bringing fine cuisine in everyone's kitchen is immeasurable. This passionate, opinionated and salt-of-the-earth woman stopped at nothing to share her love of good food with everyone, and watching her go through the experience and jump the hurdles is a great ride.

The narrative is light, informal and friendly. You immediately feel as if she is casually telling you her story around a meal and a glass of wine. The lovely, intimate snapshots (often her husband's work) make the book even lovelier. A charming, light read for food aficionados and francophiles!
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Book was in fine condition except for missing pages
The book was missing about 20 pages, and had another section printed twice. Since it was a used book and priced so cheaply, I don't feel like I can ask for a refund or an exchange. Read more
Published on Dec 31 2011 by Amy E. Clendenin
5.0 out of 5 stars Will make you want to move to France and become a master-cook.
I've always loved Julia Child, and in fact I was named after her by parents who adored her just as much. This book completely revolutionized how I perceived her... Read more
Published on Dec 2 2011 by Julia Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming story of Julia Child's love affair with cooking while living...
I bought this book after seeing the movie Julie and Julia while visiting friends in Florida. I was glad to find out that one can also purchase it through amazon. Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2011 by Cynthia Danute Cekauskas, LCSW
5.0 out of 5 stars Julie Child - My Life in France
I really enjoyed this book. It was wonderful to share in her life and the many adventures. It has inspired me to read "Mastering the Art of French Cooking' which I had previously... Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2010 by Ann Clayton-Gorton
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational reading
Julia Child recalls her life in Paris and Marseille and her return to the U.S. She also tells us about the publishing of the two Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Read more
Published on March 13 2010 by Elaine M.
5.0 out of 5 stars My Life In France
I loved the uplifting sense of adventure that Julia was able to impart to her chronicle about living and learning across Europe. Read more
Published on March 2 2010 by Sherry Caldwell
5.0 out of 5 stars My Life in France
After watching the movie, I had to read the book. I found the book entertaining. She was an amazing woman and had a zest for life and a passion for cooking.
Published on Jan. 12 2010 by Gayleen
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