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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Awkward Tourist to French Cooking Fame!
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...
Published on Sept. 25 2006 by Donald Mitchell

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Like Reading a Cookbook
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...
Published 7 months ago by Rob Slaven


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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 "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: My Life in France (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. In November 1948, Paul landed a posting in Paris and Julia, the Pasadena, California bred daughter of a conservative businessman, was in for the surprises of her life. She fell in love with French food at her first meal! With no job in France, she began working on her language skills and learning how to cook (a new task for her!). Soon, she decided she wanted to go to Cordon Bleu. After some misadventures, she finally passed with some modest skills designed to help a homemaker rather than a chef. But she made friends with others who loved French food and eventually became acquainted with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. The latter two had an informal agreement to publish a book on French cooking for Americans. But they had just lost their American collaborator. Julia stepped in.

From there, much of the book recounts the decades of painstaking work that went into creating that first book and its follow-ons in which Julia played the role of making the recipes work in American kitchens with American ingredients and utensils. It's truly mind-boggling. My respect for her work is unlimited!

The book finishes with explaining how Mastering became a best seller and Julia became a television star.

Along the way, you'll meet her favorite food vendors, tutors, chefs and guests. She'll also delight you with her mouth-watering menus and how dishes turned out under different circumstances.

The title of the book is a little misleading. The material also covers time spent in Germany, Norway and the United States. You also get a full look at her marriage and the great joy that both Childs brought to their love.

Throughout, the book is filled with little Julia-isms in that humorous self-deprecating style that we all came to love on The French Chef. She lards the text with some piquant French phrases and quotes (which are usually translated more mildly into English).

As an author, I found her process of finding a publisher and working with publishers to be quite fascinating.

In her last decades, the book is a picture of grace as she devoted herself to her husband, her old friends and to French cooking.

Bon appetit!
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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 "slavenrm@gmail. com" (Zionsville, IN) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: My Life in France (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 I love this book, July 10 2014
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This review is from: My Life in France (Hardcover)
I love this book. Julia Child is a wonderful writer, completely pulls me in and makes me feel like I'm there with her.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing woman, May 28 2014
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This review is from: My Life in France (Paperback)
What a wonderful book about Julia's time in France. If you seen the movie Julie and Julia you will want to read this book. Julia Child was an amazing woman and learning more about her experiences in France was great. She is an inspiration for stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. Look what she accomplished by doing it and imagine what you could do.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Best, Dec 19 2013
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This review is from: My Life in France (Paperback)
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
This review is from: My Life in France (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
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This review is from: My Life in France (Paperback)
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
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janccd - See all my reviews
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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 (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Life in France (Paperback)
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A LIFE WELL LIVED REMEMBERED, July 1 2009
By 
Gail Cooke (TX, USA) - See all my reviews
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Rather than a complete biography this ebulliently phrased memoir covers the years Julia and her beloved husband, Paul, spent in France (1948 - 1954). Paris was where the the woman remembered as the doyenne of French cooking got a rather late start on what was to be an enormously succesful career.

Paul and Julia met in Ceylon where both worked for the Office of Strategic Services, and married in 1946. Two years later Paul was assigned to head the exhibits office of the U.S. Information Service in Paris. A painter and photographer who had been to France earlier he was well suited for the task. On the other hand, Julia had never been to Europe, came from a middle class, conservative California family and by her own description was "six-foot-two-inch, 36-year-old, rather loud and unserious." Little did she know what a life altering experience France would be.

She well remembers their first meal in Rouen which she described as "absolute perfection. It was the most exciting meal of my life." Thus began her love of French food, in fact for all things French - the markets, the people, the restaurants, the countryside. At that time she was an average cook at best but determined to learn how the French prepared such glorious food. To that end she learned the language and then enrolled at the famed Cordon Bleu. Surely no student has ever worked harder, more doggedly or found as much joy in food preparation as Julia. She wanted to know every infinitesimal detail of each dish, including the whys and wherefores of ingredients chosen, and variants in cooking time.

Eventually this devotion to French cuisine led to a partnership with two French friends (Simone Beck and Laced Bertholle) in a cooking school and from that to dreams of a cookbook for the American market. There was a very long road ahead filled with happiness, surprises and disappointments but the book was published at last. This, of course, led to Julia's television series and more cookbooks.

My Life In France is filled with rhapsodic descriptions of dishes and accompanying wines as well as details of keeping house in a country still recovering from a devastating war. Due to Paul's career the Childs moved from Paris to Marseille to Bonn to Washington to Oslo and then Paul's retirement. Julia met every challenge with pluck, purpose and bonhomie. Hers was a life well lived, thoroughly enjoyed, and vividly remembered.

- Gail Cooke
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My Life in France
My Life in France by Alex Prud'Homme (Paperback - Oct. 9 2007)
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