5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A good read for "foodies" and Francophiles,
This review is from: My Life in France (Paperback)
Like some other reviewers, I picked this up having seen the very enjoyable film "Julie and Julia" as I wanted to know more about this extraordinary woman, Julia Child - more familiar to Americans than to us Brits. If British cookery has a bad reputation internationally, I think it fair to say that American cuisine suffers similarly (home of the Big Mac, Burger King and KFC!) so I wanted to find out how a cookbook with such a challenging name (Mastering the Art of French Cooking) became such a best-seller. The answer, of course, is the personality and enthusiasm of Julia Child which clearly won many admirers through her TV series, decades before Nigella!
The book itself is fascinating - particularly the early years spent in France where Julia suffers a good kind of culture shock when they eat their first meal in Rouen en route to Paris. I remember a similar incident in the same part of France where we were so bowled over by the quality of the food in an "average" restaurant that I will never forget it. That meal changed Julia's life - and the lives of thousands of others through her work.
Julia comes across as a strong-willed, energetic, perhaps even difficult person as she hints at differences of opinion with her collaborators. But perhaps it needs that sort of force of personality to succeed in a venture like that. Nevertheless, you cannot help but be swept along by her enthusiasm for France and its cuisine.
I have to say though that towards the end my interest started to flag somewhat. As with many "celebrity" memoirs, the early years (those formative years) of striving and struggle tend to be so much more interesting than the accounts of episodes following the achievement of success. More books, more TV programmes, and the desire to live quietly away from fans after all the years of being desperate for success. Such irony.
I recommend this to all those who are passionate about France and French cuisine. Less "foodie" types may find it somewhat wearing and tedious after a while. There is certainly a feel in places that the chapters are based on diary entries of meals eaten, places visited, and friends who shared those experiences.