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My Life in France
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on 25 July 2017
Julia Child's autobiography doesn't just tell the story of a woman whose life was changed (saved, even?) by learning French cuisine. It also recounts the inspiring and challenging experience of two relatively well travelled postwar Americans adapting to the paranoia and insularism of McCarthyism and staying strong.
Julia and Paul Child worked professionally in the "cultural attaché" sector of the US ambassadorial wing, at a time when such work became doubly tainted. Whilst Paul was working to share US culture and propaganda, he was to fall under suspicion of being a spy for the Communists because of his having been posted to "the wrong" countries by earlier administrations. Meanwhile, to save herself from boredom, Julia learns to cook at the Cordon Bleu school and discovers a talent for (literally) translating the cookery of France into a book that works for the American housewife. It's a fascinating view of how the postwar 1950s and 1960s shaped US culinary history at a time when kitchen technology and the media made cookery shows and books an accessible teaching tool for the masses. On this side of the Pond, Elisabeth David and the Electricity and Gas Board Ladies were spreading a similar gospel, but Child became a mass media icon. How she did it is worth reading. Ignore the Julie/Julia hype and read the book, and you're going to have a much better understanding not only of the culinary culture in France but of what shaped the USA in the sixties. It may even shed light on some of the current régime's behaviours...
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on 11 August 2017
Although I'd seen the film which I confess was the first time I'd heard of the American version of Elizabeth David, I wasn't until recently aware that Julia Child had written her autobiography and what a revelation it is. A charming, funny, self-deprecating book of life in Paris after the Second World War that brings alive Julia Child's passion for France and food. I've since recommended it to others and they've all loved it. This deserves to be much better known and shows what an innovator she was.
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on 8 April 2014
I had been to Paris a few times many years ago. I know this will be appalling to many, but those experiences left me not loving Paris. In fact, I would have been fine with never going back. Well, last Easter, my family and my sister in laws family went on a joint trip. After many hours of discussion, Paris was the agreed destination. I had to do something about my frame of mind before the trip! This book did it for me. Julia Childs has such a love for France and Paris, I couldn't help get excited about the trip. I ended up loving our trip to Paris. I even visited the Cordon Bleu cooking school just to have a look and ended up buying an apron from them. As an American living abroad for 3 years for work and a foodie myself, I immensely enjoyed this book. Very interesting story about the Childs life. Well written and hard for me to put down. Have recommended to several of my friends.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 3 April 2010
I bought this book after watching the excellent film Julie and Julia and being delighted and intrigued by Meryl Streep's portrayal of Julia Child. I wanted to know how realistic her picture of Julia was. I am delighted to say, from this wonderful memoir written by Julia and her nephew Alex Prudhomme at the end of her long and eventful life, that it was very true to life, or her life as it is portrayed here anyway. Child was deeply, wonderfully eccentric, larger than life and absolutely passionate about everything she did, not least her cooking. Married to a diplomat she travelled the world with him and ended up falling in love with post war Paris and its wonderful cuisine. The first half of the book recounts her years in Paris and Marseille and is told with love, vibrancy, colour and passion. The second half tells of her struggle to get her cookery bookery as she calls it published, and the growth of her television career, and finally her last years in France in Provence.

Funny, eccentric, delightful and a joy to read. I was sad when it was finished.
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on 28 February 2014
I first became aware of Julia Child in the 1970s as a teenager living in thee States. My friend Charles and I would meet eat our house for a late breakfast and watch The French Chef on PBS. She was very different to the other famous TV chef of those days, Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet. Personally I couldn't stand his slick and smarmy delivery, but Julia was different; awkwardly tall with a weird accent, a bit of Lloyd Grosman perhaps! Her shows weren't that professional, she stumbled over her lines and the cooking occasionally went wrong, but her passion for cooking shone through.
It is still shining through in this book. If you're after recipes look elsewhere, but if you like reading autobiography at its best then look no further. This book gives a fascinating insight into the life of one American who realised that the world doesn't begin or end at US borders! Enjoy and Bon Appetite!!
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on 20 August 2015
A really fascinating account of the trials and tribulations of book publishing. Also to realize the great differences and attitudes of the Americans and the French way of and attitude to life.I was very envious of the wines they enjoyed for their lunch and dinner parties and the wonderful restaurants they visited, both simple and top of the range. Julia certainly had vitality determination and great stamina, ably helped by her husband with his assistance for recipes and his drawings and photographs. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
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on 3 March 2013
This is a lovely book, written with heart and care. Julia Child had a wonderful life full of travel and cookery experiences, and because the cooking part came later in her life she appreciates all the opportunities to their fullest. I really enjoyed the parts of Julia's life as she adapts to life in 1950s Paris and that is key to the interest in the book....it spans a period of huge change in the domestic lives of the housewife and the redefinitions of French and American cultures. Some of the later parts of Julia's life seem to be glossed over, as if there were less important (especially after Paul died). This seems appropriate in themselves, as never have I read of two individuals so in love. The book encompasses three types of my favour themes, life story, culinary adventure and travel journal. Worth a read just for the characters.
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on 5 March 2013
My Life In France is a biography of Julia Child, one of the key figures in bringing French cuisine to America, and one of the first TV chefs. Written jointly with Alex Prud’homme, the great-nephew of Julia Child, the story starts in Paris where Julia and her husband Paul resided. As Paul worked for the US government, Julia developed an interest in cooking, eventually studied at the famous French cooking school Le Cordon Bleu. The book takes you through the culinary successes (and occasional failures), restaurant meals eaten in Paris, and the habits of other gastronomes of Paris at that time, as well as illustrating some time spent in Provence, Germany, Norway, and of course the USA. All of these experiences well-equip Julia, and her collaborators, to begin working on a cook book, which became a classic, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Eight years of hard work went into the cookbook, and the love and devotion towards it are evident.

What struck me most about My Life in France was the relentless enthusiasm about French food, wine, and gastronomy. Exact menus of meals eaten forty years ago can be recalled, with the Chateau and vintage of the bottles of wine drunk with them. Anecdotes about pots and pans and the attention given to shopping in markets help relay such passion, that it would be hard not to become more excited about food after reading this. Another enjoyable aspect of the book is the insight given on cooking at different parts of the 20th century. From cooking with different kind of stoves, to the availability of ingredients and recipes, or just the changing of attitudes towards food and cooking, you learn a lot of cultural history through considering gastronomy. A few of the couple’s photographs are printed, which help give a better sense of their experiences. Overall, the book is well written, clear, very enjoyable to read, and so comes highly recommended.
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on 23 June 2014
The book was well written and contained a lot of funny anecdotes, but I have to admit that I was also a tad annoyed by its frivolity. A large part of the book takes place in post-WWII Europe, and Ms. Child's "culinary adventures" in France contrast sharply with the lives/ reality of millions of normal French people at the time. However, Ms. Child never seems to give this any thought whatsoever, which left a bit of a stale taste behind, at least for me...
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on 6 August 2015
I love it! Watched 'Julie and Julia' (DVD) so many enjoyable times. Reading the true story is a revelation! Still reading and am amazed how much Julia Child achieved during her lifetime. It's an honest and informative narrative and her love affair with France is plain to see. Her success on television in the 1960's must have inspired so many to cook the French way. (Have bought 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' too. Can't wait to read her wise words).
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