juliachild

On Our Bookshelves:
My Life in France

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BOOK: My Life in France

AUTHOR: Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2006

REVIEW:

Some years back, one of my neighbors read My Life in France, in preparation for a trip she was taking to Paris. She thought I’d like the book and so lent me her paperback. I liked it so much that after I returned her copy, I bought myself one, in hardcover, and put it on the shelf in my kitchen with my cookbooks, where it remains to this day…although I take it out and read a chapter at a time once in a while, if I’m feeling blue.

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This is such a joyous book! Written largely by Julia Child, with assistance from her grand-nephew Alex Prud’homme, and published after her death, it’s a celebration of, yes, the art of French cooking, but just as much as it is about food, it is about life. And her life was an amazing one.

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It’s less a straightforward memoir than a meandering account of Julia Child falling in love: with her husband, with Paris, with French cuisine, with cooking, with sharing what she’d learned, with writing an amazingly influential cookbook, and with feeding her friends and family at her home.

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It’s hard not to be charmed by her warmth and enthusiasm. It’s hard not to be hungry while reading it. And it’s great inspiration for following your own life path and seizing opportunities to live well. It ends with a recollection of a meal she describes as an epiphany, on her very first day in France:

“In all the years since that succulent meal, I have yet to lose the feelings of wonder and excitement that it inspired in me. I can still almost taste it. And thinking back on it now reminds me that the pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite—toujours bon appetit!”

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My Life in France was adapted into half of the 2009 movie Julie & Julia (the better half, in my opinion, with Meryl Streep in the title role), which is a sweet and enjoyable film. But do read the book as well—it’s something special.

RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 4 Whistles

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HOW TO PURCHASE: Amazon

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ALSO ON OUR BOOKSHELVES:

A Patchwork Planet, Anne Tyler

A Room With a View, E.M. Forster

An Infamous Army, Georgette Heyer

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Bleak House, Charles Dickens

Blue Highways, William Least Heat-Moon

Bonjour Tristesse, Francoise Sagan

Bunker Hill, Nathan Philbrick

Burmese Days, George Orwell

Cannery Row, John Steinbeck

Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

Cockpit Confidential, Patrick Smith

Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons

Envious Casca, Georgette Heyer

Foreign Affairs, Alison Lurie

Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers

Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee

Heads in Beds, Jacob Tomsky

I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

Longbourn, Jo Baker

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson

Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

One Summer: America 1927, Bill Bryson

Plotted: A Literary Atlas, Andrew DeGraff

Possession, A.S. Byatt

Ringworld, Larry Niven

Rose Madder, Stephen King

The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Ed., Lewis Carroll & Martin Gardner (with original illustrations by John Tenniel)

The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith

The Dancer of Izu, Kawabata Yasunari

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., Adelle Waldman

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, Oliver Sacks

The Martian, Andy Weir

The Monogram Murders, Sophie Hannah

The Mother & Child Project, Hope Through Healing Hands (ed.)

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark

The Tender Bar, J.R. Moehringer

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce

The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories, Saki

The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin

What If?, Randall Munroe

Up At the Villa, W. Somerset Maugham

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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com

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Book Jacket Image Courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf