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My Life in France Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 4, 2006

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Editorial Reviews Review

Book Description

Julia Child single handedly awakened America to the pleasures of good cooking 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 didn't know the first thing about cooking when she landed in France.

Indeed, when she first arrived in 1948 with her husband, Paul, 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. Julia's unforgettable story unfolds with the spirit so key to her success as a cook and teacher and writer, brilliantly capturing one of the most endearing American personalities of the last fifty years.

Julie & Julia is now a major motion picture (releasing in August 2009) starring Meryl Streep as Julia Child. It is partially based on her memoir, My Life in France. Enjoy these images from the film, and click the thumbnails to see larger images.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. With Julia Child's death in 2004 at age 91, her grandnephew Prud'homme (The Cell Game) completed this playful memoir of the famous chef's first, formative sojourn in France with her new husband, Paul Child, in 1949. The couple met during WWII in Ceylon, working for the OSS, and soon after moved to Paris, where Paul worked for the U.S. Information Service. Child describes herself as a "rather loud and unserious Californian," 36, six-foot-two and without a word of French, while Paul was 10 years older, an urbane, well-traveled Bostonian. Startled to find the French amenable and the food delicious, Child enrolled at the Cordon Bleu and toiled with increasing zeal under the rigorous tutelage of éminence grise Chef Bugnard. "Jackdaw Julie," as Paul called her, collected every manner of culinary tool and perfected the recipes in her little kitchen on rue de l'Université ("Roo de Loo"). She went on to start an informal school with sister gourmandes Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, who were already at work on a French cookbook for American readers, although it took Child's know-how to transform the tome—after nine years, many title changes and three publishers—into the bestselling Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961). This is a valuable record of gorgeous meals in bygone Parisian restaurants, and the secret arts of a culinary genius. Photos. First serial in the New York Times Magazine and Bon Appétit. (Apr.)
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (April 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400043468
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400043460
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (582 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

501 of 519 people found the following review helpful By Jesse Kornbluth TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Most Americans know of Julia Child via the parodies of her cooking show --- a frowsy, big-boned matron with a trill in her voice, hacking up a chicken with more zest than is called for, most likely because she's been chugging the cooking sherry. Well, that was, on occasion, a fair take on Julia Child, the jolly chef who taught her fellow citizens the joy of French cooking on public television.

But Julia Child was much more than a 6'2", 158-pound precursor of Martha Stewart. She was a revolutionary. Not intentionally. She just had the great good fortune to find herself living in Paris with no job and nothing more compelling than a tentative interest in cooking. She signed up for classes at Cordon Bleu, got hooked, and soon found herself, with two friends, working on a book we now take for granted but was then unimagined --- an authoritative guide to French cooking for Americans. Published 40 years ago, 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One' has never gone out of print. It never will. It is the gold standard.

Julia Child died in 2004. Of her 11 books, none was a memoir. But she kept scribbles and letters, and at the end of her life, she began to shape this book with her grandnephew. Like almost everything she touched, 'My Life in France' is a triumph --- insightful, poetic, deadly accurate about people, and, above all, tasty. To read it is to breathe French air.

Nothing in her early life would have predicted that Julia Child would become formidable in any way. Her father was a conservative Southern California businessman; her mother was "warm and social." After college came World War II and government work in Ceylon. There she met Paul Child, an artist who designed 'war rooms' for the generals.
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195 of 205 people found the following review helpful By Joanne Jerrell on April 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With every word I sensed I was there. I could smell the air, feel the cold and want a blanket. I lusted to be able to taste the foods she talked about. I laughed when she described her first attempts at food preparation. I loved that she was pragmatic and yet extravagant about cooking utinsels. Her husband was very encouraging of her endeavors. Together they shared a life and a love, but it was more, they shared a passion for travel and the tastes of other cultures. My mouth salivated as she toured the markets. Her French was horrible by her own admission but her genuine interest in the culture won out with shop owners. It is a delicious read.
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230 of 245 people found the following review helpful By H. Labalme on April 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This, hands down, is one of the best reads of the year. We took it with us on vacation last month & my wife and I competed over reading rights whenever the kids were otherwise occupied. It's beautifully told and as compelling as a great mystery that you know has a happy ending. It will remind you of your honeymoon in France (even if you went somewhere else) and inspire you to go again. And when you finish, you'll want to find a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and keep going....
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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful By JL on April 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As a young person growing up in the Boston area, I watched Julia Child on WGBH. I will never forget her Salade Nicoise show where the lettuce ended up on the floor instead of the colander. This is why we loved Julia Child - she was real and fun and didn't take things too seriously. This comes through in My Life In France although sometimes it's a little too engrossed in the mundane details. It's an excellent read in her inimitable voice of her discovery and love of food and the trials and tribulations of writing Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her curiousity, commitment to detail, perservence, and natural talent for communicating made Master the Art of French Cooking rock the food world when no one thought such a cookbook would sell. I loved reading about Julia's triumph.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In her memoir, we discover that Julia Child was not born with a wooden spoon in her hand; her early cooking experiences were sometimes less than delectable. Her adventures, culinary and otherwise, are chronicled in amazing detail and much charm, written with Alex Prud'homme, Paul Child's grandnephew.

The book opens with an introductory first sentence from Julia that speaks for itself:

"This is a book about some of the things I have loved most in life: my husband, Paul Child; la belle France; and the many pleasures of cooking and eating."

The story begins as Paul and Julia move to Paris after two years in Washington, D.C. Thirty-six-year-old Julia has mixed feelings about the move. She fears that the quiet, stylish, mannerly, and tiny French would be aghast at a six-foot-two-inch "rather loud and unserious Californian." However, almost instantly Julia is enamored of France and its people. She delights in her first French meal, sheepishly telling her husband she doesn't know what a shallot is. The description of that first meal, and the many following, is as loving as if she were describing her firstborn.

Julia begins to cook a bit, helped by French friends who show her the best places to shop and introduce her to new foods such as snails and truffles. As her food consciousness rises, her ability to speak French also improves. Her next step is to sign up for a year-long course at the famed cooking school, Cordon Bleu, where she discovers a true passion for French cooking (she calls it her "personal calling"). She also realizes she has much to learn --- she can't even scramble eggs properly. Indeed, even as she grows more knowledgeable, she continues making cooking errors, resulting in bizarre dishes.
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