From the moment the ship docked in Le Havre in the fall of 1948 and Julia watched the well-muscled stevedores unloading the cargo to the first perfectly soigne meal that she and her husband, Paul, savored in Rouen en route to Paris, where he was to work for the USIS, Julia had an awakening that changed her life. Soon this tall, outspoken gal from Pasadena, California, who didn't speak a word of French and knew nothing about the country, was steeped in the language, chatting with purveyors in the local markets, and enrolled in the Cordon Bleu.
After managing to get her degree despite the machinations of the disagreeable directrice of the school, Julia started teaching cooking classes herself, then teamed up with two fellow gourmettes, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, to help them with a book they were trying to write on French cooking for Americans. Throwing herself heart and soul into making it a unique and thorough teaching book, only to suffer several rounds of painful rejection, is part of the behind-the-scenes drama that Julia reveals with her inimitable gusto and disarming honesty.
This memoir is laced with wonderful stories about the French character, particularly in the world of food, and the way of life that Julia embraced so wholeheartedly. Above all, she reveals the kind of spirit and determination, the sheer love of cooking, and the drive to share that with her fellow Americans that made her the extraordinary success she became.
Le voici. Et bon appetit!
©2006 Alex Prud'Homme; (P)2006 Books on Tape
"This is a valuable record of gorgeous meals in bygone Parisian restaurants, and the secret arts of a culinary genius." (Publishers Weekly)
No plot spoilers please!
I listened to this book on a trip through Avignon and Paris and it was wonderful. What an addition to our travels by TGV south from Paris. The reader was a delight and more than up to the challenges of the french language and all the culinary terms. Julia's take on the world a breath of fresh air. I was sorry when the book came to and end. However, to compensate I have pulled out my dog-eared copies of "mastering the art" and jumped back into cooking a la Julia! Brava Audible!
I almost didn't buy this unabridged version of My LIfe in France because of all the negative comments in the reviews about the the narrator's horrible French pronunciation - said to be too distracting. Well that is just foolishness and perhaps down right snobbishness as well - Ms. Farr does a serviceable job with the French pronunciation and it's certainly not distracting. The book so far is an absolute delight and I highly recommend it. Ms. Greenberg who narrates the Abridged version sounds very good as well and may indeed do better with the French but I did not want to miss a word of Julia's fascinating and wonderful life story. Enjoy!
A published novelist and technical writer, who lives in Northern California with a cranky but loveable parrot and lots of books.
This audiobook was a wonderful escape from my dreary December into the bright, lively world of post-war France.
Julia Child writes with vivid and loving detail of her years in Paris and Marseilles with her beloved husband, chronicling her education as a cook, her friendships, the writing of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," and her many adventures in the shops, markets, and kitchens of Paris. Delightful!
OK, the reader's French isn't perfect, but if you know some French you can tell what she's aiming for and if you don't ... well then who cares! More importantly, she pulls everything else off with a beautiful, lively performance.
The book conveys a nice sense of Julia Childs' personality, her experience learning to cook in a country she's crazy about, and some sense of the zeitgeist during the late forties and fifties.
This book is as charming as Julia herself. Her voice comes through clearly, and although she was never unkind, she did not shy away from expressing her frustrations with certain people and situations in her life. It's an account of how her interest in food and cooking developed, and how she came to take the path she took. She and Paul saved letters, so the book is rich with authentic detail about the events of their lives. My only regret is that now that I've finished it, I can never come to it again to listen for the first time. It made me feel much closer to a woman I've never met, but miss terribly.
Julia Child has always been a paragon of culinary talent, and those of us who bought her first volumes learned quickly that there was a great chasm between reading one of her recipes and turning it into the great creations she made so effortlessly. It was easy to suspect that there was some ingredient missing, and this book finally identifies it: Julia herself. In the telling of her life story, she describes those missing ingredients: an insatiable curiosity and continuing desire to learn, her incredible capacity for hard work, her ability to make friends on all levels, and the close partnership she enjoyed with her husband.
Despite her many years on television, Julia Child was always a private person; in this book, knowing clearly it would be her last, she finally speaks -- often with great candor -- of the close relationships that shaped her life: her husband, her father, her sister, her colleagues Simone Beck and James Beard, and her many friends. The insights she provides into a life in the foreign service are fascinating. Her recounting of the writing of her first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking makes one appreciate far better the monumental result. Her many years on television are described with humor and modesty.
The writing is generally well-done -- the book skips around a bit at times and feels a bit unbalanced considering the scope. The narrator works hard to speak very clearly and to speak French with a fine accent -- she succeeds but at the same time keeps you always aware that she is working hard to do so. But these are only minor problems. For what the volume accomplishes, it deserves high points, for it provides an insight into the humanity of someone who for many of us has been a legend in her own lifetime. Merci!
I am not a cook. Julia wouldn't approve of anything culinary in my life and home. Yet I whole heartedly approve of this book and feel previledged to have through this book met Julia Child. The story seemed slow at first but slowly I was hooked and very touched by her authenticity and life.
...as mentioned in other reviews, and I almost feel sorry for the narrator, she is not a French speaker, but tries. I cringed most at ca y'est pronounced as "ca y'esT". Yikes. It's still worth it, though. And other than the French, she's actually quite pleasant. The story is second to none if you love Julia Child. I'm grateful she lived long enough to finish the project. It's a gem.
I was really hoping the other reviewers were being hypercritical... alas, this is not the case, and I am truly flummoxed as to why a book by and about a woman who loved the French culture, language and experience so much was assigned such a narrator. To be fair, although the narrator wisely does not attempt to impersonate Julia's iconic trill, she brings a lot of warmth and personality to Julia's words (in English). She gives the French accent a good go, but hardly with a professional's required attention to detail in handling such beloved material. It is indeed jarring, detracting and disappointing to anyone with even a rudimentary experience of the French language.
A wonderful book, however, and aside from the most cringing mangling of the language of Moliere, enjoyed it tremendously. Any other reader would have earned this 5 stars.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As a francophile, accompanying Julia as she falls in love with France and the French (even with all of the idiosyncrasies) is a delightful ride. My only regret about this audiobook is the narrator's proficiency in French. Julia uses French words throughout the book--adding quite a bit of flavor to her writing (no pun intended)--but the narrator gets the pronunciation wrong maybe 10 percent of the time, and not-so-great maybe 60 percent of the time. Kind of unimpressive considering the context. But I'd definitely recommend this book.
This has been on my to-read list for a while, and I'm so glad I picked it up. The narrator is wonderful, and just about every chapter made me hungry. It's one of the few novels I actually might leave on my phone, even though I've completed it. I keep getting the urge to re-listen to bits of it when I'm puttering around my kitchen and attempting to make something half as fantastic as Julia Child's dishes. It's one of those books I got completely absorbed in, which is rare for me with nonfiction. It's funny and sweet and made me want to book a holiday to France as soon as possible.
Oh, and a word of advice: if you're using Audible for Android, make sure you download the book as two parts. For some reason the download failed when I tried to download it as one part, and the customer service rep I spoke to had the same issue when trying to replicate the problem. I almost had to have it refunded since I couldn't get it onto my phone. The two-part download worked fine, though, so I was happy in the end.
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