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)
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.
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.
Julia Child was a remarkable women! Love that this book was written by her also. Many parts of this book made me smile and even giggle. I have a real appreciation for Paul her husband and how much they loved each other.
Blue Dome Mimi
This was an endearing book because it was about Julia Child, and I listened with interest throughout. I would just say that her energy and enthusiasm were noticeably missing because she simply waited too long to write it. It's more of an overview than a fully detailed description. Having said that, I'm still glad that I know the story of her life and would listen to this book again.
Avid reader of classics and fiction, history and well-written genre novels. Music lover and huge audiobook fan.
I enjoyed every minute of this well narrated and well written book. It is the basis for the part of the movie Julie/Julia that is based on Julia Child's life and it describes both her love of cooking and the delights of living in France...also the delights of EATING in France. A great recommendation for fans of France or of Julia Child."
This book is a wonderful connection to a fascinating woman and her very exciting, rich life. I learned to cook with Volume 1 and now I feel like I am learning about a friend.
I heartily encourage others to 'read' it.
I agree with those who criticize the narration: while it would be difficult to capture Julia's iconic voice, it absolutely does matter how words are pronounced. I am constantly jarred out of the story by words in French (and even English!) that are mispronounced.
I believe someone who is paid to read aloud should spend some time researching how words are pronounced before beginning the task.
Snobbish? I don't think so. Just asking for competence.
It is not unreasonable to expect that this iconic wonderful woman's book about her life in France should be read with correct French pronounciation. I found the reader's butchering of 'Les Halles' and 'Hermes,' among many others, so distracting, it colored my enjoyment. I still give this five stars, but I think this book would be more enjoyed when read the old fashioned way.
While it was Saturday Night "spoofable" Julia Childs distinctive voice was almost iconic. The narrator for her biography however is stilted and almost shrill. I have tried several times to finish this book and just cannot handle her voice. Too bad. Not a bad accounting of Julia's life.
The only downside to this audiobook is the narrator. Couldn't they find someone who actually spoke French to read the book? Julia Child deserved as much! If you speak French, the narration may drive you crazy. For example, "Louisette" sounded like "Louis VII" and "beurre blanc" became "beurre blanK." Howevever, if you can ignore it, it's a wonderful listen. I learned a great deal about the master and her love for good food, friends, and post-war France.
This narrator is a perfectly fine storyteller...in English. But she mangles the French language so badly [and there's SO MUCH FRENCH in this book] that it's painful to listen to. I cringe every time she turns a beautiful French place name or food into a sound resembling a cat being strangled.
I have endured several hours of this and am enjoying the story, but may have to abandon it and read it in the paper version instead. It's just too painful.
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