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)
Julia Child, more than probably anyone, changed the face of eating in America. Her story in her own words of how she went from a expatriate housewife, to one of the leading voices of eating well in the world. A great read. Intoxicating!
This book gave me a much better understanding of Julia Child's background and how she developed her expertise in cooking. I had always been aware of Julia as an American, and now I realize how thoroughly she was involved with France and French cooking. The book also gives a very interesting account of the development of their cookbook and how the push to be a celebrity chef was already happening in the 1970's before the Food Channel!
I agree with the previous reviewer that the narrator's french was not always pronounced properly, but I found the narration pleasant and easy to listen to. I would highly recommend this book to foodies and francophiles.
Disappointing that the narrator can't quite transmit the essence of Julia's words. Her French is lacking, which distracts from the story.
Otherwise, a recommended book for any fans of Julia.
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.
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.
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.
Loved the book. But, why was reader chosen! No one could have a less apt voice and her French pronunciation was AWFUL. It was very distracting. You have so many fantastic readers. This was a terrible choice.
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.
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.
If you love cooking and the romance of living in France, read this book. If you love cooking, the romance of living in France and are a Republican, be prepared for what seems like frequent bashing. Nary is an opportunity missed to denigrate The Right. Julia also had daddy issues that are addressed a bit too much. BUT, despite my political leaning, I absolutely loved "My Life in France" The descriptions of the Child's homes, meals, friends, family, even pets blended perfectly to transform the reader to France in the 40's and 50's as The Childs experienced it. Details of how "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" evolved were fascinating. This autobiography was well-paced, never boring. Julia's life is an inspiration to all those over 40 who have yet to attain personal goals. I would highly recommend "my Life in France" to all.
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