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)
Drawn to this title by my interest in food, french cooking, and American background, I found this book to be all that and more. Julia Child manages not only to remember details about meals eaten decades ago, but has an uncanny ability to describe them so that the reader or listener can almost taste them. She brings across clearly the essence of french cuisine which she loves, getting right to the soul of the food (not to mention the Sole Normande!). I thought the narration was good, clear and well-paced, although her "false french accent" when quoting french-speakers was a little uneccesary.
I heartily recommend this book to lovers of food and of france. It is truly inspiring!
What a wonderful memoir from beginning to end. The only reason I didn't give it the highest rating is the reader. Anyone who has ever heard Julia Child knows her distinctive high pitched voice, and the reader so clearly is not Julia, that I found it a bit disconcerting. More importantly though, she cleary doesn't speak French, although she manages a decent accent. Any first year French student knows that femme rhymes with hum not hem, that beurre blanc has no k sound at the end, that cuisine bourgoise does sound the s, etc. etc. etc. Call me a stickler for detail, but that's just plain sloppy. Sorry Julia, you deserve better.
I loved the movie regarding Julia Child's life in Julie and Julia. However, this book is a little over the top in regards to eating and French in general. I wish I had used my credit on another book.
No Pink Ponies
This is a wonderful memoir--the story of a mighty book (Mastering the Art of French Cooking) and a deep insight into the making of Julia Child as well as a portrait of Paul Child, always in the background but a deep influence and beloved partner for Julia.
Sad to say, the READING is inferior. The accent is miserable. Admittedly, it helps to learn French early to get the accent right, but there have to be better readers of French. It negatively affects the book and gets downright annoying when you hear words like maitre d'hotel mangled consistently. Even the reader's ENGLISH is wrong--leitmotif is pronounced "LIGHT-moteef" not "LEET-moteef". Ruins a phenomenal book. Who approved this reader? She stinks.
Unfortunately saw the movie, I guess that was enough. A good story about the mid to late life of Julia and her husband.
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