My Life in France by Julia Child


Audiobook.  This was an ideal audiobook in all aspects except one.  I discovered one day in a bookstore that there are lots of pictures inthe book taken by Paul Child.  What an appealing woman she was, unpretentious, plain-spoken, and enthusiastic.  And, like Gertrude Bell’s biography, this book is based on contemporaneous letters, making her memories 50 years later of particular meals and lovely days in Paris vibrant. 

While living in France, she began corresponding with Avis DeVoto, wife of Bernard DeVoto (Pulitzer Prize winning author, and editor of the Journals of Lewis and Clark).  Avis connected her in-progress cookbook with Houghton Mifflin, a long term relationship that in the end did not bear fruit.  Eventually the book was published by Knopf, and edited by Judith Jones.  As a young woman, when Judith Jones worked for a publisher in Europe, she convinced the publisher to reconsider a discard — The Diary of Anne Frank.  Eventually she returned to the US and just this week, I saw a short interview with her in the Washington Post.

Julia met Paul during the war in the far east where they were both working for the OSS.  It’s hard to imagine quite how the war propelled this unsophisticated young woman from Pasadina to such work.  After the war, Paul worked for the Foreign Service for many years, mostly in France, but also in Washington and in Oslo.  The story of their arrival in France in 1948 and settling in takes you to another world.  And her slow discovery of her life’s work is a wonderful tale.  Her enthusiasm for food, especially the French view of food is engaging.

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