Welcome to Halfman, Halfbook for my stop on the Blog Tour for My Life in France by Julie Child and published by Duckworth Books.
About the Book
When Julia Child arrived in Paris in 1948, ‘a six-foot-two-inch, thirty-six-year-old, rather loud and unserious Californian’, she barely spoke a word of French and didn’t know the first thing about cooking.
As she fell in love with French culture – buying food at local markets, sampling the local bistros, and taking classes at the Cordon Bleu – her life began to change forever. We follow her extraordinary transformation from kitchen ingénue to internationally renowned (and internationally loved) expert in French cuisine.
Bursting with Child’s adventurous and humorous spirit, My Life in France captures post-war Paris with wonderful vividness and charm.
About the Author
Julia Child (1912-2004) was born in California and worked for American intelligence during World War II. Afterwards she lived in Paris, studied at the Cordon Bleu and taught cooking with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, with whom she wrote the first volume of the bestselling classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961) that has sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide.
I have a fair collection of cookery books including some by American authors, in particular Carol Field, who has written some excellent books on Italian Baking. However, it might be because I am of the wrong generation and on this side of the Atlantic, I am ashamed to say until I was offered a copy of this book to read, that I had never come across Julia Child. Turns out she was quite a big thing in cookery books in America in her time.
This memoir by her and her nephew, Alex Prud’Homme has enlightened me somewhat now.
Beginning with her early life in Pasadena, California and the events that meant she ended up working for American Intelligence. It was a posting to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) during world war II where she met Paul. They were married soon after the war and he was posted with his job in the diplomatic service in Paris. He knew about the country as his mother had lived there, but for her, it was a bit of a shock.
She was to discover that the food was excellent though, an early stop at a restaurant in Rouen was to be a revelation, and the fact that they had wine at lunchtime shocked her. But, as this book shows, she was flexible and adaptable and set about learning the language, but it was the opportunity to learn how the French cook when she signed up for a Cordon Bleu course that the direction of her life changed completely.
She took the skill that she had learnt and began a cookery school with two other French women that they called L’Ecole des Trois Gormandes, or The School of the Three Hearty Eaters. From this an opportunity came up for her and two others, to write a cookery book for the American market. So they set about writing it. The deal with the first publisher fell through and she secured another. Testing the classic French recipes for the American market and writing the book took a while and it was going to be a monster at around 700 pages, but somehow they finally finished it. It went on to become a best seller and made her a household name.
What I liked most about this book was learning the life story of someone who I had never heard of at all before picking this up. The narrative style that this book is written in works really well, it didn’t feel like I was reading a work by two authors and the way they tell her fascinating life story is always entertaining. Unsurprisingly, there is lots about food in here, but I was surprised not to have a smattering of her most popular recipes included. Might have to keep an eye out for her books now.
Don’t forget to visit the other blogs on the blog tour
Buy this at your local independent bookshop. If you’re not sure where your nearest is then you can find one here
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for arranging a copy of the book to read.