four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
23-July-Aug-2006
user_rating: 
0

A-MyLifeInFranceWith My Life in France, world-renowned chef and American treasure Julia Child, who died days short of her 92nd birthday in 2004, serves a final feast: a recollection of her formative years in France after the end of World War II; her relationship with her husband, Paul Child, an artist and diplomat whom she met while working in Sri Lanka; and her perpetual search for the transcendent culinary experiences and friendships that defined her life. It is an engaging account of how Julia McWilliams, the gawky, parochial daughter of a conservative California businessman, became a cultural icon and that rarest of birds, a bon vivant who lived a life as genuine as it was rich and worth the retelling.
Knopf. 336 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 1400043468

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"That Julia Child loved food and made an intensive study of it is of course not worth remarking. Her vivid, all but carnal description of a score of meals, though, does something quite different from the writing of our regular restaurant critics. It is an affair of heart, gut, and brain, versus brain and palate." Richard Eder

Chicago Sun-Times 4 of 5 Stars
"There are no recipes in this posthumous memoir of her formative years in Europe during the mid-20th century. But there are rich stories about how she discovered the recipes she made famous, all told in her lively, infectious style." Ben Goldberger

Ft. Worth Star Telegram 4 of 5 Stars
"My Life in France is a warm, touching, and endlessly engaging account of how [Child] channeled her enthusiasm for living large into an indefatigable pursuit of her kitchen calling. … My Life unspools in such a conversational way … that it’s as if Child herself is sitting opposite you, spinning one more garlic-scented yarn." Andrew Marton

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"The unembarrassed zest that made The French Chef and her subsequent TV shows so popular bursts from every page. … [Child] was a genius indeed—not just in the kitchen, or in front of the camera, but, as this memoir clearly shows, in mastering the art of living." Joanne Weintraub

Minneapolis Star Tribune 4 of 5 Stars
"Whether writing about a meal from 1948 in three rich pages, about the people of the Côte d’Azur in a few short paragraphs, or about the significance of friendship, Child conveys a lasting wonder and excitement." G. E. Patterson

San Francisco Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"Everything that made her the superstar she became overnight with The French Chef on public television is on display here: the lack of pretension that in no way inhibited her devotion to excellence in food and its preparation, a can-do attitude that never pretended that accidents couldn’t or didn’t happen, and most of all, a gusto second to none." Martin Rubin

Critical Summary

More than four decades ago, Julia Child first brought her joie de vivre—and classic recipes—to American kitchens with cookbooks that included Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961) and a handful of immensely popular cooking shows, beginning in 1963 with the decade-long run of The French Chef. In My Life in France, an engaging, nuanced addition to the body of her work, Child was assisted by great-nephew Alex Prud’homme, who allowed Child’s distinctive voice to ring throughout. Child herself worked diligently on the manuscript during the last year of her life. The result is a memoir that brings to life the jocular, grandmotherly guide who introduced so many Americans to the joy of peerless meals conceived and prepared with élan and rich imagination.