I just finished My Life in France by Julia Child and her great nephew, Alex Prud’homme.
It took a while to read this book, mostly because I took a break to read The Weird Sisters in the middle of it. But I loved it. If you loved the movie version of Julie and Julia, I’m guessing you loved it for the Meryl Streep/Julia Child parts. Um, duh. Amy Adams is great, but her character is not Julia Child, and therefore, is not as fun.
The best part of reading this book was realizing that the fabulous Ms. Streep was not making up that character at all. Julia was like that, in her life, in her writing. Her passion and zest for life was so apparent in this book. The book mostly follows the writing of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, much like the film does. Except that the writing of this book took something like 10 years, and the journey only began in France. The movie severely condenses the story to fit into France only.
Anywho, back to the book. Julia really just tried everything. Paul was a supportive husband, an artist, photographer, and great lover of food and wine. Their love for each other seeps out of everywhere. Paul helped Julia every step of the way. And Julia moved wherever Paul needed to be for his thankless job. She made accommodations to work on her book from everywhere. And they made the best of every situation. They lived a life so different from my original idea of post-World War II life. I found out through my Cold War class that the suburban life was actually unavailable to most Americans immediately after WWII.
But what really gets me is that they lived a lifestyle so different from the one I think I will live, not because I don’t want to, but because we can’t do everything. While I would love to live abroad for a year or two, between school and prospective child-rearing, it’s just not in the life plan. But it’s fun to read about people who did, and continue to do. Carrie in Boston, AKA Weddingbee’s Mrs. Octopus, recently talked about having to make life choices. I was right in the middle of reading MLIF, and she perfectly summed up how I was feeling.
“Life itself is the proper binge”- Julia Child
Julia Child is so fascinating to me. She was an optimist and lived life to the fullest. She took advantage of every opportunity, and became one of the most famous chefs in American history. Have you heard of the James Beard Award? (That’s right, Top Chef fans, I’m talking to you!) She was buddies with James Beard! She called him Jim, and people called them Gigi when they were cooking together. She was legit, and she just started cooking so that she could enjoy the food around her. Look what that turned into! She lived to be almost 92. I have no doubt her happiness for life kept her alive that long.
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”- Julia Child