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As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto
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As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto

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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  2,659 ratings  ·  424 reviews
With her outsize personality, Julia Child is known around the world by her first name alone. But despite that familiarity,how muchdo we really know of the inner Julia?

Now more than 200 letters exchanged between Julia and Avis DeVoto, her friend and unofficial literary agent memorably introduced in the hit movie Julie & Julia, open the window on Julia’s deepest thoughts
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Paperback, 416 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by Mariner (first published January 1st 2010)
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Cynthia
What a wonderful gift Joan Reardon has given us! She’s put together the letters exchanged between Avis DeVoto and Julia Child throughout the 1950’s. The letters include contemporary politics, mostly of the US but also concerning the places Julia’s Government Service husband, Paul, was posted. They were stationed in China, Germany, and Norway and of course France. The ladies also mull over the goings on at distinguished US universities as well as Avis’ work on the fringes of the publishing world ...more
stormhawk
What a great time it was, when people not only corresponded by letter, but kept their correspondence!

The journey to publishing Mastering the Art of French Cooking is fascinating in and of itself, but what makes this book more interesting is the interplay of two women who correspond "over the point of a knife," talking about their lives, their families, and politics, during a particularly rich time for it ... In the early chapter of the book McCarthy is hunting Commies under every magazine cover,
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The Library Lady
Bl**p Julie Powell and her crappy, self indulgent "Julie and Julia".

Read this and My Life In France and you will get a picture of Julia Child sans four letter words or the less than interesting life of a Julia wanna be. Instead you will get the marvelous Avis de Voto.

Avis is pictured in the movie "Julie and Julia" (I skipped any Powell sequences) for about 5 seconds, supposedly meeting her pen pal Julia Child for the first time in a train station. Didn't happen that way, and DeVoto was far more
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Sherri
I was a little skeptical as to whether I would enjoy a book of letters. I thoroughly enjoyed My Life in France, and a book of letters between Julia and her friend during the time when she was working on Mastering the Art of French Cooking was too intriguing to skip. It was a delight on so many levels. I enjoyed reading Julia's thoughts unedited about cooking, the changes in cooking in the USA (such as frozen chicken breasts) and her feelings about politics, their travels, etc. I equally fell for ...more
Tanna
This is more amazing than anything I've read "about" Julia Child because this is Julia Child talking to a friend in letters over the years.
It gives me the feeling that these two women (Julia & Avis) were blogging before there were blogs. At least, that's the voice that comes through to me reading their letters to each other.
This is gorgeous reading and I know I'm going to be more in love with Julia when I finish reading it that when I started.

As a side note: This book is available on the Kin
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Julieann Wielga
My sister is a memoir reader. Always memoirs of women. Who woman are and what they think and how to be one is always on our minds. Women's letters to other woman speak to me. I connected with Flannery O Connor as she worked through her Catholism, her writing and her lupus. I loved Catherine White's letters to Elizabeth Lawrence, one a southern gardener and one a northern writer. For the past many years I have been interested in how the making of food and community and woman's lives intertwine. S ...more
Susan
This is an unusual book as it is almost exclusively correspondence between two women that started by chance when Julia Child wrote a letter to Bernard DeVoto commenting on an article he had written about knives. That letter was answered by his wife, Avis, who did a lot of Bernard's secretarial work. From that small and chance beginning, a strong friendship bloomed that lasted almost forty years until Avis' death. The editor, Joan Reardon, has added a little summary at the beginning of each of th ...more
Julie Bestry
Oh my goodness, this was an unexpectedly good book. Obviously I thought it might be worth a flip-through, or I wouldn't have reserved it at the library and read it, but I honestly didn't expect "As Always, Julia" to be so darn good. And the best part isn't even Julia, but Avis! (No, not the car rental company.)

Subtitled "Food, Friendship & the Making of a Masterpiece" is an epistolary memoir. I love epistolary novels, and enjoyed the letters of John & Abigail Adams, but never figured I'd
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Kristin (Kritters Ramblings)
Well, this book was a hard and long read. I am a fan of Julia Childs and loved reading about her life in the parts of Julie and Julia, but this book was rough.

A book that is 90% letters between the pen pals - Julia Childs and Avis DeVoto. This was a great way to get to know two women who changed the face of not only cookbooks, but food on tv. The structure of the book was appealing - but I had a few issues.

I did not enjoy the parts of the letters between Avis and Julia that pertained to politics
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Joanna
This was a wonderful collection of letters between friends that span many years of growth and change. As you read, you get the sense that Julia Child is blossoming into the chef that she will one day become, while Avis is navigating a new relationship to the world after her husband's death. But more than that, and more than the mouth watering recipes they exchange, Avis and Julia provide a fascinating chronicle of America (and the world) during McCarthyism. The exchange of their letters starts i ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
It seems like each book that is published gives us more information about Julia Child, and I continue to be inspired by this character of a woman. I was inspired during the Julie & Julia craze (based on Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen and My Life in France, both great reads), and before that had considered Baking with Julia: Sift, Knead, Flute, Flour, And Savor... one of my top baking cookbooks.

So I was surprised to feel like I learned so much more about Juli
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Jaclyn
When Julia Child wrote a fan letter to Bernard de Voto, she could not possibly have imagined that her letter would set into motion a decades-long chain of correspondence with de Voto's wife, Avis. Nor could she have imagined that Avis would become her closest friend and confidante, and she Avis's, or that Avis would be the force behind pushing Julia's magnum opus, Mastering the Art of French Cooking through two publishing houses and into millions of American kitchens. No, Julia and Avis were jus ...more
Megan
This book was a beast! It took me forever to get through it, but I'm do glad I did! Joan Reardon presents us with a real labor of love, an edited compilation of correspondence between Julia Child and her pen pal Avis DeVoto. They were both amazing women and I felt like I wanted them to be some sort of maternal figure in my life. The letters really show how much time and effort when into the Julia's cookbook on both their parts. It found myself consulting google me Julia's cookbook to learn more ...more
Jean-marcel
Mostly stultifying. You have to be pretty devoted to really want to read peoples' personal correspondence, and this is just that. Two women natter on endlessly about: stainless steel kitchen utensils and how much they suck, how much Joe Mcarthy sucks, how different life in Paris is from life in Washington, how Frenchmen are stuck up, how Frenchmen are amazing, how you can't get good spices in 1953 USA, how you can't get white bread in 1953 France, how publishers drag their feet, how men like to ...more
Rachel
Oh, Julia. Though it took me a long time to get through this book (there are A LOT of letters), I loved every minute of it. Reading Julia and Avis' correspondence really made me feel as though I got to know them as people, Julia's letters spoke in the same voice as the one I fell in love with when I read My Life In France, and reminded me of all the reasons I love and respect her so much. It's also fun that a lot of Avis' news revolves around happenings in Cambridge, at places I have been to or ...more
Kate
I loved this book, not as much for the food (most of which, as a vegetarian, I will never cook nor eat) as for the insight into this era of the United States. Letters between Julia and Avis reveal what it was like to live in the McCarthy era; their dialogue is that of two people who move in circles of people interested in writing, publishing, conservation, and politics. This book is for food lovers, but it's also for anyone curious about American history and a view of how timeless friendships ca ...more
Jennifer Whiteford
I put this on my "read" shelf with some hesitation because I wasn't able to finish it in my allotted borrowing time from the library and couldn't renew because of pending holds. This book is giant! Still, I'm giving it four stars because what I read of it, I loved. The letters show two people unafraid of their own passions, approaching food and cooking and writing with enthusiasm and love. The letters are smart and funny. This is the kind of book that I'd rather own than get from the library. Th ...more
Anne Van
I've read a couple of books about Julia Child lately, but this series of "pen pal" letters between Julia and Avis Devoto really tells an amazing story of the years before publication of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and reinforces my image of Julia Child as smart and funny, intensely interested in life. Avis' letters, on the other hand, seemed at first to be name-dropping and brittle, but over the years of their correspondence and her personal losses, she, too, emerges with strength and ...more
Iñaki Tofiño
A friendship that starts over French cutlery and goes on during many years and many letters on French food, American politics, literature... The type of American women / people I like: open minded, intelligent, cultivated. It has been quite a pleasure to read about Child's struggle with her book and her French coauthors, De Voto's managing with and without her husband, the Childs assignments in France, Germany, and Norway, presidential elections, kitchen appliances, friends, children. A great re ...more
Jasmine
So, an epistolary book about food, Julia Child, and Mastering the Art of French cooking was basically written just to make me happy, I think.

I just finished it, after reading on and off for about a month. I loved this book, though the middle got a little slow. The first and last thirds of the book were a delight, though, and I was so sad when I got to the end. I loved seeing how political (and liberal!) Julia was, and the friendship between Julia and Avis was just beautiful.
Jessica
I enjoyed this book, not so much for the "french cooking story" as for its wonderful display of real friendship. It's also a phenomenal portrait of American life in the 1950s--I love it when Julia complains, for instance, about a fellow diplomatic wife who spends too much time matching her clothes.

At one point I put the book down to write a letter to a friend. Isn't that what every compilation of letters should do?
Kathy
A very slow read, but very informative about how her books came to be. The relationship between the two women was that of respect, diplomacy, and a few giggles thrown in for good measure. This is the kind of book that you can put down, pick up, put down again and you won't be lost. If you're not interested in reading about publishers, knives, etc...then this book is not for you. : )
Mary
This book of letters is exactly what our children are going to not have when they grow up because now everything is digital. These letters between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto reveal so much about the times and places they lived. With every page I read I became (if it was possible) even more of a fan of Julia Child.
Khris Sellin
Fascinating seeing the development of the cookbook and the friendship of these two great women evolve through their letters to each other over time, dishing not only about cooking and "cookbookery" but politics, culture, their home lives, and the goings-on at the Embassy where Julia Child's husband worked.
Dvora
I'm just a Julia Child fan, so I was bound to like this book. And I did. Julia was much more than a cook. She was dynamic person who led a very interesting life and was a very lucky girl to have an intelligent, supportive, and loving husband and some very good, close friends. She's an inspiration.
Janet
I liked this very much, esp. the commentary on 1950's social & political issues. Both Julia & Avis have interesting points of view on all the current events as they write, as well as insight into the whole process of writing,editing,publishing a massive cookbook.
Lisa G.
I absolutely loved this book! What a pleasure and privilege to be privy to this wonderful friendship and all its warmth and support. I am a huge fan of Julia Child so that certainly helped. I was fascinated by the bits regarding politics and their social circles. I read it eagerly but not to fast as I knew I would miss their voices was it was done. Makes one want to break out the typewriter and start pounding out as many letters as possible. Think about all the emails that get deleted in this da ...more
Susan
This was a delight to read. Julie & Avis become best friends via letter & did not meet in person for four years...something that I think those who spend a lot of time online will be able to relate to. They cover "the book" of course but a lot of politics, post-war Europe & the States, family, friends, food history, everything. Just a note about books of letters: it can be a wonderful thing to have on the night stand with a few other books. When you're tired but want to read something ...more
Pam Nichols
This was an inexpensive Kindle download and I loved it. I am a fan of everything Julia, from Julie and Julia, to My Life in France, to Mastering the Art of French Cooking (which I have yet to even attempt, let alone master)! Particularly intriguing to me is the nearly accidental friendship between Julia and Avis. Their letters reflect their very liberal political views in the 1950s-60, Julia penning from various diplomatic posts in Europe, and Avis from the literate university environment of Cam ...more
Shaynipper
Enjoyed reading about Julia's life in France, what was happening in the world at that time and
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Chifems Book Club: As Always, Julia discussion questions 1 8 Mar 29, 2012 09:44AM  
  • Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child
  • The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food
  • 52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust
  • The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen
  • Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life
  • Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child
  • Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris
  • The Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition
  • Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
  • A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family
  • Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat
  • Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table
  • Man with a Pan
  • Julia's Cats: Julia Child's Life in the Company of Cats
  • Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris
  • A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France
  • The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family
  • Shark's Fin And Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China
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Julia Child was a famous American cook, author, and television personality who introduced French cuisine and cooking techniques to the American mainstream through her many cookbooks and television programs. Her most famous works are the 1961 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and, showcasing her sui generis television persona, the series The French Chef, which premiered in 1963.

More about Julia Child...
My Life in France Mastering the Art of French Cooking The Way to Cook Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Vol. 2 Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home

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“To think that we might easily have gone through life not knowing each other, missing all this free flow of love and ideas and warmth and sharing... We share really almost everything. (Avis DeVoto to Julia Child)” 12 likes
“I'm getting stale. I always do this time of year. I keep my nose to the grindestone and put in long hours and rustle up good meals and do all the chores and run errands and get along with people -- and have a fine time doing it and enjoy life. Then I realize, bang, that I'm tired and I don't want to wait on my family for a while and I wish I could go away somewhere and have people wait on me hand and foot, and dress up and go to restaurants and the theater and act like a woman of the world. I feel as if I'd been swallowed up whole by all these powerful DeVotos and I'd like to be me for a while with somebody who never heard the name.” 9 likes
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