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The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,008 Ratings  ·  245 Reviews
From the legendary editor who helped shape modern cookbook publishing--one of the food world's most admired figures--an evocative and inspiring memoir.
Living in Paris after World War II, Judith Jones broke free of the bland American food she had been raised on and reveled in everyday French culinary delights. On returning to the States--hoping to bring some "joie de cuisi
Hardcover, 290 pages
Published October 23rd 2007 by Alfred A. Knopf
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Food-Related Non-Fiction
99th out of 746 books — 1,380 voters
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29th out of 54 books — 17 voters

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Feb 20, 2009 Cathy rated it it was amazing
I love this book and can't believe I waited so long to read it. Jones edited John Updike, Sylvia Plath, Anne Tyler, and rescued The Diary of Anne Frank from a slush pile at an American publishing house. She translated Camus and Sartre for American audiences. She changed the way Americans eat by publishing Julia Child, James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher, and Madhur Jaffrey.

This book is mostly about what it was like to publish these amazing cookbooks and how American tastes have evolved.

But her memoir als
Highly enjyable although for a memoir she doesn't get too personal. I guess some of the things I was curious about (like hooking up with her married husband) are really none of my beeswax though. I guess I was looking for more emotion and she seemed a bit detatched. Her husbands death was adressed in one sentence. She also tends to skip around time a bit and the book ends a bit abruptly.

But despite it's shortcomings I really liked reading about the great chefs she met and about her time in Pari
Nov 03, 2008 Kristin rated it liked it
Shelves: foodie
This was a very quick and interesting read - I finished it in a couple of days. Judith Jones is the editor who brought the world Anne Frank’s Diary and Mastering the Art of French Cooking and many other well known cookbooks in the 1950s, 60's and 70's. She was there to ride the wave of French cooking and good home cooking in general and eventually international cooking in America at a time when jello molds and cream of mushroom casserole’s were a standard.

Jones doesn't dwell too long on any one
Dec 07, 2009 Maggie rated it really liked it
Lately I've been surrounding myself with the words of women whose lives have been shaped by food. They are great company, these women, and reveal something new to me with each read. My latest culinary/literary journey was Judith Jones' 'The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food.' Jones was the legendary Knopf editor responsible for publishing dozens of food luminaries over the course of her career. As the Times put it, "Ms. Jones may not be the mother of the revolution in American taste ... but she remain ...more
Apr 19, 2008 Sandra added it
Judith Jones's memoir ia about her love affair with food. As senior editor for Knopf for many years, she has worked with the "greats" in the food writing business.

Beginning her career after World War II, working for Doubleday in Paris, where she socialized with the likes of Capote and Baldwin, and got permission from Otto Frank to publish his late daughter's diary, and now still editing for Knopf, Jones's book is a history of her world and the truly creative geniuses she welcomed into it....Jul
Dec 29, 2007 Wendy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who reads cookbooks for fun
Shelves: foodies, memoir
A little bland for someone who worked with the greatest cookbook authors of the 20th century, including Julia Child, Marcella Hazen, Madhur Jaffrey and Jim Beard. Jones only skims the surface of her relationship with the culinary giants, and one wishes she had taken the time to add a little more spice and substance to her memoir. For those of us with a cookbook addiction, however, this is still an essential read. It was a nice palate cleanser to the much tastier "My Life in France" by Julia Chil ...more
Elizabeth Bradley
Jun 10, 2008 Elizabeth Bradley rated it it was ok
disappointing!! Confused narrative structure and cloying descriptions...and this from a legendary editor? She only gets as delightfully crisp (almost brutal) as she was onstage at Cooper Hewitt when she is describing "her" authors (Marcella H. was a bitch!), and determinedly walking her timid readers through her favorite recipes...including one for brains in mustard sauce. The "gooseberry flummery" sounded more appealing, frankly.
Nov 27, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it
I bought this over the summer, but finally finished it after meeting Jones on Saturday afternoon for a cooking demonstration. Some people stand in line to get tickets to see their favorite band, I was jumping out of my skin to meet an 85-year-old editor! :-) I also felt a certain kinship to her, since her family home was around the corner from where I grew up.

I wouldn't call this a memoir in the traditional sense, she kind of skips around in her life, and what a life she's led. I would maybe sa
I love books about people who love food - and I particularly loved this book since Jones' job for many years was to find people who loved food and encourage them to write books about it. Jones' memoir was weakest, for me, when she was talking about her own early years and connection to food - perhaps because the food she remembers is so often bland and a form of privation in its own way. But once Jones' discovers France, and begins to edit numerous cook books (including -Mastering the Art of Fre ...more
Mar 10, 2009 Katie rated it liked it
Shelves: foodie, memoir, new-york
Very much enjoyed this book, as I do any book written by someone who changed the way Americans (the world?) view food.

I wish Jones had spent a bit more time on the actual editing process rather than on food's role in society, but I suppose that's because I come from publishing. Reading about how these cookbook authors - the fabulous Julia Child being the catalyst - introduced America to a whole bevy of new foods and flavors and tastes was fascinating - I realized, but only half-heartedly, just
This is a fascinating autobiography of one of the great editors in cooking. A friend let me borrow it because the author spends time up in the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont and thought I would be interested.
Judith was the editor for Julia Child and others. She and her husband Evan brought french cooking into the mainstream. (as well as Thai, Indian, Chinese and American) Her commentary later in the book about how American's taste in food is being manipulated by marketing is on target. She quote
Feb 07, 2010 Linda rated it it was ok
We had a great discussion at a library book group, but I didn't particularly enjoy this book. Jones is an editor who went to Paris in 1948, fell in love with French food and an American man, and was the editor for Julia Child and other big names in cooking, as well as for Anne Tyler and John Updike. She came across as elitist and completely unappealing to me, and I couldn't get past that. But it was a fun discussion (most in the book group liked it) and a good choice for groups that have read ot ...more
Diane Barnes
Oct 31, 2015 Diane Barnes rated it liked it
3.5 stars
This was an interesting book about Judith Jones love affair with food and cookbook authors. As the editor who brought Julia Child to the attention of the American public, she was involved in all stages of book and recipe production. She and her husband were both accomplished cooks themselves, and her friends included most of the most famous cookbook authors and chefs in America. An interesting side note early in the book has her rescuing Anne Frank's diary from a slush pile and fighting
A disappointing book. I was looking forward to hearing about Judith Jones and her experiences with so many pivotal foodies. Eventually, I ended up skimming much of the trite, sophomoric, skimpy narration about a life that could have been told with so much more vivacity and detail. Jones may well be a skilled editor and publisher, but she is not a writer. Her story was pleading for sensual description, yet her voice seems as if she just jotted down a litany of the foods she has eaten, the places ...more
Mar 25, 2009 Barrie rated it it was ok
This book had a lot of And then I did this And then I did that. Boring. Just like how food critiques should talk about the food, and not just say it was good, this book should've talked more about her experiences and not that she just had lots of them. I would've loved if she went deeper into her friendship with Beard or Childs, but nothing, nada, zilch. There were hints of a story that maybe lasted a paragraph, but overall the only thing I'll take away from this book are the 5 recipes I'll actu ...more
Mar 12, 2010 Ellen rated it it was amazing
Great fun! An American girl who graduated from college in the protective (for females) 50's, then finagled not only a trip to Paris, but a temporary job there, then met the two loves of her life; the first a married (!) man, the second French food. She became increasingly sophisticated through living in Paris. Learning to cook great meals seems to have happened almost accidentally. Then, a job as an editor leads to food criticism, then helping edit Julia Child's books. An amazing story of a full ...more
Apr 01, 2009 Marsha rated it liked it
A short book - about 200 pages - this is a memoir of the editor of many cookbook authors, including Julia Child. My favorite parts were when Mrs. Jones shared her philosophies about food and how it connects us to nature and to our history. She is also very encouraging about being inventive in using the items you have on hand and not worrying about following someone else's recipe. It is a bit like she has sat down with you in the kitchen to chat about her experiences, which are fascinating, but l ...more
Apr 05, 2016 M. rated it really liked it
Judith Jones's memoir will disappoint those expecting the charm (or fireworks) of other well-known "food" memoirs, like those by Ruth Reichl or Gabrielle Hamilton. It's a straightforward account of the life of a woman who fell in love with Paris and its cuisine and who went on to become a revered editor of cookbooks, the force behind Julia Child, Marcella Hazan, Irene Kuo, Madhur Jaffrey, Claudia Roden, and many others. It's also a passionate appeal for a return to home cooking.

This book is a go
Feb 28, 2008 Pdxstacey rated it really liked it
I like food, I like Julia Child, I like feminist travel writing. So, I loved this book.

I'm not sure it's nice to serve tripe to a kid used to mac and cheese from a box, but I admire her zest for life. It seemed particularly zesty as I was in bed sipping theraflu while I read it.
Virginia Bonnett
Oct 16, 2014 Virginia Bonnett rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
I adored this book!!! I knew a bit about Jones from reading a few books by or about Julia Child. Jones' life and her journey learning to love and cook food was just captivating! I loved her writing style and her stories. However, the best part was the 82 pages of recipes at the end of the book I didn't even know about until I got to the end! The book was so inspiring and motivating to continue the journey of learning, improving, and expanding your cooking skills. I'm so glad I found this book an ...more
Judith B. Jones, a senior editor and vice president at Knopf, rescued The Diary of Anne Frank from the rejects pile. In 1960, she championed a cookbook no other publisher would touch, named it Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and became Julia Child's editor from then on. In THE TENTH MUSE she talks about her life in food starting with childhood memories of her Mother not liking onions or garlic. Good thing she had an Aunt who liked onions and garlic, was willing to have them in her kitchen a ...more
May 28, 2013 Marci rated it liked it
I almost stopped at the second chapter, intimidated by this woman who seemed to disparage much of what I like to eat, and I could almost feel her sneering as I cooked dinner. However, I was interested in her bits of life story, and since I have worked as an editor, her stories of the authors she edited were interesting too, and I was especially intrigued to find she was the editor responsible for convincing everyone necessary to publish Anne Frank's diary. I'm not a foodie, but I have to say tha ...more
Nov 01, 2013 Mirrani rated it it was amazing
When I went over to my grandmother’s house on the weekends, I would undoubtedly find myself making cookies or banana bread or some other such thing on one of the days we were together. For her it was something exciting, for me it was something to pass the time. I have very fond memories of walking in to her kitchen with all of the cooking gadgets and gizmos scattered on the counters, in cupboards and on shelves, but I never wanted to bother with any of it for myself. As I got older, I used the g ...more
Laurie Tomchak
Aug 03, 2012 Laurie Tomchak rated it it was ok
I came to this book eagerly, having enjoyed Julie/Julia and Julia Child's memoirs of her early years in France. I watched all the pbs Julia Child tv shows, and tried unsuccessfully to make mille-feuille pastry. I loved Bourdain and Reichl's cooking memoirs and am at a bit of a loss to know why I didn't like this one by the lady who brought us not only Julia Child but Anne Frank. Perhaps it is her somewhat haughty tone. She grew up in a place where garlic and spicy food were unpopular, and had to ...more
Oct 22, 2008 Nikki rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
People who enjoyed Julia Child's memoir, My Life in France will probably enjoy this one as well. Judith Jones was Julia Child's editor and also worked with most of the other famous cookbook authors of that era. She was also married to food writer Evan Jones, with whom she did some cookbooks as well. Judith Jones enjoyed food from an early age, even though this was discouraged in her family, and when she first went to Paris in the late 1940s she fell in love, first with French food and then with ...more
Apr 09, 2012 Marsha rated it it was amazing
Judith came to a love of good food early in life. Her passions were not always shared by others but she found a willing participant and fellow food lover in her father. Her gift for good eating and the preparation of meals was nurtured by him. She was lucky to find a kindred spirit in her husband (who tricked her into accepting scallops, a dish she was allergic to in her childhood). The love and fellowship of food that bound her closely to others as well as to the dishes themselves shine through ...more
I knew Judith from when I worked at Knopf and she has been the editor for many of the best cookbook authors ever: Julia Child, Marcella Hazan, Claudia Roden, Lidia Bastianich among them. She has had a perfectly enviable life and writes about it with economy and relish. What timing she has had, not just being on the forefront of every new food development, but also being poor in France when poverty meant a simple slice of pate de maison for lunch and dinner out at a darling bisto with wine, and s ...more
This book provided some interesting background on the making of many well-known cookbooks, but I certainly like Judith Jones much less for having read it. For a memoir, it was totally impersonal, skims the surface of a life. No story is told in depth or with feeling, it's all as warm and involved as reading the McDonald's menu. Shouldn't be subtitled my life in food if she wanted so much to keep her life out of it. As soon as she separated Evan from his first wife and his children, those childre ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Judith Jones, now a senior editor and vice president at Knopf, has long been a major force in the cookbook world. Her foodie fans might not know that she also played a role in bringing Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl to America or that she has edited literary stars like John Updike and Anne Tyler. Two reviewers faulted Jones's style, but none denied her interesting and influential career. Indeed, if it weren't for Jones, American consumers might have a hard time purchasing such basics as f

Brooke Everett
Jun 11, 2012 Brooke Everett rated it really liked it
Shelves: food
Really quite lovely...those were more romantic times. There's no doubt that Judith Jones had such a huge hand in shaping our current food culture. I found myself nodding in agreement constantly while reading. That, or drooling a bit as she described the delights she experienced in Paris. I want to go to there.

"Only in America! There is something about us that still nurtures a love-hate relationship with food that is hard to dislodge." p. 131

"It seems to me that with all this experimental, high-t
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Judith B. Jones (born 1924) retired as senior editor and vice president at Knopf in 2011. In 1950 she rescued The Diary of Anne Frank from the reject pile. In 1960, she championed a cookbook no other publisher would touch, named it Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and became Julia Child's editor from then on. She ushered all of John Updike's books into print, including the posthumous titles, a ...more
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“Other creatures receive food simply as fodder. But we take the raw materials of the earth and work with them—touch them, manipulate them, taste them, glory in their heady smells and colors, and then, through a bit of alchemy, transform them into delicious creations.” 3 likes
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