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My Life in France

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  67,619 Ratings  ·  6,520 Reviews
Julia Child singlehandedly created a new approach to American cuisine with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show The French Chef, but as she reveals in this bestselling memoir, she was not always a master chef. Indeed, when she first arrived in France in 1948 with her husband, Paul, who was to work for the USIS, she spoke no French and kn ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published April 4th 2006 by Anchor (first published 2006)
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Rhoda Julia stated, "The longer I was in France, the stronger and more ecstatic my feelings for it became. I missed my family, of course, and things like…moreJulia stated, "The longer I was in France, the stronger and more ecstatic my feelings for it became. I missed my family, of course, and things like certain cosmetics or really good coffee. But the U.S. seemed like an increasingly distant and dreamlike place.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kelly
I did not grow up on Julia Child. I’m too young to have watched her TV show, and my mom wasn’t the type to own any of her cookbooks (we stuck to mostly Italian recipes handed down from my dad’s mom and ranch-style cooking- or, if we were unlucky, my British nanny’s “traditional” English dishes she insisted we try). I barely knew who she was before I started cooking a few years ago. I admit that I wasn’t really interested in her until the recent movie Julie and Julia, which definitely made me wan ...more
Melissa
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Oh, how I love and adore this book. It's one of the best I've read lately, combining as it does my love of France, Julia, and food in one funny, touching package. Julia Child was such a unique, eccentric, brilliant woman, and I'm always inspired when I realize that she struggled along at loose ends for years before finding her true passion and calling.

Her marriage to Paul Child is beautifully portrayed in the book. He was quite a worldly, erudite man, and very forward-thinking for his time in th
...more
Richard Derus
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 3.875* of five

The Book Report: Truth in advertising had no greater champion than Julia Child. Her book is called exactly and precisely what it is: The narrative of her life in France. She begins her book on November 3, 1948, with the Child family landing at Le Havre, getting into their gigantic Buick station wagon, and motoring off across northern France towards Paris. They stop at thirty-six-year-old native Californian Mrs. Child's first French restaurant, La Couronne, where her husband
...more
Tien
Sep 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I kind of think of Julia of the best example of most everything, including:
- a bad cook (she was really, really horrible when she started);
- a great cook (obviously)
- a wayward child/late bloomer (didn't touch a pan until she was 36)
- a once-spoiled-now-reformed upper classman (grew up in Pasadena)
- what to do when living in France (eat, learn to cook, eat more)
- a foodie (not snobby, just loves food)
- an American (see above, re: Pasadena)
- a teacher (pick any one of her shows, but the French C
...more
Petra Eggs
I didn't know anything about Julia Child apart from having heard her name and that she was 6' tall until the book Julie and Julia. I read that and whereas I didn't think much of Julie at all (I think she should go back to blogging, a book's a bit much for her) I was curious about Julia.

The book is beautifully written by her nephew Paul Prud'homme and illustrated with many photographs from her talented ex-diplomat husband Paul. Its a lovely story of a life through cooking and inspired by France a
...more
Mahlon
Aug 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Julia fans, foodies, people who like travel writing, lovers of good Biography
Recommended to Mahlon by: Saw Julie and Julia
Shelves: read-2009
I've never been a fan of Julia Child, and whenever I ran across her show on PBS I'd make a conscious effort to change the channel, which was why I was surprised when My Life in France turned out to be one of the most well-written, engaging Autobiographies I've read in quite awhile. The book covers roughly the same time period as the movie Julie & Julia except that it extends into the mid-70's and discusses the beginning of her TV career and the writing of her second book. Even though it was ...more
Michael
A nice window on Child’s love affair with France and its food starting in the post war period. Her relationship with her husband Paul was a high point of the book. I appreciated her practical and good humored approaches to the challenges and solutions to helping the average household achieving quality meals. Some of her friendships and conflicts have some life and color, but for the most part the story came across as bland and sanitized. Some of her passion for particular foods comes through, su ...more
Tim
Sep 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lighthearted and fun recollections of Julia's first years in France. Highly recommended for anyone already enthralled by Julia, whether by her television programs or her excellent cookbooks.

Readers who do not know Julia may find the book a little too rambling, and a little too focused on food they've never tasted and have no idea what it even is (often she does not give translations for food names).

As noted in the introduction, the book was pieced together from conversations Julia's nephew had
...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Oct 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Foodies; Francophiles
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Ultimate Reading List - Biography
I found this an absorbing read, and I'm no foodie. But I think what's striking in this memoir of Child's love affair with French food is her drive, her dedication to excellence, her passion--there's something attractive in that no matter what the endeavor--as well as fascinating to get a picture of such an elite, esoteric world as high cuisine. It all started for Julia in 1948, when she had her first French meal. When she came to France she knew only a smattering of such French phrases as "Merci ...more
Izzy
Mar 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Izzy by: Melissa
Shelves: travel, food, bio
I think the reasons I wanted to read this book are that Julia's always thought of as a late bloomer, and because her travels were so influential in helping her discover herself.

Certainly, her life had great adventure.

Highlights: p. 268

Too tired and busy to go to France. "But then we looked at each other and repeated a favorite phrase from our diplomatic days: "Remember, 'No one's more important than people.'!" In other words, friendship is the most important thing - not career or housework, or
...more
Dana Stabenow
Dec 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I spent the summer of 1987 in Paris, studying beginning French at the Sorbonne and staying at the Cité Universitaire, in a program geared toward older students. Some of them wanted to take a cooking class, and the Sorbonne organized it for them. They needed one more student to make it go, and I was browbeaten into filling the empty space.

Understand, I was raised on the five Alaskan staples of Spam, Bisquik, Velveeta, pilot bread and Carnation Instant Milk. If we didn't get our moose that year we
...more
Diane
If you love books about food or about living in France, this is a must-read. It's the story of how Julia Child learned to cook French food and how she came to write that famous cookbook. (The movie "Julie & Julia" was partially based on this memoir.) The book is filled with charming anecdotes about Paris and Marseille, and includes dozens of photographs that her husband, Paul, took. It's one of the most delightful travel books I've read in years.

What's wonderful about Julia Child is the conf
...more
Agnes
Jan 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Interested in living abroad and/or cooking
Recommended to Agnes by: Liz Glasgow
I love Julia Child, it turns out! This memoir is fun and I want to live her life. I want to live in Paris, Marseille, Oslo and Boston too, creating sumptuous recipes, hanging out with James Beard and decorating a summer house in Provence. Seriously, why am I not her? I wouldn't even mind being dead since 2004.

I am totally convinced that her cookbooks are the foremost authorities on French cooking, now that I've seen how many times she would experiment with a basic recipe to get it right. Makes m
...more
Kathryn
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thorough delight! After all her marvelous culinary contributions, Julia Child (with her nephew, Alex Prud'homme) has created a literary gem--one that will no doubt fill your tastebuds with longing but will satisfy many other senses as it is a joyous, exuberant, intelligent and touching memoir sharing her love for husband Paul, for France, and for good food! I admit that I was fascinated by Julia Child's cooking shows when they aired re-runs on PBS during my childhood--what a big woman, with su ...more
joyce g
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well what can I add to my loving Julia Child as a food personality and chef. She is iconic in her love of life and someone I have always admired.
Never Apologize!!
GoldGato
"Let's eat!"

Okay...I didn't grow up knowing much about Julia Child. To be honest, it was Dan Aykroyd's SNL impersonation of Mrs. Child that first drew my attention. I don't consider it insulting, but a tribute to someone who was obviously a media icon of the 20th Century. That in itself is amazing, as Julia Child would never have been considered the emblem of stardom. She wasn't thin or beautiful or full of herself, but she blossomed into a star of public-funded television.

We had expensive haird
...more
Larissa
Years ago, in preparation for a class project in a YA Lit class in library school, my professor asked me who my hero was. (The having of a hero apparently being a given.) I told her that I didn't really have heroes and she was aghast. "No heroes?" she asked sadly, before brightening just as quickly and asking, "What about Elenore Roosevelt?"

After reading My Life in France, however, I am happy to report that I am as close to having a hero as I've ever been. Julia Child: left-leaning, wayward daug
...more
Yvonne
Feb 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a Christmas gift from my best-friend-forever Ariel, and a perfect read not only for foodies and urban farmgirls like myself, but anyone who's going through the "if not now, when?" blues. As some previous Goodreaders have already noted, it's a bit of a revelation to read about someone so famous (or infamous, if you've seen Dan Ackroyd's histrionic impersonation of "Jules") being such a late bloomer. This is America, and even though Miss Thing found herself in France, we prefer our great ...more
Lisa
Dec 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cooks, learners, late bloomers, europhiles
This book was largely ghost-written by a nephew of Julia's husband. Despite that, it was really quite good, and he spent hundreds of hours with her, listening to her stories and capturing her distinct vernacular. I had always suspected that Julia was an exceptional woman, and this book verified that for me. I expected a limited memoir of her years in France after she and Paul married, but it covered her time from then until around the time of her husband Paul's death in 1994. She arrived in Fran ...more
Negin
“Madame Scheeld” – since reading this book, I’ve been smiling at how the French would address Julia Child. I love accents!

This is a delightful book about Julia Child and the things that she loved the most: her husband, France, cooking, and eating. I’m quite sure that I’m in the minority in that before reading this, I’d never watched an entire episode of Julia Child on TV. I was sad when the book was over, but now I have my eyes set on getting some of her cookbooks and looking up some of her sho
...more
Melora
Nov 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting. I can't say I was crazy about the style, or Julia herself, for that matter, but her enthusiasm and energy came across clearly (relentlessly!) and I found her story to be, mostly, engaging.

Though I'm not actually interested in French food as a general thing, I do remember Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking as a fixture on my mom's cookbook shelf, and I find the social history aspect of the thing – the growing curiosity and excitement about gourmet cooking alongside the incre
...more
Mike
Aug 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone


As I have noted elsewhere, I believe I have all of Julia Child’s solo cookbooks and some, but not all, of the remainder. I include in that list the incomparable, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” Volumes 1 and 2, which I was lucky to by new at a hugely favorable price many years ago.

Although My Life in France is not solely about the writing of that cookbook, much of Julia’s energy and time were consumed with the creation of the first volume while she lived in France. This book is more than j
...more
Valerie
Aug 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Food Bloggers
I loved this book! I learned about it after hearing a discussion about it on NPR shortly after publication. I'm not sure exactly what makes it so compelling to me, because I am not a cook, but I think it's the unpretentious look-at-me-ness that was Julia Child. Alex Prud'homme carefully captured Julia Child's voice and the force of her personality. Even when at times she seemed a little unlikeable, you're still drawn in by her fearless and adventurous nature. This book is also a great slice of l ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Julia was a remarkable woman! I doubt she even realized just how extraordinary she was. Her greatest successes came at an age when most people think their best years have already passed them by.
I'm not fond of French cuisine or rich foods in general, but there is much to enjoy in this book, even if some of the food doesn't sound appealing.
I admire her enthusiasm and eagerness to just dive in wherever she was and learn the language and experience absolutely everything.
It was a revelation to me
...more
Poiema
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am amazed that Julia Child and her great-nephew Alex Prud'homme were able to reconstruct such a detailed account of decades of Julia's life, not only her life in France, but in Germany, and Norway, and the USA as well. She apparently had a fabulous memory, as well as a thick stack of correspondence to refer back to.

Julia's affinity to France makes one wonder if she was born in the wrong place. Her love for the country, the people, and especially the cooking just permeates the book. In contras
...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
After seeing the movie Julie & Julia, it was Julia Child's story that interested me. Her incredible enthusiasm and lust for life was, if not infectious, then admirable. And having spent a measly two weeks in France a few years ago, I dearly wanted to revisit - I can't afford the actual trip, but I could afford the book! I wasn't able to find a copy without the movie cover, sadly, but still.

If you've seen the movie then you're familiar with the book, only there's a lot more in the book than t
...more
Ted
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loved Mastering the Art of French Cooking
The first part of this book covers the years that Julia Child lived in France, from late 1948 to early 1954. She had moved there, at the age of 36, with her husband Paul Child, who had assumed a post with the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) in Paris. He had lived in France previously, spoke French well, and was already enamored with French food. Julia was introduced to everything her husband loved about France in these years, learned French herself, took cooking courses at the famous L'Ecole du C ...more
Beth
Oct 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I picked up this book because of the movie, "Julie and Julia," I soon forgot Meryl Streep and got caught up in the world of Paris just after WWII. Child's descriptions of her life in Paris in the late 1940s/early 1950 definitely made me wish I could have been there. She and her husband, Paul Child (a former OSS officer, then later a sort of cultural attache with the Foreign Service) lived life to the fullest there -- eating amazing food (out, and at home), drinking lots of wine, meeting ...more
Judy
Aug 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: food and memoir lovers
Recommended to Judy by: Anne
I love biographies. I love food memoirs. I love books about places I've never been, sights I haven't seen. My Life in France is all of the above and then some.

Throw in Julia's unique personality, effervescence and other equally entertaining folks such as her cookbook collaborator. Add a dash of disappointment, a sprinkle of frustration becomes the perfect story with its ups and downs, tensions.

One of my favorite qualities Julia possessed was her ability to state things as they were, no touching-
...more
Christine
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Julia Child, and she is one of my lifetime heroes. This book was an amusing and thoughtful window into her life and thought processes.

She found her life calling for French cuisine when she was well into her thirties, and approached the topic with curiosity, discipline, and fierce energy. I think this means that there is still hope for me to find my true career and inspiration.

If you want to learn how to do something, or change your life, it requires hard work. And visiting the kitchen o
...more
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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.

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“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” 233 likes
“...no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.” 148 likes
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