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As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto: Food, Friendship, and the Making of a Masterpiece
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As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto: Food, Friendship, and the Making of a Masterpiece

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  4,618 ratings  ·  569 reviews
With her outsize personality, Julia Child is known by her first name alone. But how much do 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 her deepest thoughts and feelings.

This riveting correspondence chron
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published December 1st 2010 by Houghton Mifflin (first published January 1st 2010)
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The Library Lady
Apr 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-biography
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
Sep 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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,
Nov 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
4 Stars

I picked this up because I wanted to learn about the development of Julia Child's famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in her own words as it was happening. Julia's letters to her pen pal Avis DeVoto were written from France, Germany and other places in Europe during the creation of the book. Her struggles are detailed here as well as her love of everything French, interesting people she met and a few recipes she shared. Away from home during the McCarthy hearings, she wa
Dec 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
After I finished reading Karen Karbo's lovely, fun, fascinating biography of Julia Child, called Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life, I felt compelled to start reading this book, which has been on my shelf for awhile. Karen Karbo often referred to the letters between Julia Child and her friend Avis DeSoto in her book, so I thought the letters would be as lovely and fun as Karen's biography. Actually, they really weren't as fun as I thought they would be. They were oftentimes quite dark. ...more
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This intimate view of the personal letters between two dear friends really unveils so much about Julia's personality. I really feel I got to know more deeply who she was as a person, not just as the iconic figure I know her to be. It also provided an interesting viewpoint of life for a woman in the 50s and early 60s. And oh how lovely correspondence used to be (especially compared with the short-hand texts and messages of today). However, it was a lot of content to get through, and I sometimes w ...more
Margaret Perkins
Feb 01, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I did not expect to like this book but...it totally held my attention. Their friendship was so CUTE. And so many glimpses into history... I loved following the thread of it through their letters and reading about the mouthwatering recipes and all the different places Julia lived. Just beautiful!
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this close and personal look at the special friendship between Julia Child and and Avis Devoto. It was interesting to learn the depth and breadth of what it took to get Julia's books published. These two remarkable women were strong, positive role models in a time when women were only regarded as housewives. While they didn't make earth shattering discoveries or make a mark for women's rights, they were role models because they worked hard and didn't give up on achieving their goals. I h ...more
Carol  Jones-Campbell
Mar 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
“As Always, Julia” is an epistolary love story, a romance that began with a fan letter and the gift of a paring knife. The letter was to the writer and historian Bernard DeVoto, who had written in Harper’s about impossibly dull stainless-steel knives. The fan was an ambitious American cook, Julia Child, then living in Paris. The reply came from DeVoto’s wife and general factotum, Avis. Within months, she and Child had gone from “Mrs.” to “Avis” and “Julia, my pet!” Even in the 1950s, things move ...more
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a book. It’s a slow read, as it should be. Julia and Avis are formidable, warm, intelligent, resourceful, and sharply politically intelligent. They’re loyal to each other in a way that will make you want to call your best girlfriend and tell her you love her.

They defy all the stereotypes of a ‘50s housewife. They were informed, sometimes shrewd, power players behind their husbands and in their own right. Their daily struggles are so familiar. And on top of it all they carried out the nine
Dec 31, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
This was a delightful insight into Julia Child and her life with her husband, Paul, and her journey in publishing her first cookbook. The letters between Julia and Avis DeVoto details both of their lives throughout the 1950's with cooking tips, social and political upheavals in the U.S. and most of all their friendship that started "at the point of a knife". A perfect ending to my 2021 books. ...more
Julie Bestry
Mar 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 be all
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 Julia Ch
Julieann Wielga
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 Kindle
Jun 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-writing
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?
Sep 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Truly two kindred spirits! What fun it was being in the middle of this 40 year friendship. Julia and Avis couldn't sit down for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, so they were transatlantic pen pals who shared everything about their lives in these lengthy letters. All the while, Avis nurtured the development of Julia's cookbook and didn't let her give up on her vision for it when the road to finding a publisher became rocky. After reading their letters, you'll be BFFs. ...more
Jan 30, 2022 rated it really liked it
Fascinating to read the letters of these two women and their unabashed strength and opinions of the world and politics all while cheering on Julia to finish her monumental task of testing recipes for her French Cooking for US audiences. A rare peek into the post-war scene in the US and abroad as seen through the eyes of intelligent and informed women who speak of new wave housewives of the fifties, McCarthyism and how it almost destroyed our relationships with countries in Europe, book editors a ...more
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
What a fascinating and entertaining look at two intelligent, funny, and thoughtful women. I was interested in the behind-the-scenes progress of the book that became Mastering the Art of a French Cooking, but was surprised to be as interested in these ladies' daily lives and their thoughts about politics. It is really eerie how their reflections on McCarthyism mirror the current political climate. I've always liked Julia Child, and I'm so glad that I read this book, because Avis DeVoto is equally ...more
Oct 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It was not just the history of the writing of the infamous cookbook it was also an enjoyable read about the changing of the culture of the 50s (women working, food production, kitchen appliances, politics, economics) The friendship between Julia and Avis was very endearing and the world they lived in which was filled with interesting and famous people. Julia was mainly overseas in France, Germany and Norway during this time period. Their personalities were down to ear ...more
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I like to read anything about Julia Child. This book was much more personal, as it was her voice about writing and publishing Mastering The Art of French Cooking. It was most interesting that politics back then were about the same as they are now. If you really want to know about Julia Child, this is a must read.

It was wonderful to learn more about Avis DeVoto and her husband Bernard, very interesting people who were in the midst of the intellectual circles in the 1950's.
May 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book was so much fun to read. I’m a foodie so I love the process of cooking and Julia child is an inspiration. The letters between Julia and Avis are a treasure. They are at once precious and precocious. Snobby for sure. Totally fun to read. Immediately ordered “Mastering the art of French cooking”. How could I not? Read this in between other books. Very fun and makes me want to eat and cook.
Annie Lee
Really gives you a picture of the lives of two very interesting women and their interactions with food, cooking, society, politics, family, work, etc. Nicely edited.
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
These weren't just letters they were "novelettes!" I can't imagine what postage cost to mail back and forth from Europe to U.S. These two ladies were pen pals par excellence but more than that Avis Devoto made Julia Child what she was by getting her a publisher, advocating for her book, helping her test recipes, and by being a supporter and cheerleader when things got tough. ...more
Nov 24, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
Whew. This book was a bit of a slog. While I do find memoirs in this style (compiled letters) very interesting, this was just too long.

A great read for anyone intrigued by the publishing world, politics, and the wave of French cuisine in America in the 50s and 60s.

The friendship between Avis and Julia is the winning aspect overall to this memoir.
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading through the letters of pen pals Julia Child and Avis DeVoto felt like entering a world where many things were different - the politics, the finances, the culture, to some extent - but even then, that everything was familiar somehow. The letters of these two remarkable women were frank and honest, witty and sardonic. My view of myself and my life experience seemed to sharpen a bit as I read their words, as though the comments they made on their own lives were a running commentary on simil ...more
This is one of those books that I missed as soon as I finished it & may forever miss it. I want more letters!! Fascinating glimpse into friendship, talent, determination, grief, etc. I highly recommend this book. Anyone who knows me well knows that I do not cook ... I don't like or enjoy it at all, but now I want to buy the first volume and try a few things ... and I'm watching episodes of The French Chef on YouTube now. My crocheting might suffer. ...more
Tashinka Roz
Jun 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
With all due respect to Julie Powell I will take this book over hers in a heartbeat. It was so nice to find out about the real Julia. The everyday Julia. The friendship between she and Avis was a friendship that went way beyond letter writing. This book made we want to go out and by Mastering The Art of French Cooking no matter how many volumes.
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Chifems Book Club: As Always, Julia discussion questions 1 8 Mar 29, 2012 09:44AM  

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Joan Reardon is the author of four previous books, including M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, and Alice Waters, which was nominated for a Julia Child Award. She lives in Lake Forest, Illinois.

(from http://us.macmillan.com/author/joanre...)

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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)” 14 likes
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