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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

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  4,419 ratings  ·  544 reviews
With her outsize personality, Julia Child is known around the world by her first name alone. But despite that familiarity, 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 Julia’s deepest thought ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published December 1st 2010 by Houghton Mifflin (first published January 1st 2010)
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) You might want to address this thought to the Goodreads Feedback group. That's the place to post it, not here, as this is not a question about the boo…moreYou might want to address this thought to the Goodreads Feedback group. That's the place to post it, not here, as this is not a question about the book.(less)

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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
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
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
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: total-books
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Dec 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
First I saw the movie Julie & Julia, then I read the book it was based on. Before then, I had never been a big fan of Julia Child. She seemed like a larger-than-life presence, a little silly (that impression may have been influenced by Dan Ackroyd's impressions of her on SNL), and mostly irrelevant to my life. Although...when I was a young newlywed, I decided I wanted to learn French cooking so I actually bought Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I and tried a couple of recipes. Sadly, ...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
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
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
This book is a treasure of a collection of letters between Julia Child and her penpal-turned-friend and close confidante, Avis DeVoto. Theirs is a friendship that's so sweet, caring, candid and supportive. Their messages span topics from cookery, social interactions, shopping, to politics. They are highly opinionated women who are not afraid to say what they think. Their writing is never boring, but amusing one way or another.

I've read several books on Julia Child, but nothing really gives a rea
Jun 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Jan 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jennifer Whiteford
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
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
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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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.


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Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
99 likes · 16 comments
“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
“Well, all I know is this—nothing you ever learn is really wasted, and will sometime be used.” 11 likes
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