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The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  2,563 ratings  ·  292 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
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Hardcover, 290 pages
Published October 23rd 2007 by Alfred A. Knopf
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  2,563 ratings  ·  292 reviews


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Brina
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food, memoirs, france
One of my roles in the group Retro Chapter Chicks here on goodreads is to promote the Remarkable Woman of the Month. For Women’s History Month, I have taken this a step further by featuring the Remarkable Woman of the Week. Last week in my research, I was lead to Judith Jones, a longtime editor for Knopf Books, who was born on March 10, 1924. As a woman who rose to senior editor at a major publishing house during an era when women were content to lead lives as housewives, I was intrigued to find ...more
Maggie
Sep 15, 2009 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
Kristine
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
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Sarah Tittle
Jan 08, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 patrician and slightly racist stars. I should drop it back to 3 since I didn’t want to make any of the recipes in the book but I added it back on for the shade she throws at Simone Beck and Marcella Hazan.
Cathy
Feb 20, 2009 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 al
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Kristin
Oct 24, 2008 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
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Linda
Jan 27, 2010 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
Heather Marie
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
Elizabeth Bradley
Dec 16, 2007 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.
Catherine
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
Sandra
Apr 19, 2008 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
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Diane Barnes
Oct 27, 2015 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
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Wendy
Dec 13, 2007 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
Amy B
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a different novel about female mathematicians (which has the same title) but gave it a go anyway since the library already checked it out for me. The early parts of the book where the author talks about famous chefs and the process of putting together cookbooks were interesting but the further along the book gets the more disconnected I got from the story. The author lives in a very privileged world I just can’t relate to and I got bored reading about how interesting her appar ...more
Mskarla
Jul 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I don’t think she’s a great writer, but if you’re into food, chefs and food writers, this is a pretty compelling read because of all the people she knew and worked with.
Chris
Nov 21, 2009 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
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Katie
Jan 19, 2009 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
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Suzanne
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
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Joseph J.
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of food, travel, Julia Child and Lidid Bastianich
I didn't have to be a master chef to enjoy this book, which I gave to my mother some years ago and now have read myself after learning of Ms. Jones' death. This is a wonderful gastronomical travelogue by a woman who lead a fascinating life as editor-not just of Julia Child but her professionalism extends to the Diary of Ann Frank. Her tidbits of visiting with Paul and Julia Child in France are memorable. I loved her Christmastime trip to Hawaii. Again, my talents are proscribed by the frozen foo ...more
Athul Domichen
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
A sumptuous journey through cusines, experiments, food writing, and anecdotes of culinary giants, albeit oozing out privilege. Made me hungry, made be cook better.
Barrie
Jan 12, 2009 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
Marsha
Apr 01, 2009 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
Ellen
Mar 12, 2010 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
Tim Post
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delightful

A very enjoyable glimpse into the life of the woman who essentially made the modern transformation of American coking possible. Also, her recollection of moments and odd phrases from those she published are as warm as they are often humorous and sometimes even a little salty. You'll want to read this several times as the detail is as intricate as it is abundant and easily missed in her subtle, unassuming style.
Pdxstacey
Feb 28, 2008 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.
Chris
Jan 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, food
Probably would have got four stars if I hadn't read MFK Fisher recently - it's enjoyable, but slight.
Teresa
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's taken me 10 years to read this book! I just recently came across this book while organizing my shelf and forgot it was here. My sister got this book for me in addition to the Julia Child Master the Art of French Cooking. At the time, I didn't invest my time in cooking, not like I do now. Therefore, it was a perfect time for me to pick up the book and start reading.

An ok book about an amazing editor who's done more for food and new discoveries as Michael Pollen has for advocated healthy foo
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Paulette
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Before I went vegetarian, I was a foodie and I would have appreciated this memoir more then than I did today. I believe you can still be a foodie because there are so many lovely non-animal involved meals you can indulge in (I have dozens and dozens of cookbooks to prove this), but I found it depressing to read about what Judith Jones ate and that she never ever really understood, for example, why so many people reacted with hostility to the story she wrote about her neighbor killing a beaver be ...more
Ellis Steinhoff
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it
The title of this testament to one woman's appetite comes from Brillat-Savarin, who wrote of a 10th muse—Gasterea, goddess of the pleasures of taste. Many food writers would argue that this 10th muse is actually Judith Jones. For nearly half a century, Jones, an editor of literary fiction and a senior vice-president at Knopf, has served as midwife to some of the most culturally significant cookbooks of our time, introducing readers to newly discovered talents like Julia Child, Marcella Hazan, Ma ...more
Barbara
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: food, paris, memoir
More than a soupçon disappointed with this title given that it’s been on my TBR shelf for over 8 years. I was familiar with Jones due to her connections with M.K.F. Fisher and Julia Child. Surprisingly for someone who was a book editor, Jones’s book is bland and impersonal. She writes as if from a distance. Paris, Julia Child, and James Beard were enough to keep me reading, though. Near the end of the book she relates the story about having a beaver that had taken up residence in her pond shot ( ...more
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Judith B. Jones 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, and edited ma ...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.” 4 likes
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