“Upon reflection, I decided I had three main weaknesses: I was confused (evidenced by a lack of facts, an inability to coordinate my thoughts, and an inaility to verbalize my ideas); I had a lack of confidence, which caused me to back down from forcefully stated positions; and I was overly emotional at the expense of careful, ‘scientific’ thoughts. I was thirty-seven years old and still discovering who I was.”
I knew next to nothing about Julia Child before reading this book, and I have never been to France–but I do love memoirs. Through the pen of Alex Prud’homme, it feels as though Child herself is sitting in a cafe with you, spinning yarns about her travels, challenges, and proud moments.
My Life in France recounts Child’s experiences moving to France for the first time with her husband in the 1940s and discovering her passion for cooking. Through experimenting with recipes at home, attending cooking classes, and frequenting local markets, Child immerses herself in the world of French cuisine. From there she takes us on her cookbook-writing journey and through the blossoming of her television show The French Chef. All the while we’re given quaint, charming glimpses into her daily life.
I adored the tone and atmosphere of this memoir: conversational, witty, and light-hearted without compromising its bittersweet themes of aging, family struggles, and figuring out one’s identity. Child’s contagious curiosity shone through, as did her humility, grit, and work ethic. France also became a sort of character in and of itself — a spiritual center around which Child revolved. Child’s descriptions of French streets and shores and sights brings the reader into those memories right alongside her.
Child’s story is inspiring and, to me, comforting. Sometimes the media feels saturated with stories of late-teens and twenty-somethings realizing their passion and putting their dreams into action. It’s refreshing to read about this happening a bit later on in life, how you might not even know what you’re truly passionate about for years to come. In this way, Child’s steady stream of excitement and enthusiasm for life jumps off the page. You get the sense that she was always open to trying new things.
All in all, My Life in France is an engaging, charming memoir that I’m already looking forward to rereading someday. Whether you enjoy travel, food, learning more about Julia Child, or simply reading memoirs in general, I highly recommend this one.
Thoughts on this book? Recommendations for other great memoirs? I’d love to know.
Take care xx
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