Monday, February 12, 2007

My Life in France

Unfortunately I haven't yet had that life, but at least I can read about someone who has. This is the well-reviewed and much talked about book by Julia Child's nephew that was written in collaboration with her in her last years. It's a book she'd wanted to write for many years but just hadn't gotten around to, and when her writer nephew offered to help get it done, she jumped at the chance.

Reviewing the voluminous letters she and her husband, the writer and artist Paul Child, had written to various friends and relatives while Paul worked for the American embassy in Paris and Marseille, Alex Prud'homme has done a marvelous job of telling their story in Julia's unforgettable voice. Forthright and funny, she goes from being an insecure new bride plopped in a strange land where she doesn't know the language to an indefatigable champion of the country's people and culture. It also tells the story of this loving but unlikely couple, Julia over six feet tall with horsey good looks and Paul a shorter, bald man ten years her senior.

A much more concise work than the hideously edited but fascinating biography, "Appetite for Life" by Noel Riley Fitch, this is a good introduction to a very human Julia Child before she became a revered (and caricatured) American icon.

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