I was not familiar with Julia Child and her recipes till last year, when I came across a copy of Julie & Julia in a bookstore quite by chance. I read up on Julie & Julia, and found the story quite entrancing. It would be interesting to know more about chef Julia Child and her life before reading Julie & Julia, I felt. So, when I found a copy of Julia Child’s autobiographical account My Life In France, I picked it up almost immediately. Yes, I am on a memoir- and non-fiction-reading spree these days!
My Life In France is the story of Julia Child and her husband Paul, in the France of the 1940s. This was long before she became a famous cookbook author and TV personality, when she was not even familiar with the tastes of French recipes. Julia has written, in co-ordination with Alex Prud’homme, of how she accompanied Paul to France in the 1940s, after he got a government job there, and how clueless she was about the French, the cuisines and tastes of the place. Slowly and gradually, Julia began to fall in love with France and its lovely food. She mastered French cooking, and authored a cookbook that went on to become world-renowned: Mastering The Art Of French Cooking. My Life In France is largely about Julia’s social life with Paul, and about writing Mastering The Art Of French Cooking.
Sadly, I did not fall in love with this book, as I had expected to. I admired Julia for the strong, determined person she was, and the tremendous, sincere efforts she put in to write Mastering The Art Of French Cooking, but somehow, I couldn’t really feel the character. Her trials and tribulations, her experiences, somehow did not become mine in the course of reading the book. I felt disappointed when I finished the book.
The book is quite voluminous, and I felt the length could have been cut down a bit. I would have loved to read more about France, its people and of Julia’s experiences as she explored France. However, the book seems to overly focus on her writing her first cookbook and its sequel, and of her lunch and dinner engagements with Paul.
The book speaks of Julia falling in love with France over a period of time, but it does not describe the process of Julia falling in love with France. I think that is what disappointed me the most, as I was, subconsciously, looking forward to read that. I would have been able to relate to that much, myself having relocated to Bangalore from Ahmedabad.
Overall, I had an average experience while reading this book, and did not feel greatly touched by it. But then, maybe, it was just me.