Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Quick Book Review

88. My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme
This book is the charming and fascinatingly told story of Julia Child and her husband living in France. What elevates this beyond the usual food/life memoir is Child's telling of the whole picture, not just the food oriented moments. Yes, the food is there. After all, we are in France, n'est-ce pas? And this is Julia Child's story. However, just as in life, the food memories wind their way through the rest of her stories which make us understand just why she adores France. A snippet to whet your appetite.
... I had come to the conclusion that I must really be French, only no one had ever informed me of this fact. I loved the people, the food, the lay of the land, the civilized atmosphere, and the generous pace of life.

August in Paris was known as la morte-saison, "the dead season," because everybody who could possibly vacate did so as quickly as possible. A great emptying out of the city took place, as hordes migrated toward the mountains and coasts, with attendant traffic jams and accidents. Our favorite restaurants, the creamery, the meat man, the flower lady, the newspaper lady, and the cleaners all disappeared for three weeks. One afternoon I went into Nicolas, the wine shop, to buy some wine and discovered that everyone but the deliveryman had left town. He was minding the store, and in the meantime was studying voice in the hope of landing a role at the opera. Sitting next to him was an old concierge who, twenty-five years earlier, had been a seamstress for one of the great couturiers on la Place Vendome. She and the deliveryman reminisced about the golden days of Racine and Moliere and the Opera Comique. I was delighted to stumble in on these two. It seemed that in Paris you could discuss classic literature or architecture or great music with everyone from the garbage collector to the mayor.
More quick reviews can be found here and for the complete list of books read so far this year, go here.

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