August-September's Book: My Life in France, by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Julia Child is widely credited with single handedly teaching America about the pleasures of good cooking with her groundbreaking cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show The French Chef. She would have turned 100 years old on August 15, and to celebrate her contributions to cooking and culture, the Leonard Lopate Show Book Club selection for August-September is her memoir, My Life in France, written with her grand-nephew Alex Prud’homme. He joins us to talk about her life, how she learned to cook in France, and how she became a brilliant teacher and writer. When she passed away in 2004, she and Alex were working on the book, about what Julia Child described as the best years of her life, and Alex finished it and published it in 2006.

Join the conversation—leave your comments and questions below!


Alex Prud'homme

Comments [12]

Doris S. from New jersey

Really enjoyed this book when I first read it and am reading it again to refresh my memory. I 'm glad to see it holds up with a second reading at least as far as I've read. I do remember that the details and constant discussion of THE BOOK and particular recipes in her letters got a bit tedious at times. . . But the descriptions of France are just wonderful and so evocative. Makes me long to go back.

Sep. 16 2012 11:54 PM
EJZ from Harding

I grew up watching Julia on Channel 13 PBS along with The Galloping Gourmet.

Julia made cooking and food preparation exciting and new to a then small boy.

While a true American Icon, truth be told, Julia's recipes were not easy to follow at the time. Especially when she sent you out for some obscure ingredient that was impossible to find in an American market at the time.

Frustrating, but at the same time intriguing. So, I kept up with it! It was fun!!


Sep. 13 2012 02:00 PM
Libby from Queens

Something I loved about the book was that Julia and Paul seemed to have a truly happy happy marriage, and it's so rare to see those. Was it true that it was so happy?

Sep. 13 2012 12:58 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

There were NO "celebrity chefs" 40 years ago of either gender, Leonard; it's a recent phenomenon: the curse of the celebrity ______ (everything!)

Sep. 13 2012 12:56 PM
Anne S. from Ridgefield, NJ

Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol I and II have been my cooking Bible for years, even though I have a library of cookbooks and I am French. "My Life in France" brought to life Julia's wonderful personality and passion. She was up front but certainly not snobbish or elitist. I am now reading Bob Spitz's "Dearie" which tells in detail her life before and with Paul, and introduces the reader to all the wonderful luminaries who were their friends, and who attended their frequent dinner parties. She is unique and the one wonderful woman who started it all. She had great intellect, always ready to learn. Fabulous life!! As Paul said, great friends, great food and wine, great conversations, what else do you need?

Sep. 13 2012 12:53 PM
Edward from Manhattan from Manhattan

Did Julia have any futher discussions with you regarding the alleged "homosexual" implcations from the McCarthy investigation of Paul. The book discusses how Paul was devasted by the entire investigation on many levels and never really recovered from the inquisition in terms of his work moving forward for the US government. But how did this effect Julia?

Sep. 13 2012 12:45 PM
Dorothy from Manhattan

I was interested in the reaction of Julia Child to Julie Powell as depicted in Julie and Julia -- I was surprised that Julia said something derogatory (never stated) about Julie and her blog. I'm aware that there are exaggerations and made up stuff in the movie, but I'm wondering...

It seemed to me that Julia, by that time in her mid-80s, might have felt threatened (for want of a better word) by the young lady. I'm curious.

I was delighted by the book and although I don't keep books any more (space), I kept that one. I love that Julia loved Paris (as do I). I wish now that I had tried to "do" Mastering the Art. <>

Sep. 13 2012 12:11 PM
Hazel Feldman from Manhattan

Glad I read the book. However, my impressions of Ms.Child diminished realizing how snobbish and elitist she was. She continually named-dropped, focusing on status, background, and accomplishments of almost every individual with whom she allowed in her circle of friends and acquaintances. Clearly she had a high opinion of herself, her abilities, and tastes. Her abilities unarguably were flawless. Tastes, on the other hand are subjective. She never failed to remind her readers of her upper middle class status and breeding and how important it was for her to have “like-minded” friendships. Her French chauvinist tendencies became tiresome.

I loved Ms. Child’s television persona; she was endearing and adorable. The film, “Julie & Julia" also depicted her as charming, capable, ambitious, but never uppity. What I loved most, was her lovely relationship she had with her devoted husband and her appreciation for wonderful foods. Her contributions will certainly influence all future cooks. So looking forward to hearing the discussion with a family member.

Sep. 12 2012 06:01 PM
Patricia from Westchester

One of the photos in My Life in France shows Paul reading a newspaper with stacks of books nearby. Another shows Julia with a shelf of books above her bed. What did they read for pleasure? Did they have favorite books? favorite authors?

Sep. 09 2012 12:19 AM
Jennie Traill Schaeffer from Newton, NJ

Your mention of this upcoming discussion prompted me to recommend this book to a book club I recently joined in Northwest NJ - I love Julia Child. I'm an artist who after seeing "Julie and Julia", created a painting called "Homage to Julia". I've started the book - it's a delight to read and feels as though she's talking right to the reader. Looking forward to your discussion!

Sep. 06 2012 11:17 AM
Susan Black from NYC

I too read the book last year. Loved it. It's one of those I could easily read again and as a matter of fact, I think I will. Looking forward to the discussion.

Aug. 24 2012 05:10 PM
Laura G.

Read the book awhile ago. It was delightful! Looking forward to the discussion.

Aug. 15 2012 08:39 PM

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