Published: my edition published June 2009
Source: I bought this one
Julia McWilliams was over thirty years old when she met and fell in love with Paul Childs. She couldn't cook, she couldn't speak French and she wasn't much of a foodie. Yet two years after the couple married in 1946, Julia found herself moving to France. She quickly set out to remedy both her language and cooking shortcomings. She roamed the streets of Paris, learning the language, local customs, and, mostly importantly, the food.
"This is the kind of food I had fallen in love with; not trendy, souped-up fantasies, just something very good to eat. It was classic French cooking, where the ingredients have been carefully selected and beautifully and knowingly prepared."
Paul and Julia spent the last years of their lives in the U.S. where Julia filmed her television shows in her own kitchen, a kitchen that became so famous itself that, when Childs moved to California, it was moved to the Smithsonian.
I picked this one up as a companion to Julie and Julia after seeing the movie of the same name. One of the things I loved about the movie was the back and forth between the two women's lives. I was surprised, then, to find that a lot of what was shown in the movie in the Julia parts did not actually happen. Julia didn't try her hand at hatmaking before she took cooking lessons, she didn't stumble across Simca and Louisette in the dressing room at a party, and she and her sister weren't close. I found myself repeatedly distracted by comparing the book and the movie.
Paul and Julia Childs certainly led an interesting life and the book portrays a fascinating look at Europe post-World War II. I can understand why so many people have enjoyed this book but I had some problems with it. Childs seems to have been under the belief that her readers also know French, frequently referring to things only by their French name or including sentences in French. How do I grasp how wonderful your meal was if I have no idea what the name of the dish means? I sometimes felt the book grew repetitious and often more detailed than was necessary. I can't say that I liked Julia very much. She was quick to point out the flaws of friends and family alike but never seemed willing to acknowledge her own faults. Still, I admire her tenacity, her passion and her deep love for her husband.