My Life in France
Child, J. & Prud'Homme, A. (2006). My Life in France. USA: Knopf
My husband is 'part French' by virtue of many years lived in France and I have spent a lengthy amount of time there myself and expect to do so again in future. So I have a bit of a thing for English-speaker in France memoirs and My Life in France is one of several in my TBR Challenge for the year. This autobiography of Julia Child (partly ghost written by her great-newphew Alex Prud'Homme) follows her journey in France from the moment her and her husband Paul step off the ship when he takes up a diplomatic posting until she finally leaves France for good, long after her husband's death, when it is realised that she can no longer make the trip or maintain their property there.
Frankly, this is a gorgeous book. The narrative is loose at best and really it is no more than a series of anecdotes, told in the frank, honest and exuberant way one has come to expect of the beloved food writer and presenter Julia Child. Her personality is larger than life, a fact that really shows on the page. The fact that it has been ghost written is not at all noticeably - the writing feels entirely authentic to a familiar Julia, which is probably due to the fact that the ghost writer is a close relative who knows her well. Julia's love for both France and her husband shine through every paragraph of the book and it is truly a love letter to both. Her descriptions of their French apartments (horrible, and in my experience extremely typically French) made me laugh out loud!
My Life is France is also an extremely interesting piece from a historical point of view. Few realise that Julia and Paul first landed in France barely a year after the end of WWII, when France was still deeply in the midst of recovery (there was still severe rationing for example). Without concentrating on too many details, a vibrant and sometimes sad portrait of post-war France is built up by Julia's recollections.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one and would recommend it to anyone looking for an honest life-in-France memoir (if one not entirely relevant to modern day France).