"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!"
I love Julie and Julia (the movie... Although come to think of it, the book too!) so so much and it was only a matter of time before I read book that formed the basis of the 'Julia' part of the movie to complete the circle of Julie and Julia excellence. I didn't really know what to expect- the Julia parts of the movie seemed to mostly concentrate on Julia Child's cooking life (which makes sense) and this book seemed way longer than that. Still, I strode onwards into the unknown, and... you know, read the book.
And my God. It was such a treat. I just... I feel like Julia Child is pretty well known in America even now (I could easily be wrong) and I had literally never heard of her before I watched Julie and Julia, so that was all I had to go off of in terms of her personality and ideas and way of speaking (or, you know, writing, in this case) and I'm sure Meryl Streep did her right, but somehow Julia seemed even... MORE in this book. More charming, more lovely, more cheerful, more optimistic and positive, just a whole lot MORE than anything I had expected of her. I mean, shit you guys, I think I kind of love her?
So here's the deal with this book. The first half is pretty much the 'Julia Child story' as presented in the movie- Julia and Paul Child move to France, she decides to learn how to cook, sets up her own cooking classes and writes a cookbook. It's all pretty great, and Nora declined to mention that she ALSO became fluent in french (in the movie she's shown as being constantly a bit hopeless at it) AND that she maybe wasn't so desperate for a baby as the movie makes her out to be (BAD Nora). But also, it's even BETTER than it is in the movie because there are all these extra stories and anecdotes and things that just make a whole life rather than serving the agenda for a movie storyline (I mean, I get that it's necessary! I'm just trying to make it clear that the book is excellenter).
And then there's the second half of the book which has become one of my favourite things from anything ever. Here's the thing: Julia Child was 49 years old when Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published. This was really the point where her career took off (and it's what the second half of this book mainly focuses on) and where she became kind of the family breadwinner as Paul considered retirement. Her TV show, the French chef debuted when she was 51. I can't even begin to tell you how comforting this is to me, but I'll try. I feel like we live in a time when there's a pressure to do everything when you're young, and in fact where age is considered a complete disadvantage and the young are kind of put up on a pedestal (think about this: The President of the USA was 47 when he came into office. The UK Prime Minister is under 50. This never used to happen, right?)
And the thing is, I know I can't just time travel back to the late forties and early fifties (and I wouldn't really want to) but it's still so soothing to read that this woman, at the age of 36 when this book begins, still doesn't know what she wants to do with her life. It gave me some kind of... I don't know if hope is the right word, but just the idea that it's ok to not always know what you want to do, and that, if you're really lucky, you get to figure out what it is at some point and everything will be awesome. I'm not expecting to be a famous tv chef, I hasten to add, but reading about the success of someone who didn't even start being successful (at least professionally) until she was 49 really does give me, yeah, ok I'll say it, hope.
Also she gave me the dream of living in Provence in a little house with my imaginary husband (Skarsgard, natch) just down the road from Frances and her imaginary husband (Henry Cavill) where we all laugh and talk and Frances and I write books together and drink and also eat food and stare at our imaginary husbands. This led to a very fun afternoon of daydreaming and I have just realised that I sound insane SO I hasten to add that this is what Julia and Paul Child did with Simone Beck (co-author of Mastering the Art...) and her husband. And it. Sounds. So. Awesome. And is definitely an important part of my future success, even if the South of France has become totally commercialised and probably spoilt now. It's still a lovely dream.
So yeah. Apparently I've just gone on about why this book was good for me (come on, I do that all the time, and you know it!) but it really really is great- like an even better version of Julia Child than even Meryl Streep could give us (I KNOW) and time well spent in the company of a lovely lovely person. Who could ask for anything more than that from a book?