"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?
Dammit, Laura! I had this book in my to-donate pile even though I hadn't read it yet... and now it's going back on my shelf to eventually be read at some point. YOU WIN.ReplyDelete
YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Dude, it's so good and Julia is SO lovely and you totally won't regret it. READ IT NOW!!Delete
I loved this one! I just felt like Julia Child would have been such an incredible person to hang out with. I completely agree with the whole age 49 start of the career thing being inspiring. It's such a wonderful reminder that you can always do something new. You can always tackle a new challenge.ReplyDelete
Ughhhh, I would LOVE to hang out with her! In Paris! And make her cook me things! And she's definitely inspiring in the never being too old to do new things way, but when I read her thoughts at 36 at not finding her niche yet, I felt better as a 24 year old not having found my own, too. It's just one of the most comforting things!Delete
This was a lovely review, and thank you for reminding me that I REALLY need to read this book! My grandmother met Julia in a grocery store in Dallas one time, and it was one of her favorite stories. She was absolutely thrilled to meet such a delightful celebrity.ReplyDelete
You do! Everyone needs to read this book! I can't even deal with how jealous I am of your grandma right now, but I'm so happy that she genuinely was as delightful as she seems to be. I just genuinely love her now.Delete
I know that this is a winner in my TBR stack, especially since the movie is great and in your review, you said that "the book is excellenter". That's definitely got to count for something! Also, I used to watch her cooking shows as a child - her liveliness and laugh are infectious!!ReplyDelete
It really is excellenter! I do love the movie, but I like that the book also talks about what it was like for her when she actually got famous (or, at least, well known) as well as what it was like before that. I LOVE THAT YOU WATCHED HER AS A CHILD! I really wish that I had, but you know, English. I mean, I'm assuming The French Chef has been shown on English TV at some point? But I think Julia really belongs to the US (and to meeeeeee!)Delete
I love the parts of Julie & Julia that SOLELY deal with Julia Child. Those are delightful.ReplyDelete
They are indeed (and this book is like that only BETTER) but you don't like the Julie parts?! Actually, I can see how that would happen, I just really like Amy Adams.Delete
"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 LOVE THIS PARAGRAPH WITH ALL THE LOVE.ReplyDelete
I'm extraordinarily glad that I found a copy of this recently and snapped it up like an... alligator? Run with it dude... because it sounds wonderful. I was slightly disappointed by the Julie bits of the movie (I think because the book has more humour, maybe) but I ADORED the Julia parts, and not just because I kinda fancied Stanley Tucci in it. Want. To. Read. Now.
Awwwwwww, I love YOU with all the love. But also, I mean, yeah. WE MIGHT BE AWESOME OLDER PEOPLE EVEN IF WE'RE NOT AMAZING WHIZ KIDS!Delete
Read iiiiiiiiit, it is so lovely. I read about 100 pages without stopping in direct sunlight and burnt both of my shoulders, but it was WORTH IT for all the loveliness it gave me.
(What is all this nonsense about people not liking the Julie parts of the movie?! I mean, I LOVED the Julia bits because, you know, MERYL and also awww Julia, but with the Julie bits I kind of felt like... Oh, hello Julie, I am you. Only Julie at the beginning without any of the development bits. But now I maybe thing I could be Julia? Whatever, I just love that whole movie.)
You had never heard of Julia Child before Julie & Julia? What the wha? I wouldn't say that I knew a lot about her, but I feel like I always knew of her. My grandma used to talk about her a lot. Especially about the fact that she was human and sometimes made mistakes on the show and that was cool.ReplyDelete
You've made me want to read this. I mean really, you solidified it with a better Julia Child than even Meryl could give us. I haven't even seen the movie yet but still HIGH PRAISE
I KNOW RIGHT?! I feel like I really really really vaguely had an idea who she was before the movie (like maybe someone mentioned her in an article somewhere else, or something) but yeah, I didn't really know who she was. And also I'm way jealous that I DIDN'T grow up knowing about her and her awesomeness!Delete
I KNOW RIGHT?! I never even knew that someone could be a better human than the Meryl Streep version of them, but it's true! Amazing.
I too love reading about people who don't achieve their dream or figure out what they really like until later in life. I do feel there is a lot of pressure to know what you want to be at a young age, and to have the perfect job in your twenties, which leads to disappointment for many, I think.ReplyDelete