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Tag Archives: memoirs

Julia Child’s My Life in France

Last week I spent an intense four-and-a-half days in Seattle at a Public Library Association Strategic Planning “Boot Camp.” More on that later–for now I’ll tell about the reading that I took along for my flights there and back, “My Life in France” by Julia Child.

I haven’t seen the movie, “Julie and Julia” yet, but I have read “Julie and Julia,” by Julie Powell which I enjoyed immensely last year. I was primed for reading “My Life in France.”

My plane was late leaving Lincoln by at least three hours, and it helped that “My Life in France” was an excellent companion. I’d describe its style as conversational. Child recalls her impressions of France, of food, and of people, so well. It’s hard to believe that when she moved to France with her husband in 1948, she didn’t speak the language, and she knew almost nothing about cooking. She tells how she came to be in love with France. I’m still impressed with the way that she chose to embrace the culture, to get out there and interact with people even though communication was a struggle. She describes her first meal with her husband in France, and how it opened her eyes to a whole new way of thinking about food.

I became so intrigued with that part of her journey that it seemed almost jarring when they were once again living in the United States in the 1960s and she was becoming famous for her first book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” and her cooking shows on educational television.

This book reads quickly. I was sorry to come to its end.

I would expect that other lovers of memoir would enjoy it, as would various Francophiles, cooks, and world travelers.

A Tale of Two Memoirs

A few weeks ago I actually had some time at home to read! I had picked up two books (from Lincoln City Libraries, of course) to keep me in good reading, “Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World” by Mary Pipher, and “DV” by Diana Vreeland.

I don’t think that I could have chosen two more different memoirs by women.  “DV” in breathless language tells all about the globetrotting, namedropping, stylish life of a fashion maven extraordinaire.  With almost not a single moment of self-reflection, she romps through her life story. I find her life on the cutting edge of twentieth century fashion fascinating, and I think that I’ll look for a well-crafted biography that will provide a little more context, and a lot more evaluation of her impact.

On the other hand, “Seeking Peace” is all self-reflection. Mary is a friend, and I’ve heard her speak about this book, so I knew what I was in for. I found her description of her Great Plains childhood and youth, framed by the meltdown she experienced in 2002, absorbing and familiar in the best way. Although she tells an excellent story, she uses each experience to learn something about herself, to think about why what happened in her life at certain points, came to be so important so many years later.  When I consider the kind of public success that Lincoln’s own Pipher has experienced, I’m delighted that she opened this window into her personal story.

I loved the crazy contrast of reading these two such different books back-to-back. It’s one example of why memoir continues to be my favorite genre.