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February 16, 2011

The Julia Child Primer on a Life Well Lived

Sometimes something about the title of a book or a short description I hear about it tells me that I just need to read that book. Like there is something in there that I need to hear, some way something is expressed that is going to mean something important for me.


This sort of intuition led me to read The Seven Storey Mountain, one of the most influential books I’ve ever read, and now it’s led me to My Life in France by Julia Child, which has had a similar effect.  I already have two friends in line to read it, and I want to give a copy to just about everyone I know.  It’s that good.


Like a lot of folks I’ve spoken with, I became interested in Julia Child’s life after seeing the movie Julie & Julia.  In the film, Child seemed so buoyant, joyful, and determined, and like the kind of person you just want to be around.  Reading her book has only made me more certain that I would have loved to have known this singular lady.  Because that’s not possible, I am grateful to have this insight into her experiences as a woman, a wife, a cook, and an author.


My Life in France is more than a memoir of time lived in a foreign country—it is a unique and liberating coming-of-age story (the book starts when Child is thirty-seven years old), a real and honest love story, and the chronicle of one of the most significant publications of the twentieth century.  It’s also filled with gorgeous food and stunning scenes of France and other countries. This book is everything I want in a good read, most everything important to a life well lived.  And, as you might expect, there are a number of simple lessons about life that flow organically from Child’s memoir.


I’m sure I can’t express these nuggets of wisdom as eloquently as Child and her co-author (her nephew, Alex Prud’homme).  But as much for my sake to keep these things in mind as for my desire to share them with you, here’s a primer on what I’ve learned from Julia Child:


–       Work diligently to do things the right way.  The rewards of honestly and fully putting your mind to something are unparalleled.

–       Having a partner that encourages you—and that you encourage—is one of life’s greatest blessings.  Appreciate it fully, and always put that relationship first (my parents taught me this, too).

–       Don’t make excuses (I really don’t mean to quote Wedding Crashers here, but I think I just did!).  Do things to your best ability, and when something doesn’t turn out as planned, make the best of it, keep on moving forward, and most of all, learn from it.

–       Good food and good friends are two of the greatest joys in life—enjoy them!


And if I may offer a final piece of advice of my own: read this book!  Then call me afterward, and let’s giddily discuss our newfound inspiration and lease on life!

  1. Rebecca says:

    I loved the book too! I loved that she never apologizes for her food. I was thinking the other day as I watched Julie & Julia {again} that I tend to apologize for everything…even when I don’t mean to! When people walk into my house I immediately begin to apologize for it being a mess, even if it isn’t! When I cook I apologize for it being to spicy, or not spicy enough. It’s ridiculous really….I think I’m going to work on this! Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  2. runnerwriter says:

    Loved this book! I was so inspired by her energy and determination. I liked that you listed what you learned from your reading–that’s a great practice for a reader…I just may adopt it. 🙂 ~K

    • Thanks! Last year I started keeping a book journal–just about 250 words after I finish a book to reflect on it. When I don’t have someone reading the same thing alongside me, I’ve found it’s a great way to reflect on what I’ve read and help what I’ve learned to stick. I’m happy to share this entry with you!

  3. […] Life in France – I loved this book so much I wrote a whole post about it. Julia Child’s autobiography/memoir is filled with simple wisdom that starts in the kitchen and […]

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