Bon Appetit: The delicious life of Julia Child by Jessie Hartland

Bon Appetit: The delicious life of Julia ChildThe upcoming holidays are about a lot of different things but the one aspect that ties them together is food and when you’re—at least I’m—talking about food, the name of Julia Child has a tendency to enter the conversation. I’m a longtime devotee. My father gave me my first copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking when I was in high school. I watched her on black and white TVright after the demise of the dinosaurs. After reading and thoroughly enjoyable Bon Appetit!, I learned that we also have several other things in common. Like Julia, I’m a terrible typist. Right out of college she tried to get a job at Newsweek magazine but flunked the typing test. I just plain flunked typing. Secondly, we both had the good luck to marry charming and witty men who happen to look like Stanley Tucci. And then there’s the food thing….

Speaking of the food thing, one really good aspect of Bon Appetit! is that it covers all the areas of Julia’s life from her growing up years in Pasadena, CA to her last years in Cambridge, MA. It’s about what made her special not just the food thing. I think that kids, really all readers, want to know about a personality’s early years. We want to know that they’re like us, and that with luck and a fair amount of perspiration, we might have a book written about us someday. I’ve read My Life in France, Julia’s autobiography, but I never knew she was a daredevil , a prankster or a mischievous tomboy. She never mentioned that stuff and it’s too bad because I think it only serves to make her more likable.

That’s what Jessie Hartland does in Bon Appetit!, she’s makes Julia even more likable—if that’s possible. Her “homespun” illustrations capture Julia’s zest for living and her knack for not always getting everything just right—think fish dropped on the floor or soufflés falling before millions of viewers. Hartland’s simple French phrases scattered throughout the text add veracity and fun to the story plus a certain “je ne sais quoi.” All in all, it’s a great read.

My only quibble with the book is that some of the pages, especially the recipe for crepes at the end, are a bit too crowded. There’s just too much fun stuff to see and it can be distracting. However, if I’m going to be distracted I can’t think of a better book—or subject– to be distracted by.

Posted by: Eileen

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