Daily Archives: April 1, 2011

As Always, Julia Book Review

The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto

It all started with a Harper’s Weekly article about paring knives.  Harvard professor and historian, Bernard DeVoto, wrote an article discussing the differences between American and French knives.  Little did he know that this little article would be the catalyst for a friendship that lasted more than 40 years and expanded well over 3,500 miles.

In 1952, Paul and Julia Child were living in Paris.  Julia was hard at work on a French cookbook project and was both taking and giving classes in culinary studies.  When she stumbled upon Bernard DeVoto’s piece on knives in Harper’s Weekly, she loved it so much that she sent him a set of beautiful French knives, along with a letter expressing her love of the article.  Since Bernard was often busy with his various teaching and writing projects, his wife Avis would take on the task of writing back to his fans.  When she received Julia’s gift, she wrote back immediately expressing her gratitude…and so it began.

As Always, Julia is a hefty collection of 200+ letters Julia and Avis wrote to each other during the process of trying to publish Mastering the Art of French Cooking. While this beast of a cookbook was the fuel that got their friendship going, these two women quickly became the best of friends, discussing everything from politics to family quarrels, recipe suggestions for a dinner party to sex tips and celebrity gossip.  While this isn’t the complete collection of letters, it’s enough to give Julia Child fans a glimpse into the history of this epic book’s creation.  Avis was instrumental in getting this project off the ground, and lovers of My Life in France, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and even the recent movie, Julie and Julia, will greatly enjoy this treat of a book and may even find themselves feeling like “one of the girls”.

NEXT WEEK: Dancer.  Philanthropist.  Actress.  Mother.  Friend.  Wife.  Survivor.  Healer.  Giver.  Humanitarian.  How one woman could fill all these rolls is beyond me.  Next week, we’re going to take a closer look at her life…not through the camera, but through the eyes of one the one person who understood her more than anyone…her son.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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