This book is a compilation of the letters written between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, Julia's pen-pal and longtime friend. We follow Julia as she travels the world with her husband who works abroad for the U.S. State Department. These letters detail not only the development of her famous work, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but also her experiences with McCarthyism, writing for an American audience obsessed with 'being modern' and taking the work out of every household chore. Through Julia and Avis, we have a glimpse in an America on the verge of political, social, and gastronomic change.
I will be honest: I took me awhile to finish this one. It is long, detailed and doesn't really have chapter divisions. However, the picture these letters paint is worth the time and effort. Julia and Avis discuss fascinating cooking methods, and it is wonderfully interesting to read of the inner-political workings of the 50's. With McCarthyism at full force, Julia and Avis show us the climate, and also the little heard about opposition to him. Of course, we also follow Julia through he journey to write and publish her book first with Houghton Mifflin and then through Knopf publishing. That in itself would be enough for one book.
I most appreciate that this book has brought Julia Child to life. Of course, her own memoir did a remarkable job of this, but that was unavoidably planned, outlined and edited. This book gives you the sense of being a fly on the wall and hearing all that Julia and Avis shared with each other. In effect, that is what you are doing. You read the happiness, frustration, elation, melancholy, and all the raw emotion in-between.
This book is a treasure that I cannot wait to finish devouring. If only I didn't have to work, write articles, and generally have a life outside of books!
P.S. I'm not a huge fan of this new Pinterest embedding system. I'll work on a new way to post pictures of book covers for books I read.