julia_child1.jpg Posted by Shagatha’s Personal Assistant

Recently, two of Shagatha’s favourite bloggers, Jo Stockton and the inimitable Aggie, posted rave reviews about the book, My Life in France by Julia Child.  Shagatha loves France and food and especially French food and was quite excited to read this memoir about someone’s life in France and someone who was quite the French food foodie.

Aggie and Jo loved this book, so naturally, Shagatha was utterly prepared to love it as well. Unfortunately, she did not. Shagatha would very much like to understand what Jo and Aggie found so lovable and inspiring about Ms. Child. Shagatha found the book quite repulsive. Shagatha noticed very little about France or the French people in this book, so the title is a bit misleading.  This book is about Julia Child and her single-minded obsession with bringing her version of French food to America.

Shagatha supposes this, in itself could be viewed as inspiring – how Ms Child overcomes so many obstacles in pursuit of her vision, including friends, partners, family, publishers, etc… All of these people seem to only exist in Julia Child’s life/memoirs insofar as they help or hinder her progress.  One gets no feeling of her love or affection for any of them. She leaves her dying father to be cared for by her siblings because she’s just too busy testing recipes for her next book and feels only “relief” when he finally dies.

Ms Child also seems to pack her husband off to a nursing home as soon as he becomes infirm because she’s busy with TV appearances to look after him? This is not really explained. Shagatha wonders whatever became of poor Paul, who just slithers around the periphery of the book like a one-dimensional shadow to Julia’s overwhelming light until he is of no more use and then just vanishes from the memoir.

Shagatha found a disquieting parallel between Ms Child’s greedy devouring of people and pretty much every other living creature she encounters. Shagatha has a fairly sophisticated palate, but eating larks is quite beyond her, as is the thought of enjoying rabbit that has been marinating in its own blood for 24 hours. Ms Child’s detailed descriptions of ducks being put through a duck press or critters sliced up whilst still alive were quite revolting, particularly in light of Ms Child’s voracious anticipation of seeing them on her plate.

Yes, Julia Child is an American icon. Yes, she accomplished a great deal. Overall, though, Shagatha is perplexed about the love and inspiration apparently generated by this book.  Is Shagatha missing or not understanding something vital? She would welcome Aggie and/or Jo’s perception and/or the views of anyone else who has read this book.

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