Book Review: As Always, Julia

book review

Happy Friday!  Join me today to celebrate “food, friendships, and the making of a masterpiece” through my book review: As Always, Julia edited by Joan Reardon.

I have been fascinated with Julia Child for a very long time, and looked forward to reading this book which is composed of the letters between Julia and Avis Devoto, and writing a book review.

Actually, this is a great time to celebrate this book and the lessons we learn from it…which are actually more about friendship than French cooking.

Next week includes Galentine’s Day on Tuesday and Valentine’s Day on Wednesday….it is a good time to think about the friends we love the most.

Joan Reardon, the book editor, is a culinary historian and cookbook author. She has done a masterful job of organizing the letters and presenting them to us as if we are also a part of the conversations.

I resonated with this line from the Wall Street Journal review: 

These letters offer a glimpse of how the truly great can merge heart and soul in the pursuit of excellence.”

So, please join me for this book review as I simply tell you the lessons I learned from As Always, Julia.

BOOK REVIEW: AS ALWAYS, JULIA: LESSON ONE

book review

LESSON ONE: DO MORE

The story begins in 1952 when Julia wrote Avis’ husband a letter in response to an article he wrote for Harper’s about “Knives.”  Specifically, his disappointment with American knives.

This resonated with Julia…even excited her.  But, as she always did…she did more than just send him a letter of support…she always took time to do more.

She sent him a French knife….as a token of her appreciation.

Avis is the one who would respond to Julia’s letter with great excitement over the gift sent, and the seeds of friendship are planted.

Julia’s heart to also send a gift with the initial letter shows she is a kind person, and a real person…fully engaged in the topic of the original thank you to Avis’ husband.

BOOK REVIEW: AS ALWAYS, JULIA: LESSON TWO

book review

 

LESSON TWO:  OPENNESS AND HONESTY

My book review must take note of the length of these letters (which are very long) and how from the start these women are open and honest with one another.

You see in this note above that they do connect through a love of food and cooking.  Yet, there Is more in the connection…two women sit at an imaginary kitchen table and laugh and cry together over life.

They become fast confidants.

Their letters constantly ask each other for help…whether it is asking an opinion or for a recipe or how to sharpen a knife….the letters always keep the conversations going.  

The letters are not short snippets as social media posts often are today, but they take time to sit down and write about their lives and desire to know about the other.

Something else I noted was from the beginning they are comfortable discussing politics with each other…before they knew each other well or had even laid eyes on each other.

They do not always agree, but seem to respect the opinions of the other and continue to discuss politics throughout their relationship.

There is no fear to bring it up, such as we have existing today.

As we read and watch them go through creating the cook book together,  we really see nothing but respect, one for the other, and no hesitation to ask…what do you think?

I was truly amazed knowing how busy Julia Child was at this time that she would sit down so often and pen long letters to Avis.

In just her second letter to Julia, Avis is honest about needing rest and how she is dispirited after a hard winter.  Early openness and honesty always encourages a friendship.

 

BOOK REVIEW: AS ALWAYS, JULIA: LESSON THREE

book review

LESSON THREE: DEDICATION AND PERSEVERANCE

Friendships grow over dedication to one another and perseverance through the tasks and trials of life.

Working on the cookbook together and later the television show, Avis & Julia become dedicated to one another and persevere through sharing life’s challenges together.

The did better at keeping their friendship alive than many of us do who just send an occasional text by phone to say…miss you, hope you are well.

It took dedication to sit down and write some of these lengthy letters.

It is enjoyable and even convicting to watch their friendship.

And if you are like me, you will enjoy conversations on olive oils, shallots, eggs, etc.  The letters are the behind-the-scenes footage of Mastering the Art of French Cooking….so to speak.

BOOK REVIEW: AS ALWAYS, JULIA: BEEF BOURGUIGNON

book review

After a day of reading and thinking about a book review, I had Beef Bourguignon on the brain.

However, I only wanted to use what I had on hand…so here is what I did (kind of a beef stew) and it was very good:

In a slow cooker, I placed:

About two pounds of beef stew meat….(mine was frozen)

1/8 cup of worcestershire sauce

2 bay leaves

1 cup of sliced baby bella mushrooms

4 large fresh carrots chopped

1 large baking potato, chopped

Large can of Mushroom Soup

one package of dry onion soup

4 garlic cloves

2 chopped onions

2 cups of red wine…I used what I had on hand and was open

1/4 tsp of pepper…Mr. B added more on his later

1/4 tsp of salt

All of this was in the slow cooker overnight…and it tasted very good the next day.

Inspired by Julia….but not her recipe!

I just want to say that many of you have been joining me here for a very long time…and I consider you friends.

Some of us meet daily…and some have shared their lives and struggles here.

Yes, we connect over our love of clothing and looking and feeling our best in this second half of life.

There are several of you that I believe if I showed up in your cities, we could meet for lunch and have a glorious time.

Please know that I think of you (this blog community) often and pray for you…and I am so glad you are here.  Many of you encourage me as Avis encouraged Julia.

I consider you friends as they were…though, like those two, we have not met face to face.

Thank you for being here…I hope to see you tomorrow.  Please leave any comments you like on the book review…..

STAY STRONG & KEEP SMILING!

 

By Pamela Lutrell

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I have tried to include the brands most shopped by this audience, but sometimes I miss one of your favorites.

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book review

14 Comments

  1. Thanks for the review. I look forward to reading the book. Reading the letters between people is such an intimate glimpse into a relationship. Another lovely set of correspondence can be discovered in “Winston and Clementine: The Personal Letters of the Churchills” by Mary Soames. By Irving Stone, “Those Who Love” reveals the commitment between John and Abigail Adams.

  2. Thank you for sharing your interest in this book. Years ago I read a book about her, don’t remember the title, but it was very interesting and entertaining to read. I also would enjoy the books Connie recommended. I’m putting these on my Audible book list. I hope they are on Audible. Listening to books has become one of my favorite pastimes. Being disabled, I do a lot of sitting and reflecting. Where Julia and Avis were able to talk about politics and disagree sometimes, they were able to maintain their relationship. I lost my dearest friend of over 65 years to conspiracy theories and guns rights and far right leanings of her husband. She bought into it right along with him. We lost touch. I still have a hole in my heart at losing her. Friends are worth more than gold. I feel like I am making friends in this community. That you Pam for your openness and true kindness. I’m here every day reading your words.

  3. Thank you for the review. I will look for this book. Mary Soames is the Churchill’s daughter. That would be good to read as well.

  4. Great choice! I recommend the Irving Stone book about the Adams’ letters as well. He’s fallen out of favor some, so it may be hard to find in libraries these days.

  5. I love Julia. I will see if my library can get it. They found A Woman Makes a Plan for me. That is quite an interesting story. Maeve’s recommendation about Abigail Adam’s is a jewel. It is amazing that all their letters were kept. It was made into a lovely movie with Giamatti and Laura Linney.

  6. Pam, this sounds like a lovely book, and I look forward to reading it. Julia is the best! The stew sounds like just what I need to make this week. I consider you a special friend! 🥰

  7. I finally had some time to read this. I’ve always liked Julia Child and have made her Boeuf Bourguignon. It was very good and now I want to try to make your recipe. It does look easier to make.
    I like what you said about friendship and feel a friendship with you. We have moved around a lot and it has been hard for me to make friends. But I do have a few close ones but they live far from me. But if I’m ever in their area we meet up and it’s just so easy to take up where we left off.
    I might have to read this book!,

  8. I really enjoyed the book …predominantly told in letters. Good friends are those like you said…pick up right where we left off. Of course, you & I are friends!

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