As Always Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis Devoto

I grew up, like many people, watching Julia Child happily toddling about her kitchen creating masterpieces of food with seeming ease. Of course back then I only saw her as this sweet, tough, often funny, woman who cooked up a storm, and didn’t realize her place as a “great” in the world of food. For a long time after discovering her place as a “great” I lost a little of that love for the woman from my childhood. AS ALWAYS JULIA: THE LETTERS OF JULIA CHILD AND AVIS DEVOTO has restored that love. Through this collection of letters, I found two wonderful women, Child and her mentor and friend Avis DeVoto.

Child and DeVoto met when Julia sent a fan letter to Avis’ husband Bernard DeVoto about his article on kitchen knives. Avis answered it, and the two began what would become their lifelong correspondence. It was after Child mentioned that she was working on a cookbook that DeVoto became an advocate and helped her get that first publication.

Joan Reardon has done an amazing job in collecting and editing this massive work. It had to be a daunting task, these are two chatty and opinionated woman and their correspondence covers not just food but pretty much everything that two women can talk about over the course of many years. Some readers might be surprised at the frank nature of some of their discussions, but for me, it was a chance to really get to know them and understand and their world on a very personal level.

I know the idea of reading a collection of letters might seem odd, even dry, reading to a lot of people. I would include myself with that crowd a lot of the time. I’ve read books of letters and sometimes I’ve found myself wondering just how bored some poor Victorian lady had to be to write seven pages about the dust in India. As Always Julia is nothing like that, it is more like a novel, personal, intimate and highly readable. The more I read, the more I wished I’d had a chance to know both these amazing women.

Whether or not you are a fan of Julia Child to begin with, you will be by the end. If you don’t love to cook, it doesn’t really matter, food is a big a part of the letters, but they are really about life. Take the time to read As Always Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis Devoto it is funny, frank, sad and even agonizing and worth every minute you spend getting to know Julia and Avis.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars | Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | Pages: 432 | Source: Purchased | Buy on Amazon

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