22 March 2011

letters between ladies

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child & Avis Devoto
Food, Friendship & The Making of a Masterpiece

Thanks to the always wise and helpful Deb, she of all things Smitten, my nightstand stack recently grew an inch higher with a wonderful tome: the collected letters between Julia Child and Avis Devoto. To be honest, I'm just in the first chapter or so (McCarthy era, pre-Mastering), but I have to say, I'm utterly touched. So, what would compel me to write a post about a book I've barely started? Let me try to explain.

Julia Child started her correspondence with Avis Devoto when Mrs Paul Child (as she signed her letters at first) wrote to Avis's husband regarding an article on knives he wrote. Mr Devoto's wife answered the letter for her husband, serving generally as his secretary. Being both deeply interested in French cookery, the two women quickly (and without shyness) struck up a friendship via letters that meandered (so far as I've read) through cookware, ingredients, actual recipes (right in the middle of letters! someone, please write to me like this.), family, and the fervor of 1950s politics. Through the course of the first couple of letters, they went from "Mrs Paul Child" and "Mrs Devoto" to "Julia" and "Avis." Despite having never met, they quickly built up a deep sympathy and emotional attachment, lending each other support, ideas and camaraderie.

Here's the thing. I really like Julia Child. Like, a lot. But that's not the point here. It's these letters: these two women, like many of you that I've "met" online, in comments or behind the scenes in lovely emails, struck up a friendship remotely. A friendship centered in common interests, in encouragement not cattiness, warm regard and intelligence, not insecurity. I think one of things that's struck me most about blogging--at least the nice vein I've happened upon--is all the wonderful women I've "met." Some are moms, some not. Most cook. Many are graphic designers, strangely... guilty here. Some I know in real life, others I hope to someday.

I guess I just want to say: this book about a friendship between two upper middle-class ladies in the 1950s has struck an interesting chord with me. I have a warm fuzzy feeling about you ladies and our daily "correspondence," and I'm glad to have made your acquaintance.


PS -- I know there are a couple of guys out there, too. Love you too, in a different way ;)


  1. oooh, this sounds like a really good read! perhaps i could borrow it after you're done :)

  2. Sure thing, lady! It's yours.


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