My first ever post on one of the 52 books I have pledged to read as part of The Classics Club is a bit of a cheat. I couldn't resist; ever since I baked a cake and handed it in to my tutor instead of writing an essay, I have delighted in breaking rules. So the first book is not exactly what I would consider a classic, but I have a really good reason for letting it slip through the Classic Definer Net of Criteria, which I will explain. But first: what is the book?
My Life in France by Julia Child. The book is a memoir of a time in Child's life when she was creating what I do consider a classic: Mastering The Art of French Cooking, and that is why I have let it slip through. I have dipped into Mastering while reading My Life in France and quite enjoyed the added context the biography gives the cookbook.
What I have loved so much about My Life in France is that it is a joyful, inspiring and exciting read. Child's enthusiasm for her discoveries is palpable and invigorating. My Life in France is a story about a mind awakening, horizons expanding, and passions and direction in life being discovered. It is utterly heartwarming and reassuring to know that it really can happen to a person at any age.
It ramped up my own enthusiasim for food, cooking and eating (always fairly high to begin with). I have slowed my reading pace in order to peruse more deeply than normal several books on my groaning recipe book shelves, including Jamie's Great Britain (Jamie Oliver) and Four Seasons Cookery Book (Margaret Costa). This has been a wonderfully pleasurable and informative experience, and I wouldn't have thought to do it if I hadn't been reading My Life in France.
So, if one chooses to define a classic as a book that can make you think deeply about a topic, and open you mind to new ideas and possibilities then My Life in France most assuredly counts as a classic. And if if one chooses to see a classic as a book that has been engaged with multiple times and in multiple ways, you could equally use this definition to include My Life in France in a list of classics. I whole heartedly give this book five sticks of butter out of five.