While it seems we've already seen photographs of every centimeter of Paris from every angle, it's a pleasure to look at the postwar city through Child's viewfinder. A trained draftsman, painter and lithographer, he had strong theories about composition and light, as well as a desire to distill "some aspect of each place," whether it be fishermen on the Seine, geometrically framed by the overlapping arches of a bridge, or an old woman unwittingly anchoring an angular shadow in the South of France…As accomplished as the photographs are, and as engaging a character as Paul Child is revealed to bea curious, passionate and complex artist who never stopped seeking beauty and pleasurethe real draw here will undoubtedly be his intimate portraits of Julia Child before she was, well, Julia Child…What ultimately makes this enjoyable celebration of his work an important part of the Child archive is that it illuminates the third side of that fabled triangle, connecting us to his love of Juliaand France.
The New York Times Book Review - Christine Muhlke
Comprised of 225 black-and-white photographs by Paul Child, the husband of Julia Child, taken during the couple’s time in France beginning in 1948, this intimate photo album delivers mesmerizing visual addenda to Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France. Paul, a career diplomat who later served as photographer for his wife’s TV series, rarely left the house without at least one camera and produced an impressive number of photos, of which only a fraction are reproduced in these pages. Zeroing in on postwar Paris, the book covers the couple’s early years in France and yields a unique perspective on postwar Europe as well as on the backstory of the woman whose name is synonymous with French cuisine in 20th-century America. The collection includes photos of Julia’s days at the Cordon Bleu with fellow chefs, as well as snapshots of her at work amid pots and pans in the tiny kitchen of the couple’s Paris apartment. In other photos, Paul plays with shadows and angles while shooting the streets of Paris or the fields of the French countryside. There are also the more everyday traveler’s shots featuring a leggy Julia that illuminate the love story between the photographer and his muse. This thoroughly delicious book illustrates how two creative minds can impact public taste. Photos. (Oct.)
"Before she was the renegade chef, maven of the kitchen, and beloved culinary icon, Julia Child was simply… herself. [
France is a Feast] offers an intimate insight into the chef’s time in the country she came to love."
"[Paul Child] was a master of light, capturing the subtle details of shadows and highlights, creating photos rather than taking them… Julia makes many appearances in the book and is clearly his muse."
"To see [Julia Child’s] bare legs splayed on a rooftop, eating and laughing with friends, felt like meeting an entirely different person—a person you immediately want to get drunk and make a clafoutis with... But the book is so much more than black and white slides of a family vacation... Through Paul’s photographs you see Julia ‘before she was Julia,’ and it's tons of fun."
"While it seems we've already seen photographs of every centimeter of Paris from every angle, it's a pleasure to look at the postwar city through Child's viewfinder. A trained draftsman, painter and lithographer, he had strong theories about composition and light, as well as a desire to distill ‘some aspect of each place,’ whether it be fishermen on the Seine, geometrically framed by the overlapping arches of a bridge, or an old woman unwittingly anchoring an angular shadow in the South of France. As accomplished as the photographs are, and as engaging a character as Paul Child is revealed to be, the real draw here will undoubtedly be his intimate portraits of Julia Child before she was, well, Julia Child. What ultimately makes this enjoyable celebration of his work an important part of the Child archive is that it illuminates the third side of that fabled triangle, connecting us to his love of Julia – and France."
New York Times Book Review
"Before Julia Child became Julia Child, she and her husband, Paul, a career diplomat, lived from 1948 until 1954 in Paris and Marseille. In addition to his work in the civil service, Paul was an accomplished photographer who continually documented his surroundings.
France Is a Feast… captures the bygone world the couple inhabited."
"[Paul’s] black-and-white images show Julia atop Parisian staircases, and cooking among friends. He also took pictures of Paris’s landscape — rooftop views and picturesque city storefronts… The intimate images chronicle Julia’s discovery of French cooking and the French way of life, and show candid moments of the chef at work in the kitchen."
France Is a Feast showcases Paul Child’s black-and-white photography, and offers the most complete biography of Julia Child’s husband to date… A “visual extension” of Julia’s memoir… [ France is a Feast] features more than 220 black and white photos from Paul’s lens, plus the most detailed biography to date about the man behind Julia Child."
"A labor of love, about a love affair... It's extraordinary to see a collection of photographs in which a fiercely talented and accomplished woman is presented with humor, admiration, and love. Julia called Paul 'the man who is always there.' He took pictures at every turn, leaving a record of the streets of Paris and Marseille, of his wife, and of his own ghostly, beloved presence, reflecting the light that she cast."
"Full of illuminating photographs, the book is also suffused with personal insight into the couple. The volume is written by Alex Prud’homme, Paul’s great-nephew, and the man who coauthored Julia’s famed
My Life in France. And what’s more, Katie Pratt, photo curator of the book… is the daughter of dear friends of the couple. So from text to photographic vignettes, this publication is an intimate look inside the life of one extraordinary couple living in 1950s France."
France is a Feast lives up to its name, presenting a rich treasure-trove of photography, biography, history and culinary lore… While Paul's arresting, artful images offer a fascinating glimpse of the couple's life in France between 1948 and 1954, it's the photos of Julia that are strikingly intimate: Julia kneeling near her cat in the couple's apartment; her nude silhouette in front of a sunlit window in Florence; Julia talking on the phone, with only her long, outstretched legs visible, but her warm, hearty laugh so easy to imagine."
"Few food icons have maintained a hold on culinary obsessives’ imaginations like Julia Child… For a more intimate portrait of Child’s real life, look to this new collection of rarely-before-seen black-and-white photographs taken by her husband Paul that chronicles their adventures in Paris and the French countryside, culinary and otherwise."
"Paul's photographs of their years in France are included in
France is a Feast: The Photographic Journey of Paul and Julia Child, a handsome, large-format book... Author Alex Prud’homme writes about Paul (his great uncle), Paul’s passion for photography, and for his wife, Julia."
This visual journey is told by Prud'homme, great-nephew of Paul Child and coauthor of Julia Child's My Life in France, and Pratt, a photo curator whose parents were close to the Childs. Though the focus of the book is Paul's photography, it feels more like a biography of the couple than an artist catalog. Their time in Paris, from 1948 to 1953, encompasses half the work. Here, Julia discovers French cuisine; it would be more than a decade later that her first book, The Art of French Cooking, would launch her career. A year in Marseille and an examination of Paul's earlier years complete the text. Though carefully composed and with a photographer's keen eye, Paul's black-and-white photos better serve to illustrate the personal stories of the couple's adventures rather than to stand alone as an artist's work. More than 200 images of architecture and city street life are shown alongside pictures of Julia and their friends. VERDICT Fans of Julia Child will certainly enjoy this intimate view of the French Chef and her earliest years in the kitchen. Photographers may appreciate Paul Child's work as it captures midcentury France with charming simplicity.—Shannon Marie Robinson, Drexel Univ. Libs., Philadelphia