Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Five worthwhile memoirs

Richard Lacayo and Lev Grossman of TIME recently named five memoirs worth reading, including:
My Life in France by Julia Child

She loved France. She loved French. She even loved the French. But what Julia Child, all 6 ft. 2 in. of her, loved most was the oddly captivating things the French ate, things that nobody ate where she was from, provincial Pasadena, Calif. When her husband Paul moved them both to Paris after World War II, she learned to cook snails and everything else expertly. Later, in books and on television, she fed those things to Americans, and we duly loved her for it. But this posthumous memoir, written with her grandnephew Alex Prud'homme, is about her years abroad, when she attended cooking school in Paris and co-wrote her classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It's--what else?--delicious.

Click here to read about the other four memoirs.

Actually French, but not an authentic memoir, is Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian, one of my favorite historical novels.

From the publisher:
In her magnificent novel, Marguerite Yourcenor recreates the life and death of one of the great rulers of the ancient world. The Emperor Hadrian, aware his demise is imminent, writes a long valedictory letter to Marcus Aurelius, his future successor. The Emperor meditates on his past, describing his accession, military triumphs, love of poetry and music, and the philosophy that informed his powerful and far-flung rule. A work of superbly detailed research and sustained empathy, Memoirs of Hadrian captures the living spirit of the Emperor and of Ancient Rome.
Brilliant stuff.

--Marshal Zeringue