My life in France

From Charlene Muhr
author: Child, Julia
My life in France
After I watched the movie Julie and Julia, i wanted to know more about Julia Child, so I read My Life in France.  The idea for this book began in 1969, when Paul Child suggested that Julia write a book from the hundreds of letters that they both wrote to Charles Child (Paul’s twin brother) about their years in France.  On November 3, 1948, Paul and Julia arrived at Le Havre, France, aboard the SS America.  Paul would be running the exhibits office for the U.S. Informative Service at the American Embassy in Paris.  Julia couldn’t speak the language, even though she had studied French in school, knew little about the culture, and even less about French cooking.  But Julia was determined to learn about her new home and she came to love it and its people.  She shopped at local markets, became friendly with the merchants, and attempted to learn French cooking from an old fashioned cookbook.  Julia thought she had enrolled in a six-week intensive course at Ecole du Cordon Bleu but she had actually signed up for a year-long Annee Scolaire for $450.  It was here, through the guidance of Chef Bugnard, that Julia fell in love with French food and French cooking. Throughout the book, we learn about Julia’s many accomplishments, from her teaching, her famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, her television show, and her role in bringing classic French cuisine to the American audience.

The Blood of Lorraine

From Rosemarie Jerome
author: Pope, Barbara Corrado
The Blood of Lorraine
It is France, 1894.  The Alfred Dreyfus trial is causing anger and unrest throughout the country.  Anti-Semitism is rampant.  A Christian baby is found mutilated.  Magistrate Bernard Martin must find the killer before the entire town riots.  When two Jews are killed, is he searching for a serial killer or two separate killers?  Are the cases linked or is a coincidence?  Martin is pressured by his superiors to quickly solve these cases.  He wants to solve them before more victims are discovered.  It is a race against time, as Martin unearths truths about himself and the racism that has been lurking below the surface in his community.  Tragedy strikes his family and brings Martin to the breaking point, as it slowly drives his wife insane.  It is an intriguing time period, with a main character that you could relate to.  The interaction between Martin and his sidekick, Inspector Jacquette, adds some comic relief to an otherwise grim historical mystery.

The road of lost innocence

From Jackie Cantwell
author: Mam, Somaly
The road of lost innocence
 This is the true story of a Cambodian woman who was sold into prostitution at the age of sixteen.  Somaly was abandoned by her birth parents when she was about five years old. A neighbor in her northeastern Cambodian village of Bou Sra took her in. She is Phnong., which is a tribe of mountain people. The poverty and primitivity she describes in her youth is almost beyond belief. She doesn’t know when she was born; she thinks it’s 1970 or 1971.  The Khmer Rouge regime of 1975-1979 was responsible for the deaths of about 20% of the population of Cambodia.  The Khmer seem to have also robbed the Cambodians of their culture and their spirit. Somaly describes with sickening detail her daily beatings and rapes.  The specifics are so shocking, I cannot describe them here. She doesn’t mention the word “torture”, but I believe she was tortured as well.  Her narrative doesn’t beg for us to pity her. She tells her story as an example of all the other girls sold into sexu  al slavery. She says that her experience was almost nothing (!) compared to the experience of those today. Virgins are especially prized ; girls of 5 or 6 years old are sold and raped repeatedly. The beatings today are even worse. She says that judges can’t be bribed in Cambodia; they’ve already been bought. The men who should be maintaining the law: the military, the police and the judges, are also customers of the brothels.  Even “humanitarian aid workers” use prostitutes! These sex traffickers make the mafia look like boy scouts.  She argues that the only way to stop it is for the international community to take notice and to bring the ringleaders to justice.   Today she runs an organization called AFESIP that rescues children from sexual slavery and provides housing, schooling and vocational training.  One would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by her account.