'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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July 24, 2011

Only connect: Julia and Hadley






At least he could communicate. The longer I was in Paris, the worse my French seemed to get. I had gotten over my initial astonishment that anyone could understand what I said at all. But I loathed my gauche accent, my impoverished phraseology, my inability to communicate in any but the most rudimentary way. My French 'u's were only worse than my 'o's.
      This was brought home to me at Thanksgiving, when we went to a cocktail party at Paul and Hadley Mowrer's apartment. He wrote a column for the New York Post and did broadcasts for the Voice of America. She was a former Mrs. Ernest Hemingway, whom Paul had first met in Paris in the 1920s. Hadley was extremely warm, not very intellectual, and the mother of Jack Hemingway, who had been in the OSS during the war and was called Bumby. At the Mowrer's Thanksgiving Party, more than half the guests were French, but I could barely say anything interesting at all to them. I am a talker, and my inability to communicate was hugely frustrating. ...
      In mid-December, a little snow flurry sugared the cobblestones... We shared Christmas Day with the Mowrers. They were a good deal older and wiser than me, and I thought of them as semi-parental figures. Their big news was that Bumby Hemingway was engaged to marry a tall Idaho girl named Byra 'Puck' Whitlock. ...
      Puck was tall, dark and slim, a strong and attractive Idaho girl, who had once worked for United Airlines. ... She and Bumby had met in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 1946, and he had been pursuing her ever since. They hardly knew a soul in Paris, so I acted as her matron of honor, and Paul and Dort [Julia's sister] escorted people to their seats.
      The wedding was held in the American Church, on Rue de Berri ... It was a perfectly natural and unpompous ceremony, just like the Mowrers themselves. There was quite a crowd at the reception, including the writer Alice B. Toklas -- an odd little bird in a muslin dress and a big floppy hat -- and Sylvia Beach, owner of the famed Shakespeare & Co. bookstore. (Papa Hemingway did not attend.) The weather was heavenly:  clear blue sky with high, wispy clouds, the landscape bright green and yellow, with roses abloom in the Tuileries. By the end of the afternoon, I was thoroughly marinated with strawberries and cherries, champagne, brandy, Monbazillac, Montrachet, and Calvados, and speckled by tidbits of grass.
from My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme



6 comments:

Joan Hunter Dunn said...

What another lovely passage. i'd like to be marinated with strawberries, cherries and champagne!

GirlsWannaRead said...

Having just read The Paris Wife,I loved this passage including Hadley! I've just added this to my "must read" list.

Karen K. said...

I'll have to try and read this one by the end of the week -- it's been sitting on the TBR shelf unread since 2009 when I saw Julie & Julia. Shame on me!

And I too would like to be marinated with strawberries, cherries and champagne. Not a fan of brandy and I have no idea what Monbazillac is. I know they have goat cheese in Montrachet, maybe wine as well. Perhaps some research is in order!

Karen K. said...

I have googled, Monbazillac is a sweet dessert wine from the region of the same name, similar to a Sauternes. Sounds delicious!

JoAnn said...

Oh, I remember this passage! My Life in France was a favorite audio last year, and yesterday I started The Paris Wife.

Bellezza said...

Who knew that Julia and Hadley were connected, too?! Goodness sakes, the longer my interest in Paris/Hemingways continues this summer, the more I learn. I just finished The Paris Wife last night, learning of her marriage to Paul and Bumby's marriage to Puck. (Can they not call anyone their God-given name? :) So sad, but so interesting at the same time. Thanks for enriching me further still with this post.

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