I never have time for a good book anymore, but last Christmas, my Aunt gave me a book that I was very excited to read. "As Always, Julia. The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto", edited by Joan Reardon, has been keeping me occupied for some time now. It's not a book you want to plow through and be done with. Its to be savored like Julia's cooking and recipes.
The two ladies struck up a friendship when Julia responded, as a fan, to a piece Avis DeVoto's husband wrote on knives and cutlery. Avis was in charge of Bernard's correspondence and fan mail, and she wrote Julia back to thank her for her comments on the article. From there a lovely friendship emerged, with letters going back and forth between the two women. Julia writing from Paris, Germany, Oslo, and wherever her and husband Paul were living, due to his job with the Foreign Service. Meanwhile Avis composed most of her letters from Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she lived.
Although Avis was instrumental in giving Julia valuable feedback on her cookbook manuscript, and even helped her to find a proper publisher, I am struck most by their friendship, which developed mostly through letter writing. They discuss all manner of topics in depth including, politics, family, being a wife, and modern woman in the 1950's. Julia also airs her frustrations to Avis as she experiments with recipes, and shapes her masterpiece of a cookbook. They are the most intimate of friends, and the letters are what bonds them, as they are more free to express life's ups and downs.
The art of writing letters has all but vanished, as we rely more on texting, emails, and an incredibly abbreviated language, and less formal tone in our communications. We've lost something here, that's for certain, and I'm as guilty as anybody.
As a teen, I used to write letters all the time to friends and family. There was nothing more gratifying then receiving a card or letter back from whomever I wrote. They were almost always filled with colorful details of the sender's life and happenings. I know, I never wrote a letter saying, 'Dear So And So, Hope ur well. Ur letter wuz funny. lol! C u in a wk. :)'xoxo-Amy. BTW, when I did a spellcheck for this blog entry, the abbreviated spellings were the only words needing correction. OMG! Go figure.
Reading Julia's and Avis' letters has inspired me not only to eat, and cook, but to work on building better connections with others, and maybe even write a letter or two. I'll be waiting by my mailbox for the response.