How Julia Child Rescued Me from the Darkness

Several months ago, thanks to a series of bleeds in my right eye due to ROP*, I underwent a vitrectomy to clear up all the blood still pooling throughout my eye. When my surgeon finished, I learned that I’d suffered a retinal detachment as well, hidden by the immense amount of blood. A gas bubble now obstructed my vision. And would not disappear for at least eight weeks.

Since my left eye is very low vision, this bubble left me essentially blind. No reading, no TV, no driving, no cooking, no computer, no Internet, no exercise.

I’d done what I could do medically to heal myself.  But my psyche was another story.

That’s when my sister-in-law suggested audiobooks.

For a number of reasons, I’d never bothered with audiobooks. But as I fell into profound despair thinking about the long empty weeks stretching in front of me, I began to reconsider. Deprived of my usual activities, heck, my reasons for getting up in the morning, to be honest, I discovered that Amazon offered such books through an agreement with Audible.

That’s when Julia made her way back into my life.

With the help of my family, and a pair of excellent noise-cancelling headphones, I started with My Life in France. The narrator’s voice, speaking Julia’s words, gripped me, bringing back long-forgotten memories of my own travels in France, in happier days. And so I began my journey back to France, through the tools of modern communications technology. I also sank into a state of acceptance – mostly – of my situation.

The following is a partial list of the books I “read” over a nine-week period, the length of time it took for the gas bubble in my eye to dissipate. I started with Julia, but the stories of her life led me to many other books touching upon French food and history.

Provence 1970

The French Chef in America

Julia Child


Appetite for Life

The Widow Cliquot

The Food and Wine of France

32 Yolks

Americans in Paris


A Moveable Feast

Ritz & Escoffier

The Gourmands’ Way

Ten Restaurants that Changed America

Wine & War

Paris in the Present Tense

The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris

Au Revoir to All That

Seven Ages of Paris

The Lost Generation: American Writers in Paris in the 1920s

Village of Secrets

Thanks to Julia’s words in My Life in France, I remembered, once again, that the ebb and flow of any life must be regarded as a mere sojourn.

Note: I also listened to a large number of other books, too! If you go the audiobook route for whatever reason, be sure to try the samples before buying. Some narrators ruin the experience of an otherwise great book!

*Retinopathy of prematurity. I am still adjusting to the changes wrought by the vitrectomy and all the laser needed to “kill” the abnormal blood vessels on my retina and seal the detachment.

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