My mother bought this book back in the early 1970's when she was a busy working mother. On one of my visits home from college, I expressed a newly found interest in cooking. So Mom gifted me with "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". She liked to bake but had left cooking as a priority for that time in her life.
Now it's 1999, and I will send a copy of this book to my sister for her birthday in May. Mom wants one too. Her birthday is in May as well, and she is tired of hearing about the wonderful dishes I prepare from this book. So I will return the favor of twenty years ago and send her a copy. In retirement, cooking has become once again a priority for her.
The French took the wonderful cuisine of the Florentines, themselves heirs to the Roman way with food, and refined it exquisitely. If you have any doubts, take a recipe that interests you from the book at the bookstore. Go home and prepare it. If you are a novice cook, you will be rewarded by savory, tasteful results beyond any hopes you might have held out for yourself. Just follow the recipes scrupulously.
If you love to cook and you're American, this book is your right arm. It's the base from which you can extend yourself confidently into other cuisines.