Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


You have Julie.  She's a 29 year old at a seemingly dead end point in her life of which she can't make any sense.  So, she throws herself into learning how to cook and daily blogging--something very laborious, routine, and highly structured--to see if she can once again find some meaning in her life over the course of a year and the 524 recipes included in Mastering the Art of French Cooking

:Short Thought: 
All the teasers of this book promise a chronicle of the journey this woman takes to find herself through her reignited love of cooking.  That couldn't be further from the truth.  The food really takes a back seat to the author's overall distaste for her life.

This wouldn't be that bad if Julie was even somewhat likable. There are some short bursts that are enjoyable.  For the most part, I had to force myself to finish it.

:Expanded Thoughts:
[Contains Some Spoilers]
I had seen the movie based on this book by the same name a few years ago and really enjoyed it.  So when I saw this book at my local Dollar Tree, I just couldn't pass it up.

First, let me just say, that this book is nothing like the movie.  It doesn't have the same tone, the same glorious tidbits of Julia's journey to make her famous cookbook, or even the love of food.  The book focuses much less on the food and more on Julie and her environment, her relationships, and her often unapologetically strong and often problematic musings.

I started off very intrigued and almost refreshed by Julie and her brash manner.  The first story she shares is of when she sold her eggs for money which I found to be a kick right out of the gate.  She also isn't afraid to give her opinions or lace her thoughts with profanity.  While I didn't agree with most of what she shared, I did start off liking it much better than the flat, overly agreeable female lead that is so often present in books. Unfortunately, what I initially read as dashes of self-deprecation, snark, and sarcasm quickly turned into a facade for a whiny and self-centered brat.

I thought I was going to be reading about this woman finding a love of cooking, but it turns out that she didn't even really like cooking.  In fact, her kitchen was in such filth and disarray that she tells of maggots being in it.  She also complains of all the weight she was gaining from eating the rich food from the recipes she was completing and how it was ruining her sex life.  She also didn't describe any of the glorious dishes in a manner that was remotely appetizing as one would expect from a foodie.  For a book supposedly about cooking, the reader is left with nothing but a bad taste.

I really wanted to like this book.  I really did.  The premise hit a cord with me.  I went through something very similar a few years ago and again more recently.  Of course, I didn't achieve one percent of the success of this author in my pursuits either financially or personally, but I could relate to it in a big way.

Unfortunately, the story never really went anywhere and the scenes were very choppy and all over the place chronologically.  Even the little fantasy tidbits about Julia Child and her husband, that were so amazing and integral to the movie, were so bland and seemingly out of place.  While I understand that this was adapted from her blog, the structure of it was just unpleasant to read.

Julie starts off as quite a despicable person who is full of herself, judgmental, and overly dramatic.  There are a few moments where you get to see a different Julie, such as, when she finds out that Julia Child hates her blog or the very last scene after she receives the call about Julia's passing.  There is even a scene or two where I found her funny amongst the many other scenes that were ruined by severely problematic language.  In the end, it seems that she is very much the same despicable person just with a few more cooking skills under her belt. 

:Additional Notes:
This is a stand alone novel.

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