Monday, October 17, 2011

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
359 pages
Published July 2009 by Little, Brown and Company
Source: the publisher - in fact, this was one of the first books ever offered to me for review

Julie Powell was pushing thirty, just moving into an even crappier apartment than the one she and her husband were living in and suffering through a series of temp jobs which are sucking her soul away. Enter Julia Childs - specifically Child's masterwork "Mastering The Art of French Cooking"  (MtAoFC).

As a teenager, Powell (when she wasn't sneaking a peek at her parents' copy of The Joy of Sex) could frequently be found reading recipes from her mother's copy of MtAoFC so it was only logical that she would turn to it again for a source of inspiration when she found herself desperately in need of something to do to make herself not feel like a failure. With her husband's encouragement, Powell started a blog and the Julie/Julia Project was born. Powell set a goal to cook all 524 recipes in the book in 365 days. Along the way Powell had many great successes but just as many disasters. Her husband should probably be nominated for sainthood - the woman didn't get meals on the table until most people are headed for bed, her housekeeping (what there was of it to begin with) became so non-existent that she once discovered maggots in her kitchen, and she subjected her friends to all manner of food they would never have chosen to eat if they didn't love her.

After reading about the source of my copy of this book, you may have asked yourself why it took me so long to finally read this book. When I was offered this book, I was thrilled and had every intention of reading it immediately. Maybe I was put off by some reviews. Maybe because it was already everywhere. I'm not sure. Then when the movie came out, I was determined to read it first. Then after I'd seen the movie, I was determined to read it while the story was still fresh in my mind. Still I didn't get to it. It took a couple of new books sitting in my to-review pile to remind me that this one was still waiting for me.

I liked it, despite its flaws. Powell has a biting sense of humor and is just as willing to poke fun at herself as she is to poke fun at others. A complaint some have voiced is that Powell has a bit of a dirty mouth. I didn't notice it much (sounds like it's definitely more prominent in the blog). She does get a bit distracted at the end dropping names about the people who came to interview and film her and often got off topic in describing her friend's lives. I could have done without reading so often, too, about what a terrible housekeeper Powell was. Seriously, I don't care how busy working and cooking you are, there should never be maggots in your kitchen! Republicans be warned - Powell does not like you, a point she made repeatedly. But she is something of a voice for all of those who toil away in jobs where they are unappreciated, overworked, and underpaid. Maybe she could have whined a bit less about it but aren't we really all longing to find something to do with our lives that will fulfill us?

I loved the movie adaptation of this book which is also based on Julia Child's book, My Life In France, which is coming up soon for me. Powell may not have been able to end her book this way, but after all of this talk about wonderful food, I have to say it - bon appetit!

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