Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Julie & Julia - Julie Powell

Given the recent release of the movie "Julie & Julia", this book seems to be everywhere. I tend to enjoy books about food, and I don't know anything about Julia Child, so I decided to check it out before watching the movie. The book is a year in the life of Julie Powell - a temp living in New York, married to her high school sweetheart. Confused about what to do with her life, and feeling as if she has accomplished nothing, Powell decides to cook all of the recipes in Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She keeps track of her successes and failures through her blog which slowly gains a loyal following. Between chapters, Powell includes short vignettes of Child's imagined life. These interludes, however, did not add much to the book as far as I was concerned. And while the premise of the book seems fun and interesting, mostly I found Powell herself self-absorbed and whiny. She repeatedly gushes about how she has the best husband in the world and she does not understand how she got so lucky. After reading the book, I have no idea either. As for the recipes themselves, she appeared to make them with no rhyme or reason. Once in awhile she would throw a dinner party, but other times she just seemed to be slogging through them - and because the vast majority of the recipes hardly sounded appetizing, the whole thing just seemed to be a convoluted plan for having something to do, just to have something to do. If it weren't for the fact that this book has become a bestseller and the basis for a major motion picture, I doubt that I would have read past about page 50. I have heard that the movie, which is also based on the book My Life with Julia, focuses more interestingly on Julia Child herself. Often after I'm done reading a book, I go back and read the quotes on the back cover to see if I agree. This one proclaimed that it was "laugh out loud funny." I found it more nails on chalkboard cringe-worthy. And the second quote, I believe from the Washington Post, noted that it was a "pretty good read." With all the authors and publications out there providing quotes for books, the fact that the one featured on the cover can only muster a "pretty good" kind of sums up my feeling about the whole thing. I think I'll wait for the movie to come out on DVD.

1 comment:

Marji said...

Several years ago, I attempted to read this book. I agree with you that the premise was intriguing, but I could not continue reading because of the whining and the obscenities. I know that many contemporary book have language that I do not like, but that doesn't mean that I have to read them.

I have been reading My Life in France, and I enjoy that. Art bought it to read on the plane, and he finished it on the flight. He's a Francophile, you know, so he liked a lot of what he read. I read right before I fall asleep, so I read about 2 pages a night.

I've heard good things about the movie; and I was a fan of "The French Chef" so I'm game for the movie. I hear that the negative parts of Julie are minimized. Good.