Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession” as Want to Read:
Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession

2.45  ·  Rating details ·  4,399 ratings  ·  1,057 reviews
Julie Powell thought cooking her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking was the craziest thing she'd ever do--until she embarked on the voyage recounted in her new memoir, CLEAVING.

Her marriage challenged by an insane, irresistible love affair, Julie decides to leave town and immerse herself in a new obsession: butchery. She finds her way to Fleische
Hardcover, 303 pages
Published December 1st 2009 by Little Brown and Company
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cleaving, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Cleaving

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 2.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,399 ratings  ·  1,057 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession
Jan 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
i hated this book. i read julie & julia &, you know, i didn't think julie powell was the next shakespeare or anything, but she managed to pull together a better book than most bloggers-turned-authors out there. i was engaged with the story. i enjoyed the prose in an auto-pilot brain kind of way. i figured this book would be more of the same--philosophical insights about her personal life shared through a prism of foodie-ness. & i guess that's what it was, but it was also unspeakably horrible.

La Petite Américaine
Feb 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Chicks who need to get a divorce.

Let's be honest here.

No one likes Julie Powell.

We all bought her first book because of the lovable giant that is Julia Child and the story of a promising culinary project. We had enough of those pleasant distractions to kindly ignore the loudmouth attention-whore Julie Powell, despite the fact that she was running around the background screaming "Look at me! Look at me, damn you!!" (What do you want to bet she was a theater major?)

The problem is, her followup gives us none of the positi
Rachel Cooper
Aug 17, 2009 rated it did not like it
I only kept going to the end because I was REALLY hoping that her poor long-suffering husband would kill her. He didn't. ...more
Jan 12, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2010
After reading Cleaving, I can't decide if this is a memoir from the James Frey school of memoirs (i.e. details and events are so outrageous as to seem more fictional than not) or if Julie Powell is actually telling the truth and therefore needs some serious serious mental health help.

This really isn't the story of Powell learning to butcher. Instead, it's the story of Powell's trainwreck marriage and personal life, which is so gruesome that you *want* to look away, but you just *can't*. After a
Apr 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
Oh boy. The essence of Julie Powell's new book centers around her two year affair with a sleazy, unattractive loser she knew from college (her husband Eric knows and instead of taking a stand that she end it, just makes passive-aggressive quips about it).

Between all the obsession, there's an alternating story about Julie as she learns the art of butchering. The two stories have virtually nothing to do with each other and I suspect the butchery was just thrown in as some sort of an attempt at a
Jul 11, 2010 rated it did not like it
May we (I speak for the collective of goodreads here) puh-lease add a "negative" star rating, simply and exclusively for Cleaving? Please! If I could give it less I would, but I will settle for a mere "didn't like it" when indeed I hated it. Why did I finish it? I'm embarrassed to say I was rooting for the husband in the end. I was hoping against hope that he would man up and leave this egotistical, manic depressive, selfish, negative, attention seeking slut I used to call a good writer. How cou ...more
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Stop ranting about the evils of Julie Powell. I've been reading a lot of horrible reviews of this book, and I can't help but think these readers are just barking up the wrong tree. Either these people loved the quaint life promoted in Julie & Julia too much, they take literary achievement too seriously, or they just plain have no experience to relate to. If you have never lost an important relationship in your life due to your own destructive nature, keep scrolling down the reading list. You wil ...more
Feb 10, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: disliked
As Dorothy Parker once said, "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."

This book was dense, intensely personal, grotesque, in the same way that a microscope can be grotesque in its intimate examination, and not that much fun to read, which was really the killing blow.

The butchery sections were interesting, even poetic, but the heavy-handedness of her constant relation of how she saw her marriage and affair in comparison with what she learned as a but
I haven't read or seen Julie and Julia. So I had no opinion on Julie Powell one way or another, except that I think the casting of Amy Adams probably means to an extent at least she was a bit of a sweetheart.

So, to me, the first half of this audio deserves 5 stars. To follow up your momsy bestseller with a book in which you juxtapose butchery and buggery deserves my applause. She is FEARLESS in talking about her desire for rough sex, her extramarital affair, and her obsessions. As well as talkin
Elevate Difference
Jan 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Julie Powell wrote a blog called the Julie/Julia Project, which was turned into a book entitled Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, and last summer Julie & Julia hit the big screen as a movie featuring Meryl Streep. Admittedly, Julie & Julia was a heartwarming, sticky sweet account of Powell’s mission to cook her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The blog/book/movie led us to believe that Powell was a somewhat quirky woman who loved to cook, occasionally ...more
Nov 20, 2009 rated it did not like it
Julie Powell's life is falling apart and it is ALL HER FAULT. She's cheating on her husband with a man she previously cheated on him with in college. She falls in love with the man and even considers leaving her husband for him, even as the lover pulls away from her and stops returning her calls. As the book progesses, she continues to pull away from her loving and supportive husband and desperately and needily clings to the lover, stalking him and purchasing $300 french scarves for him even aft ...more
To Julie's Editor: DO YOUR FUCKING JOB!

To Julie's Publisher: All future Powell books will be returned unsold, so don't bother. She was clearly a one-hit wonder.

To the douchebag men who want to bang slutbag Julie: Just run and avoid this hot mess.

To Julie: You had so much potential and you absolutely, positively blew it. Your immature little brain just couldn't help itself and you let your truly sickening view of stranger fucking weigh more heavily in your book (not to mention your life and
Dec 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
When we last saw that saucy Julie Powell, she was a sweaty rosacea mess of marrow-crusted fingernails and damn-near oozing butter from her pores, at the finish line of a year-long Julia Childs' marathon fraught with self flagellation, hard liquor, and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" quotations.

"Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession," is what happened after the book deal and the movie deal: More restlessness, in the key of the restlessness that prompted her first project-turned-blog-turn
Alena Guggemos
May 27, 2010 rated it did not like it
This is the problem with getting most of my books from the library. I walk in without a specific book in mind, browse around, think "why not?" and end up with a disaster.

I'm not a huge fan of Julie Powell anyway. So, she cooked her way through a cookbook. So, since when is that remarkable? There was a time, in our not-too-distant past, when folks used cookbooks on a regular basis. This was considered normal.

BUT. This is neither here nor there.

I had some hopes for "Cleaving" because I thought
Jan 29, 2010 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
this book made me furious. i read julie & julia and liked it well enough, although i felt like there was no strong resolution of the narrative like you need - even in a memoir. then i saw the movie and like most people thought meryl streep was amazing and julie was eh.

after some thought i decided this was because julie powell is fundamentally a little bit unlikeable. i think they cast perky amy adams in it to try to counter that quality she has, but to no avail. she's just got enough of a whiny
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
I'll give Julie Powell one thing: She's brave. She's incredibly flawed and puts everything out there in this book. And I do mean everything. I guess there's such a thing as airing too much of your dirty laundry! I won't be spoiling anything by telling you this, since it's all revealed early in the book, but Julie -- who wrote lovingly about her marriage in her first book, Julie & Julia, does an abrupt about face in this book. It's a real shocker, this one. After she got famous, her life fell apa ...more
Jan 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Remember Julie Powell? Cute, sweet, Julie Powell so adorably portrayed by Amy Adams in the film Julie and Julia? Well, that Julie Powell and the one in Cleaving bear only a couple of resemblances: the hangdog husband Eric, and an annoying tendency to whine. In Bad Mother, Ayelet Waldman talks about how people with bipolar disorder make the best memoirists because they tend to overshare-- to lack the inhibition that makes most people stop talking about the most intimate details of their lives. Wh ...more
Jan 23, 2010 rated it did not like it
Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession, by Julie Powell

Julie Powell's penchant for whining carries from her previous novel into "Cleaving." While reading the book, I actually felt very bogged down and depressed, especially after seeing page after page of her whining about her troubled marriage and pathetic affair. I call her affair pathetic because even after it's clear the other man doesn't want her, she stalks him, writes to him, texts him, and doesn't give up for two years (and th
Jamie Langes
Nov 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Raw and Oddly Engaging...

So many people have reviewed this book and thought it was horrid. I have an alternative perspective and it's actually a book I have read several times (I like Julie & Julia too, but this book is not in the same vein, so if you are looking for the Julie in that book, she's not here in Cleaving).

Perhaps on purpose (and I may be giving too much credit to the author & editors), but this book is very raw. It's about butchering, yes, but the storyline offers a look at emotions
Oct 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
It has been a long time since I read Julie & Julia (although I saw the movie much more recently). I was confused about people who'd read the book more recently talking about how Julie was unlikable. But I can get that. I don't readmemoirs about people I want to be friends with - I'm fine with them being slightly unpleasant since I won't have to deal with them once I'm done with the book. Ms. Powell is very self-centered, obsessive, and it's uncomofrtable watching how she hurts her husband and he ...more
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, adult
Julie Powell is back... and this time she's chucked Mastering the Art of French Cooking in favor of extracting the internal organs of various animals. Don't forget, she's also cheating on her husband and obsessing about entrails. There's just no end to her versatility - in one book she's a spunky gal downtrodden by a dead-end job but nurturing her soul through food (Julie & Julia) and in the next, she's cleaving a pig head in two with a skil-saw before having gross anonymous sex in a hallway wit ...more
Dec 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
At the end, I was so bored with the book that I skimmed all of her travels and read the end to see how she wrapped things up and called it a day. Who knew that obsession and kinky sex could eventually become so tiresome? I enjoyed her butcher shop apprenticeship but the meat saga also became tiresome once she traveled abroad since she primarily observed. Plus I was waiting for some epiphany that never came. Still self-absorbed and Buffy-obsessed at the end, just more resigned to her fate.
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Irena Smith
Dec 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
I have one word to say about this book: TMI. Picked it up because I was absolutely charmed by Julie's spontaneous, totally profane, utterly engaging voice and madcap humor (and indifferent attention to, um, kitchen cleanliness) in Julie & Julia. I was hoping to find more of the same in Cleaving, but nooooo.... apparently, such is the sense of false intimacy fostered by blogs that in this book Julie decides we want to know EVERYTHING about her personal life. Not just the cooking, not just the but ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mar-apr-2010
So if you enjoyed Julie & Julia, you shouldn't spoil that experience by reading this book--or even the rest of this review. Cleaving aspires to boldly lay bare the inner workings of a global industry and an intimate relationship, but it falls short in both spheres. Though Powell is at her best when writing about meat, these sections are too few--and too graphic--to sustain the story. "The squeamish--morally and otherwise--should read elsewhere," advises the New York Times Book Review. Powell's e ...more
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I hated this book and loved it at the same time. The writing was good and her life a disaster. It was more about her interpersonal journey than meat cutting. I cannot help but think of how mortified her husband was when and if he read her memoir.
Nov 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bios-and-memoirs
Julie Powell is an engaging writer. But Julie Powell should never again write about herself.

Julie Powell of Julie & Julia fame has written the second installment in her culinary journey, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession. Despite the success of her first novel, Julie is still having a crisis of self, this time one that involves an affair with a long-time acquaintance, a person we know only as 'D'. Rather than using food as a means to self-discovery, this time Julie uses food as
Dec 13, 2009 rated it did not like it
I love books. I love food. I love books about food. I even liked "Julie and Julia" very much, because the author was so darn likeable. But "Cleaving" is awful. Maybe I have less sympathy for a rich authoress who is cheating on her nice husband than I did when she was a struggling temp who just loved Julia Child. Maybe it was the endless meat/sex metaphor, because ten thousand pages of THAT won't get old. Maybe it was the racist travel-to-find-myself plot (actual last line for a chapter: "I pin m ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef
  • My Life in France
  • Belzhar
  • In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio
  • Triumph of Achilles
  • Poems 1962-2020
  • Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx
  • Loose Woman
  • Restoration
  • The Tesseract
  • Are You Experienced?
  • As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto: Food, Friendship, and the Making of a Masterpiece
  • Happy Like Murderers
  • The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War
  • The Art of Taking It Easy: How to Cope with Bears, Traffic, and the Rest of Life's Stressors
  • The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America
  • Anna K: Away (Anna K, #2)
  • The Air Year
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Julie Powell was born and raised in Austin, Texas, where she first fell in love with cooking — and her husband, Eric. She is the author of a cooking memoir, Julie & Julia, which was released in 2005. Her writing has appeared in Bon Appétit, The New York Times, House Beautiful, and Archaeology Magazine, among others. She lives in Long Island City, Queens.

News & Interviews

Here at Goodreads World Headquarters, we humbly endeavor to provide readers with book lists that will be useful, or interesting, or at least...
110 likes · 39 comments
“Like the muscles knew from the beginning that it would end with this, this inevitable falling apart... It's sad, but a relief as well to know that two things so closely bound together can separate with so little violence, leaving smooth surfaces instead of bloody shreds.” 33 likes
“My brother wrote another refrigerator magnet poem, when he was probably nineteen or twenty: 'When the flood comes/ I will swim to a symphony/ go by boat to some picture show/ and maybe I will forget about you.' How did he know way, way back then? How is it I know only now?” 4 likes
More quotes…