Julie's Reviews > Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
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Jul 30, 2008

it was ok

Julie Powell was a 29 year-old temp living in the outer boroughs and suffering from late-20s ennui and the kind of despair that comes from hating your career and thinking you should have done more with yourself by now. To give herself a goal - something I can very much sympathize with - she decided she would make all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. She also started a blog to chronicle her (mis)adventures. This book is an outgrowth of that experience.

From the start I saw some crazy parallels to that book that so gets the bile rising in my throat - Eat Pray Love. Turns out, Liz Gilbert was actually a mentor and reviewer of Powell's book. Both are white, middle-class women who can turn a phrase who decided to add meaning to their chaotic lives by creating wildly over-structured plans of action.

On the one hand, Julie Powell is probably more likeable than Liz - more honest in her self-deprecation, and more charming in her witty cynicism. Point for Julie.

On the other hand, Julie's book structure did not work as well as Liz's, though it pains me to say. The book read a lot like a blog that had been sloppily edited into a book.

I appreciated Julie's honesty about her temper, her relationship with her husband, and her struggles with despair - she came off, to me, as a sympathetic protagonist. But on the other hand, her honesty tended to feel overboard and often, added for shock value. I could give a f*** about her potty mouth - hello have you met me? - but I would have loved to have been spared the details about her absolutely filthy apartment and questionable sanitary habits, for example.

Probably the biggest problem with the book is that it was marketed as a book about cooking, when in fact it was just a relatively shallow autobiography with few larger lessons or takeaway points. It was an average, semi-well-spoken woman's memoir as she approaches the age of 30. I know about 100 ennui-suffering, confused, smart, well-spoken gals hovering around the 30-range; why am I reading Julie Powell's story and not theirs?

I would imagine, moreover, that the foodies who picked up this book were PISSED about the lack of attention given to the cooking process and the food, and about the over-attention given to Julie's feelings, mood swings, and tendency toward TMI.
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Reading Progress

July 30, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
August 1, 2008 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Laura I love that you used the words ennui and foodie! Iw would never recommend this book to my foodie friend -- I think she would throw it at me in disgust. I didn't even pick up EPL and will trust your comparison and continue to let it collect dust.

message 2: by Kelly (new)

Kelly i haven't read the book because i assumed several of the things you reference in your review. thanks for the review and letting me know this is not a must-read for me.

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