Oct 20, 2010

Julie & Julia

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

My rating: 4 stars

Quick overview: (From goodreads) Julie Powell is 30-years-old, living in a rundown apartment in Queens and working at a soul-sucking secretarial job that's going nowhere. She needs something to break the monotony of her life, and she invents a deranged assignment. She will take her mother's dog-eared copy of Julia Child's 1961 classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and she will cook all 524 recipes. In the span of one year. At first she thinks it will be easy. But as she moves from the simple Potage Parmentier (potato soup) into the more complicated realm of aspics and crepes, she realizes there's more to Mastering the Art of French Cooking than meets the eye. 

I loved this book. I was nervous about reading it because while I've learned to like being in the kitchen more, I'm not huge into cooking and I was afraid I'd be a little bored. Not the case whatsoever. It's a fast but good read. It's engaging. It made me laugh and cry. I became invested in Julie as a person. I was sympathetic when she had to do things she hadn't done before. (Like the lobsters - I kept covering my eyes while reading, I can't even imagine!) I also found myself easily relating to her. At one point she made a recipe that (of course) took longer than expected for some friends and she was getting stressed about it, but then saw everyone sitting around enjoying the food and laughing she wrote, "Which just goes to show, I guess, that dinner parties are like everything else - not as fragile as we think they are." (pg 133) When I read that I actually said out loud, "that's what I think too!"

Her writing style was also something that surprised me about this book, and I think that's why I was able to relate to her so easily. She mentioned when she was in the kitchen it was like she was talking to Julia Childs, and when I was reading the book I felt like I was talking to Julie Powell. I found myself rooting for her and feeling victorious along with her when she accomplished something, big or small, even though the project has been over for almost eight years.

"If Daisy Buchanan's laugh is the sound of money, then a gimlet, well executed, is the color of it. It is just the thing when you are feeling impoverished, financially or spiritually." (pg 199) How could you not like her writing? Doesn't that just make you want a gimlet right now? (And really, anyone who references The Great Gatsby is someone I would totally be friends with).

This book is definitely inspiring. Not in the I'm going to cook like Julia Childs sense (for me anyway), but since finishing it I've found myself thinking if Julie Powell could bone a duck, I can get off my lazy butt and make dinner. 

I'll leave you with one last quote:

"Somewhere along the way, I discovered that in the physical act of cooking, especially something complex or plain old hard to handle, dwelled unsuspected reservoirs of arousal both gastronomic and sexual. If you are not one of us, the culinarily depraved, there is no way to explain what's so darkly enticing about eviscerating beef marrowbones, chopping up lobster, baking a three-layer pecan cake, and doing it for someone else, offering someone hard-won gustatory delights in order to win pleasures of another sort. Everyone knows that foods are sexy to eat. What they don't talk about so much is foods that are sexy to make. But I'll take a wrestling bout with recalcitrant brioche dough over being fed a perfect strawberry any day, foreplay-wise." (pg 251)

Have you read this book? Did you like it? I watched the movie after I finished - review of that coming soon!

(Photo: Maggie Rose)

9 comments:

Diana Mieczan said...

I really would love to read the book and see the movie:) Great review,sweetie
Kisses

Ps: I am hosting a $50 gift certificate GIVEAWAY later on today, so please join in :) ...I bet you will love it!!!

Charbelle said...

I love that you gave us quotes!!! I love the quotes, which means I'm going to have to go get the book. Up to this point I had no interest but you totally sold me!!! That last quote is wonderful!!!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I read this book a couple of months before I went to France in 2008 and really enjoyed it. It was the beginning of my love affair with all things French. Because I read this book, I was inspired to try bone marrow. While I didn't enjoy the bone marrow, it was an interesting and unforgettable experience!

Even though you aren't really into cooking, I also highly recommend reading "My Life in France" which is Julia Child's sort of auto biography!

Emily Jane said...

I've wanted to read this ever since I saw the movie! I actually came across the real Julie Powell's blog while she was doing this project and it was super interesting - full of swearing lol it was JUST like listening to her in person!

Gracie (Complicated Day) said...

You make me want to read the book, which I had previously dismissed!

Nora said...

I did read this book; I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either. The movie, however I LOVED.

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

I actually couldn't get through this book. I did NOT like Julie at all. To be completely honest, I thought she was a major bitch!

The movie, however, I LOVED! It portrayed Julie as a much nicer person than the book...

Kyla Roma said...

I love this book when I read it- I thought she was completely easy to relate to and loved all the food. :)

I think it was finding out more about the author that turned me off, truthfully. Apparently in her new book she reveals that she was cheating on her husband the whole time she was doing the Julie & Julia project. I'm definitely not a moralist and I get how that's not part of the story of the project but...

...still, I have a little bit of a yuck feeling about it! lol

I love it as its own thing though, and it made me dive into My Life In France by Julia Child which I can't recommend highly enough :)

Nicole said...

It's so funny how people can have such different opinions on books. I hated this book, and Julie too. I thought Julia Child was so right that Julie didn't have her heart in cooking, that it was just a task to get through. I was also completely offended by her lack of sympathy for families of 9/11 victims and her irrational hatred of Republicans.

I recently saw the movie. I didn't hate Julie as much, but I still wasn't inspired. Meh...

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