Book review: Julie & Julia

Name & author: Julie & Julia, Julie Powell

Why are you reading this book?

I saw the movie several years ago and enjoyed it, as I tend to do with almost any Meryl Streep movie. I love reading books that movies are based on, but I always prefer to read them after I see the movie (we’ll save a further exposition of that theory for a future post).  I also have a thing for semi-real stories: the ones ‘based on real events.’ You know the authors are taking some creative license, but I could picture Julie wrestling in tears with live lobsters. Also, I could see myself taking on a project like cooking a whole recipe book for no reason other than the accomplishment of doing it.

What’s the first line of the first chapter?

As far as I know, the only evidence supporting the theory that Julia Child first made Potage Parmentier during a bad bout of ennui is her own recipe for it.

So, what did you think?

I liked it. High entertainment value.  A perfect vacation read, and contains the added bonus of making me want to cook more.

Though a bit overdramatic, Julie is a really likeable character, and it’s easy to sympathize with her. Some of her fears are easy to identify with as a twentysomething: is my job going to be the defining characteristic about me? What if it’s a short-term solution that I’ve been in for far too long? What if I’m on my own and still don’t know what I want to do with my life? Julie responds by deciding to cook through Mastering the Art of French Cooking, 524 recipes, in one year, dubbing it the Julie/Julia Project. She also blogs about it as she goes, in the early days of blogging.

One of my favorite parts of the book, though, are the views into the imagined life of Julia Child. I loved the way the movie expanded that aspects and showed their lives in parallel, rather than just a few pages in the novel.

Was the ending satisfying? (Without spoiling it, please!) 

Yes, in the sense that it felt realistic. She hadn’t answered all those questions above by recipe 524, and didn’t even after she was done. It wasn’t as if after the year was over, she had achieved inner peace. Life went on. She still had her job she didn’t love, and a book deal (the result of which I just read) didn’t come until later. But her life kept going.

Is it worth …. 

X   collecting dust on the bookshelf

__  reading again and again

__   recommending to friends

__   trashing

Anything else to add?

The inevitable question of “which is better, book or movie?” still hovers, and I’m not sure. It’s no great work of prose, but I enjoyed it. That being said, I think I liked the movie better because it had more of Julia Child’s life. She is crazy, y’all. I think she would’ve been one of those great, slightly-crazy-in-a-good-way friends everyone needs to have.

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