Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

Julie Powell, nearing thirty and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, resolves to reclaim her life by cooking in the span of a single year, every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's legendary Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her unexpected reward: not just a new found respect for calves' livers and aspic, but a new life-lived with gusto.

Thanks to Anna at Hachette Book Group I was able to giveaway copies of this book and got a review copy for myself.

Because I had recently read another memoir tied to cooking I put this to the side for a bit. I am glad I finally picked it up.

Julie Powell had hit a point in her life where she felt she needed to make a drastic change or accept that she was nothing more than a secretary. After learning more about her possible difficulties with having a child, Julie is at the end of her rope with life in general. She works for a government agency that deals with the 9/11 crisis and has even become a bit jaded there as well. To get some fresh air and time away she decides to visit her parents. While there it seems as if Julia Child's book Mastering the Art of French Cooking is staring her down from the shelf. Julie pops it in her bag with a grand idea to take one year and make all the recipes. Her husband one ups the idea and tells her to start a blog detailing it.

Over the course of the year Julie makes some tasty and some pretty disgusting dishes. She bonds with friends and with her husband. She screams, she cries, she throws fits, and sometimes she fails miserably. The big difference is that she has purpose and direction. Julie went from waking up and watching the day go by to really living. I think that is the lesson learned. Find something you love (even if everyone else thinks you are crazy) and just do it! You never know what might happen - can you say book deal, movie rights??

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I could not even begin to imagine trying to eat bone marrow, livers, aspics...on and on the list goes. Reading about Julie doing it was great. She wrote this with honesty and shared even her most selfish moments. Julie became obsessive, but found her purpose through it. She developed deeper connections with friends and family, because she became more comfortable with being herself and liking herself. She and her husband also learned a lot about their relationship. Though there are moments in this book where they wanted to kill each other, they realized that they had love and a deep respect for each other.

My only gripe with this book was that in her jaded view of life Julie sometimes came across a bit harsh regarding September 11th. I know it was really more about her work environment and the bureaucratic bull involved, but this could touch on a sensitive spot for some. I also worried that anyone personally affected by losing family would be offended if they read certain parts. Also, this didn't offend me in the least, but there is quite a bit of foul language. Just thought you might want to know in case it bothers you.

Overall, this book taught lessons on going for your dreams, being comfortable with you, and looking around you to develop your relationships with others. Pretty good for a chick who just wanted to cook some French stuff and forget about all the deep issues in her life.


  1. Good review, Alison! I loved this book, too,(and the movie!).

    I read it while on vacation last week.

  2. I really liked the book a lot, and loved the movie.

  3. I haven't gotten to see the movie yet, but I really want to. You could almost watc the movie in you head while reading this.