Julie and Julia – Julie Powell

Julie and Julia – Julie Powell

I’ve been meaning to read this for ages and ages, but just finally got around to putting it on hold at the library after a jaunt to Elliot Bay a couple weeks ago, where it was still being touted as as a staff pick. For those living under a rock the basic story is this: Woman teetering on the brink of 30 and stuck in a dead-end job decides to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year and blog about it. Woman gets huge blog following. Woman discover self while losing her mind trying to hit the deadline. Woman MAKES the deadline–and gets a book deal.

So you can see that of COURSE I wanted to read it, even though I don’t have a huge blog following and am never going to get a book deal out of the random, rambling mess that is Nom de Plume. I particularly wanted to read it because I am working my way through a Madhur Jaffray Indian food cookbook. (Slowly, that is.) Actually, I’ve been cooking a lot lately, and I’m getting to be a decent one. But anyway.

Julie and Julia was fun. It was a good book to read last night as Xanax wended its way through my system. (I won’t bore you with my anxiety issues, only to say that I was so relieved to learn that I am not about to have a heart attack and that pharmacology is a wonderful thing.) Her descriptions of food and cooking are wonderful; I particularly remember one passage musing about liver and how it’s something you have to give yourself over to. But her descriptions of her lack of a sex life, her wacky friends, her dead-end job, and so forth weren’t nearly as riveting. And this was the problem for me: The book was too much like a blog. Or rather, it was too much like a blog that was padded with personal details to make it into a book. The only thread of continuity was the food. Everything else seemed kind of random.

Part of me feels churlish for not just adoring this book–as she puts it, Julia Child saved her life and it’s wonderful beyond measure that she was able to quit her temping jobs and write full time (and there’s no question the girl can write; she’s funny and articulate). Still, when all is said and done, and the book covers closed, and I have moved on to make two batches of soap (may chang and laurel for one; vetiver, ylang ylang, violet leaf absolute and clary sage for the other), my reaction is, “Eh.”

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