Thursday, July 23, 2009

Review: Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

I've had a copy of Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen by Julie Powell on my shelf for quite awhile. I love to read foodie type books and my copy is the original hardcover, First Edition, that was published in 2005. When I heard that there was a Julie & Julia movie being released (August 7, 2009) based on this book combined with the life of Julia Child's and afeaturing Meryl Streep based on a screenplay written by Nora Ephron....I knew that I had to pull my copy off of the shelf and read it. Because of course, I want to see the movie and I like to read the books before I see the movies, most of the time!

In August of 2002, Julie is a twenty nine year old wife and secretary living in a tiny apartment in New York City and unhappy. She's searching for fulfillment and isn't finding it in her office job. She comes up with the idea for a project to cook all of the recipes in Julia Child' Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year and write about her daily experiences in a blog. She isn't a chef but she likes to cook and her mother has a well worn copy of the cookbook that she borrows. Julie's husband and friends are supportive but her mother isn't too crazy about what Julie sets out to do.

What I liked about this book was that it was about a normal, everyday person who sets a goal for herself ,an experiment of sorts, and she blogs about it daily. This book is heartfelt and it is written based on the thoughts, experiences, frustrations and accomplishments that Julie goes through during this one year project that she writes about on her blog. Some people may be offended by her political comments and comments about 9/11 victims and families as she writes about working for a government agency that deals directly with this situation. Her comments are callous and insensitive at times but again, these are her thoughts and feelings written from her blog. She also swears.... a lot...the "F" word is used quite frequently. It didn't bother me that much but I can see that some readers may be offended. She talks about her it is changing eating so much high fat foods...and her sex life and her friends sex lives. So be warned, if this kind of stuff bothers may not want to read it.

I found it fascinating to read about all of the different foods that Julia Child's cookbook covers. There are a lot of recipes with eggs, butter, mayonnaise, beef, organ meats, duck, fish, shellfish, more butter....did I mention butter?! There is a lot of butter in Julia Child's recipes. Of course, it was interesting to read about how Julie tackled every new task at hand with vigor and quite a bit of frustration as well. I don't know if I could eat all of the organ meats...and prepare them, especially brains. Yuck, I dissected brains in anatomy class in college and that was hard enough for me. I don't think that I could cook them let alone eat them. I have eaten french food as I have been to France and my mother in law is of french heritage. She has cooked ox tails...I didn't eat them though. I have been to french restaurants and had frog legs...that is as risky as I've ever eaten. Julie did all of her cooking in a tiny kitchen in what she described in detail as not being very clean and in which a few stories could easily turn your stomach. Her husband Eric was a doll to put up with all of this for a year and he was actually quite supportive and helped Julie out on many occasion. He was her cheerleader and confidante and it had to be a rough year for them both. Now, they are reaping the benefits!

Julie Powell turned her Julie/Julia Project into a memoir, Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen . According to Wikipedia, Nora Ephron adapted the film Julie & Julia based on Julie Powell's memoir. What is so cool to me is this: Julie & Julia is "the first major motion picture based on a blog". I find that so amazing that there is actually a movie based on a! Julie Powell still maintains a blog...on can find her blog, called What could happen?, here. Julie & Julia is scheduled for an August 7, 2009 release. Meryl Streep stars as Julia Child and Amy Adams portrays Julie Powell.

If you are a foodie, a blogger, or you are just curious about this kind of book I would recommend reading it. Read it with an open mind. I enjoyed reading it as it took me to a place that I haven't experienced before and it was fun to read. It made me think about my own life and what I "projects" that I may want to tackle in the future.

I want to share a quote at the end of the book that Julie Powell writes that summarizes this book nicely:

"And that was it, really. A secretary in Queens risked her marriage and her sanity and her cats' welfare to cook all 524 recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking- a book that changed the lives of thousands of servantless American cooks-all in one year. The same year she turned thirty. It was the hardest, bravest, best thing a coward like her ever did, and she wouldn't have done it without Julia."

Interesting information on the book: The paperback was retitled Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. I mentioned above that I have the original hardcover, First Edition that was published in 2005. I was doing some searching and I was surprised to see that this edition appears to be out of print. It is selling for outlandish prices at Amazon...$61.34 for a very good condition copy and the lowest price for a new copy is $119.41.

Here's a peek at the Julia & Julia Movie Trailer:


  1. I always try to read the book first as well. Then I sit and critique the movie based on the book. And it rarely lives up to the book. So I'm thinking, maybe I should see the movie first. But then I can only see the actors instead of my own vision of the characters. What's a reader to do?

  2. I love the original cover vs. the movie version one. I've put my name in the hat for several contests of this book. Maybe I'll win. The movie looks like fun.

    Love love love Meryl Streep.

  3. Bonnie,
    I just reviewed this one the other day! I didn't like it as much as you did. It wasn't bad, just like you said, the political comments and swearing was a little off-putting. But I do want to see the movie! Great review!

  4. I read this book and I got a little bored. The movie trailers look much better than the book I think, but then that is just my opinion.

  5. I have this one on my shelf and have been reading a lot of mixed reviews. I like what you said about keeping an open mind - I'll try to do that.

  6. I didn't realize they re-titled this when the paperback came out. I loved the book, and can't wait for the movie to come out.

  7. Well look at you with a fancy first edition and didn't even know how valuable it was! How cool is that. I didn't realize that the book was out of print. When I saw the preview for this movie I also immediately thought that I needed to read it soon. I love foodie books as well. Have you read any of Ruth Reichl's books? I've only read Tender at the Bone but really enjoyed it.

  8. I've got an old paperback copy of Julie and Julia and I haven't gotten to it, yet. Thanks for the inspiration. I'll have to dig it out before I see the movie.

  9. The movie looks so good. I won a copy of this so I'm hoping it come soon.

  10. You're really made me want to read this one!

    Diary of an Eccentric


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