Sunday, October 4, 2009

Review of the Day: Julie & Julia

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Julie Powell took a clever idea born of personal desperation and used it to catapult into a new career as an author. Stuck in her dead-end temp job as a government secretary, and panicking over turning 30, Powell got the harebrained idea to cook all the recipes in Julia Child’s most famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (volume one, at least), in one year. Her stroke of genius luck was to take her husband’s idea and log her daily progress on a blog she called the Julie/Julia Project, thus eventually earning her a book deal for Julie & Julia, a movie deal, and the enmity of hundreds of envious bloggers typing away in obscurity.

Unfortunately, the idea was better than the execution -- at least for readers hoping to learn about Julia Child and read about, well, cooking all the recipes in MtAoFC in one year. There is precious little discussion about Child, and not much about the cooking. Instead, ignoring the rule that “just because it happened to you does not make it interesting,” most of the book is about Powell’s dead-end temp job as a government secretary and panic over turning 30.

When Powell writes about the cooking, the book is very good -- witty, irreverent, and fresh. The passages about making Boeuf Bourguignon, her adventures with aspic, and her final triumphant duck de-boning make the book worthwhile. But digressions into Powell personal life, such as buying her friend a pink sex toy for her birthday or the sexual endowments of another friend’s married lover -- while they may be what made her blog so popular -- coarsen the story. Julie & Julia would be better with more MtAoFC and less Sex in the City.


NOTE: This was my memoir/biography choice for the Spice of Life Challenge.

OTHER REVIEWS

Book Psmith
ExUrbanis

(Many people reviewed this book. If you would like your review listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.)


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