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Posts Tagged ‘Julie & Julia’

Finally, a book that I swear must have been written just for me.  I’m a broke, 20 year old stuck working in the campus library to make ends meet.  Julie Powell is a soon to be 30 year old, ex-theater geek who goes from temping to working for a bunch of republicans in charge of dealing with the aftermath of September 11th.  Needless to say, she does not like her job.  In fact, her life seems to be pretty mediocre.  It seems she’s living in a world where things seemed to pick her instead of her picking them.  (Do you ever feel that way, because some days I sure do.)

That is until she decides to start a wonderful culinary project: The Julie/Julia Project that is.  This project involves some wonderful things: blogging, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, lots of butter and cheese, and a few breakdowns just for good measure.  The journey that Julie takes through Julia Child’s life and cookbooks is an absolutely wonderful read.  It’s funny, witty, sarcastic at times, and completely REAL. There is no overriding editorial censor preventing Julie Powell from saying anything about her year of cooking dangerously – she admits it all.  And this is why I found the book to be incredibly heartwarming. It’s not about the project or the blog or the fame that followed the blog – it’s about Julie’s journey and how Julia inspired her to make a change in her life.  It’s about creating something outside of the miserable setbacks in your life and finding some joy.  Honestly, I think we all get to a point in our lives where a project like this becomes a necessity.  Unfortunately, we don’t all find the time to embark on said project.

Julie’s biting tongue literally makes me want to find her and immediately become her best friend – as well as the fact that she’s probably got endless amounts of cooking tips for me!  The book made me laugh out loud and read with a constant smirk on my face.  It also made me incredibly hungry.  If anything, this book will make you want to go out and start cooking Julia Child recipes.  And for those of you who don’t immediately fall head over heels for Julie Powell, you will fall in love with Julia Child.  Unlike the movie, the book is predominantly about Julie Powell with only snipets about Julia and Paul Child.  Although I love Julia Child, I enjoyed seeing Julia through Julie’s eyes.  Biographical information of Julia can be found in other pieces of literature – this book is not meant to be about Julia and I like that.  I also like the awe and respect Julie uses when speaking of her culinary hero.  Instead of getting to meet Julia Child, we meet Julie’s Julia who for the purpose of the book is absolutely sufficient and approachable.  She’s that voice in your head that guides you – a guardian angel of sorts and I love that Julie comes to realize and embrace this fact.  We should all have a hero in the back of our heads – I think it would make us all better people.

Still, the book isn’t perfect (few books are!).  Its definitely made its way into my favorites category, but that’s mostly because I loved Julie’s voice.  The plot and narrative isn’t always clear and doesn’t always flow smoothly.  Julie’s stories are frequently interrupted by other stories which left me confused as to what she was really talking about in the first place.  That didn’t make the stories any less enjoyable per se, but I would have liked everything to be a little more straight forward.  I wanted a clear timeline so I could feel like I was taking the journey through Julia’s cookbook with Julie.  I wanted to experience every success and disaster in stride with her.  But the book doesn’t chronicle every day of the project.  Instead, it merely recounts highlights and lowlights along the journey.  It’s easy enough to follow the general plot, but I’m afraid that some things might have gotten lost for me.  Maybe a second read through would smooth this out for me (and I’m sure I’ll pick this up again soon – it’s definitely one of those feel good books you want to read when you’re feeling down).

One of my favorite pieces of the book was reading about Julie’s relationship with Eric, which I found to be awfully inspiring.  They prove the importance of viewing a marriage as a partnership: he supports her even if he doesn’t always understand why she’s doing what she’s doing.  His unwavering support is beautiful and I find their marriage to be extremely inspiring.  Even after bickering or anger or frustration, they return to their roots, and remember what brought them together.  It’s definitely what I hope I’m building with Brian, my boyfriend of two years – a relationship built on the strongest bonds of friendship.  On this subject, one passage really sticks with me:

I blame Eric.  It was only because of him that I started cooking in the first place – I was a picky kid, but he was the most mysterious and beautiful boy in school, and I would cook anything to impress him, no matter how weird.  It didn’t take long for things to get twisted.

Quail in Rose Petal Sauce was the first really bad sign. (250)

As you can see, Julie’s stories and anecdotes are not only funny (hilarious at times), they are so easy to relate to!  I remember trying to cook my way into boys’ hearts all throughout high school (and absolutely adoring Like Water for Chocolate – another book I absolutely adore).  I still try to cook my way deeper into Brian’s heart.  There is something about cooking for someone else that really shows that you just love them.  It’s really beautiful and heartwarming.  Perhaps, as Julie points out, it has to do with that indescribable joy you get when you create something absolutely delicious and fulfilling out of seemingly nothing.  You take ingredients that on there own would be disgusting and turn them into a beautiful masterpiece  that gives your body nutrients and you feel complete.  At least, that’s how I feel when I make a good meal that I can share with people I love.  I feel satisfied in all the best possible ways.

Julie and her delicious, heartwarming meals won me over.  Beautiful and charming book.  Not necessarily a literary masterpiece, but definitely a must read.  Please, do yourself a favor and read this book.  Then, if you haven’t, go see the movie.  You’ll be laughing yourself to tears in both cases.

BONUS: Julie Powell will be releasing a new book entitled Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession. I can’t wait to read more from her.  There was an excerpt in the back of my copy of Julie and Julia and I devoured the ten pages … can’t wait for more!

Overall rating: A-

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As you all know, I’m reading Julie and Julia right now.  It’s a fitting book for me because it’s about a girl who starts a blog (sounds familiar, right).  I’m finding some of her excitement about getting readers to be very similar to mine.  I mean, I started the thing thinking that it would be a fun way to encourage me to make more time for reading – it has turned into a gateway for me to find friends, interesting discussion topics, and an immense selection of new reads (just to name a few).

Still, blogging feels strange to me.  I’m never really sure how much I should share.  I’m usually a very open person, but I can’t help but wonder, will people find me interesting?  Do my insights mean anything to anyone other than me?  Where do all the thought I type in here even go?  The world wide web is such an obscure thing when you really think about it (not that I really spend all that much time thinking about it, but every now and then the subject comes up.)  It’s this space where I send these long, typed strings of thought, but it’s not really tangible.  I can’t touch it like I can touch a notebook that I use for a journal.  It’s almost like it lives in some strange imaginary space that anyone can access from the comforts of well, anywhere (as long as they have a computer with internet access).  It’s exhilarating that it’s so easy to connect, but also slightly terrifying.

In Julie and Julia, Julie Powell write about “proto-blogger” Samuel Pepys who kept obsessive chronicles of his life – volume and volumes of minute details.  She summarizes her musings about him in the following exerpt:

There’s a dangerous, confessional thrill to opening up your eminently fascinating life and brain to the world at large, and the Internet makes it all so much faster and more brealthess and exciting.  But I wonder – would we still have Sam’s jack-off stories, the records of his marital spats, if he’d been a blogger rather than a diarist?  It’s one thing to chronicle your sexual and social missteps to satisfy your private masochistic urges, but sharing them with the world at large?  Surely there are some limits, aren’t there?

I would say I agree to some self-censoring on here.  I don’t want anyone to know all the private details of my life, which is why I keep a private journal as well as this blog.  Also, having a theme (book reviewing) helps me stay on track so that it’s not all about me – I don’t find myself that interesting so why would anyone else?  But there is still that lingering question – is sharing like this at all really a good thing?  It’s so easy to connect to people over a computer that I find making real connections with people in real life to be slightly terrifying.  I’ve always been socially awkward but knowing and meeting people online seems to take some of that awkward edge off.  There’s already a discussion going on and I’m just joining in so all that awkward in between time is eliminated.  Does anyone else ever feel this way?  Are these just all part of some sort of undiagnosed blog-beginner syndrome?  Am I just losing my mind from my brain-less robot job?

Any thoughts from you, dear readers, out there somwhere in the expanses of the world wide web?  Is this something you ever think about?

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Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: Pick two random sentences from your current read.

“You love me?  Who loves you?” (Super short and sweet.)

Already, I love this book!  I can’t wait to finish it and post up a full review praising it in its full glory!  Hope everyone is having a lovely, joyful Tuesday.  So far, I am.  I’m looking forward to getting off work in a couple minutes, sitting out in the sun, and digging in to this delicious guilty pleasure – similar to chocolate or ice cream (only without all the calories!) in book form.  Yummy.

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