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426 of 469 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2009
Don't buy the book based on your opinion of the movie. I took my niece to see the movie and we loved it - Meryl Streep was, naturally, beyond amazing, while Amy Adams was charming. Nora Ephron was wise to do what she did with this story, because the real Julie Powell is quite insufferable, hardly an ideal role model for waking up one's life.

As far as the foul language goes...a well-placed swear word can add realism and punch to a story, but overuse of profanity by an author is, in this writer's opinion, not only offensive and jarring, but worse, downright lazy. If you have to rely so heavily on swear words, then you're only proving that you are unable to express yourself in print with any degree of finesse.

A lot of reviewers who gave this book a bad rating used the word "whiny." It is not misplaced, I assure you. I love humorous life stories in which a protagonist tries to make sense of things by embarking on journey of self-discovery through a special project, but, rather than being full of fun foibles, poignant moments, and growing insight, this author shows a character who is narcissistic, snobbish and insufferable. I'm not a republican or a Bush fan, either, but I absolutely LOATHE people who exhibit such blatant disrespect for other people's views, opinions, and beliefs (reminds me of Helen Goode on "The Goode Family," who whines to her husband, that it IS good to respect others, just "not them!"). Apparently, if you disagree with Julie Powell, you're just stupid.

I didn't come out of this too badly myself: I enjoyed the movie, am relieved I didn't spend money on the book, and interested in learning more about Julia Child, who sounds like an amazing person as well as an exceptional cook. As far as this trite goes, however...well, now it makes sense to me that Julia Child reacted to it the way she did (I'll give Powell this much: she was very gracious about Child's reaction, though she should be, since Child turned out to be her bread and butter). Too bad such a great idea was handled by such an emotionally immature individual.

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226 of 253 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2007
The jacket gushes, "Julie Powell writes about cooking the way it always needed to be written about."

No, she doesn't. She writes about her friends' dysfunctional sex lives, about her own barely-controlled anger management issues, and about how much city life sucks for the less-than rich. But she writes very little about cooking.

She also has a rather limited vocabulary, substituting liberal amounts of profanity. This gets old quickly, too.

I threw this away unfinished; I didn't want to be responsible for anyone else wasting time on this book by giving it away. Fortunately it was cheap.
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259 of 302 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2009
Many a blog turned book falls into the "nothing new" trap; what we get on paper is just a reproduction of what we got on the screen. In her attempt to escape this pitfall, Julie Powell goes to the opposite extreme and tries to do way too much. The premise lured me in: approaching 30 and flitting from one temp job to the next, Powell attempts to do the improbable, tackle all of the 524 recipes found in the first volume of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in one calendar year. What could have been an interesting story of using a culinary challenge to provide structure and direction to an otherwise chaotic New York lifestyle turns into a book with an identity crisis. Part memoir about family and friends and life in New York, part story of getting closer to Julia Child through her iconic cookbook, part recounting the blogging experience near the time of its inception, part fictional re-imagining of the relationship between Paul and Julia Child - the book felt like a shouting match between styles and genres each fighting fiercely for attention.

Was the book diverting? Yes, and sometimes it was hilarious. However, there are a number of books out there that successfully do what Powell is attempting here. If you have your heart set on reading this book, go for it. However, I would also like to offer the following recommendations depending on what drove you to look at this book up in the first place:

If you are interested in Julia Child and how she (and others) have influenced American cuisine, I suggest The United States of Arugula: The Sun Dried, Cold Pressed, Dark Roasted, Extra Virgin Story of the American Food Revolution.

If you are looking for a food memoir, someone learning about cuisine to better understand themselves and a culture, try Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China.

If New York is the draw, Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise is written by the former restaurant critic of The New York Times and includes stories of restaurants (with reviews), home cooking, and some tempting recipes.

If you are looking for great, laugh out loud memoir that actually pulls off the blog-to-book transition, but does not have much to do with food, pick up Bitter is the New Black : Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass,Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office

There has been a huge surge in the publication of food-related books over the past few years and many of them are excellent, but "Julie and Julia" is just not one of them.
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192 of 224 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 31, 2007
A friend of mine lent me Julie & Julia at a point when I needed something to cheer me up. I have to admit that few things make me more suspicious than a book that derived from a blog. I also have a pretty low tolerance for chick lit in general, and this smelled like chick lit to me.

But anyhow. Despite going into the book with poor expectations, I was pleasantly surprised. I found it well-written and it felt honest. It had several laugh-out-loud moments. Best of all, I found myself genuinely liking the narrator/author. It was good fun. And that was exactly what I wanted it to be.

Although you can get some foodie kicks from Julie & Julia, it is not really about food. Do not read the book if you are looking for technical details, deep reflection about Julia Childs and French cooking, or kitchen tips and tricks. It is not that kind of book. Think light read with cooking as a kind of character quest.

One quarrel-- in her author's note Powell declares that "sometimes she just makes stuff up". That made me less comfortable with the book, honestly. As a memoir it has a lot of charm. As a novel, it has much less interest. I am not sure why that should be the case, but it took a little bit of the shine off for me to see that note at the beginning.

Anyhow. If, like me, you are looking for some cheering up then this could be a book for you. Bonus points if you find yourself an urbanite with a foodie-wannabee cooking habit, because then the funny parts are going to be even funnier. I had to wince when remembering some of my own attempts at homemade mayonnaise. Recommended.
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132 of 153 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2008
Because this project has what I consider to be an irresistible premise and because a friend described the book as "funny," I was excited to read it. On the surface, I have a good deal in common with Julie Powell. We are close in age and background, similar in work history, and both enjoy good food, good drinks, cursing and leaving the cleaning to someone else.

After reading this book, if someone were to tell me I reminded them of Julie Powell, I would commit hari-kari. She is terribly unpleasant, self-absorbed and repellant. All of the characteristics with which I could identify are completely reduced to rubble in her hands. I find myself never wanting to hear or use the F-word ever again, and even I was repulsed by her disgusting apartment. I had to skip most of the passage involving maggots lest I lose my lunch. All the tales of sticky cat hair, brackish flooded fixtures and rotting floors didn't help either. I read most of the book with that look on my face people have when something nearby stinks.

I assume she was attempting humor and exaggerating many of her misadventures and personality flaws, but the end result is that I loathe her as a fellow human being and wish ill upon her. Her heartless exposure of her friends' and family's personal lives is inexcusable (and dull) and her husband appears to be a combination saint/fool for putting up with her. Powell hates the project, hates her job, dislikes her husband (she mentions her frequent desire to beat his head with sharp rocks. I mean really! Eric! Run for your life!), disdains her friends, scorns her mother, disrespects Julia Child and admires only her cats and her brother.

In its relentlessly bleak tone and insistence on examining the lives of detestable characters, this book reminds me of A Confederacy of Dunces. Another supreme waste of time and positive energy.

I think the lesson to be learned here is that a blogger does not an author make. The publishing industry needs to be really careful about offering book deals to just any successful blog author. Any fool with an internet connection can create a blog, after all. That doesn't mean they are worthy of anyone else's time or attention.
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118 of 139 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2005
whiny sitcoms, this is not the book for you. Like others, I was hoping for the details of Julie's journey working her way through Julia Child's first book. I could care less about the profanity or the politics (although the latter just got annoyingly tiresome even for this liberal), it's just the whining. My God! how the woman whines. And moans. And mopes. Some books make you glad, others make you cranky; this one leaves me with the urge to grab the author by the shoulders, give her a good shake and yell, "Stop whining!! My 9 year old niece whines less than you!" And tip for Julie--any recipes you had problems with were because a) you have no clue how to cook and b) you were too distracted whining to follow a recipe. I wish 0 stars were allowed in reviews--oh, I know! I'll whine about it. It seems to work for Julie.
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85 of 100 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2006
As an avid blogger and foodie, I looked forward to buying this book for over a year. Now that I have it, I can't even finish reading it. Powell is not only a bad cook but a bad writer as well.

This book doesn't stick with any audience. Bloggers think it's overrated. Foodies think it's insulting to Julia Child. Readers feel it's a bad piece of writing. Overall, it's just bad. On top of everything else, her constant b*tching about her botched recipes got on my last nerve.

Boring and not really about anything, this book is as bland as an unseasoned chicken breast.
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265 of 321 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2005
I'm going to try to be as objective as possible since I was an editor for many years and would like to voice what I think the actual issues with the book are. Starting with the title: Julie and Julia, 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. This, to me says funny, light-hearted adventures in cooking ala the comedic genius of Julia Child. Not so. It's more of a memoir that is a bit dark at times. The title, I feel, misrepresents the content but this is only minor. The book jacket was extremely well done and actually reminded me of the first episode on the Julia Child French Chef DVD where she tries to use "conviction" to flip potatoes in the pan and a big hunk lands on the stove and she declares "well, that didn't go so well!" Hilarious stuff and she wasn't even trying to be funny.

Next, the author's opinions about republicans, the president, 9/11 victims etc... I don't have any objection to anyone having strong opinions. Many times, if something is controversial, it actually helps a book sell more copies and is often exactly what a publisher might have in mind right from the start. Where this fails is in the frequency of the remarks. Exhausting. Really good authors need only to mention something once to get a point across. In this case, anyone who is buying a book about someone as significant as Julia Child is likely part of a demographic that is educated and sharp enough to understand the author's position in one go. It was a bit in your face at times. And though the author may have been honest about her feelings with regard to 9/11 families, victims et al., there seemed to be a lack of general humanity in the tone of it - not that she actually felt a certain way but how she put it out for the world to read. The issue here in my opinion (and her editors should really take responsibility for this) is that anyone's first book is critical to that author's ability to make an impression and gain a reputation - one that will help push a career forward. You don't want to insult any group of people your first time around the block. Successful opinion-giving comes with getting your readers to trust and respect your opinions before hitting the sensitive areas. Everything is about timing. You can say anything and get away with it if you give it the proper placement. What all good authors want (and need) is to reach a wide audience particularly on the first go. You want to appeal to a variety of people unless you are writing a high tech book about some new technology/product/whatever that only affects a niche. And really good readers - the caliber of what any author would want - remember these critical first books and the impressions made. I'm guessing that there's the possiblility that the publisher pushed this through the system before it was ready to go in order to get it on the market in time for the gift-giving season. But I think a disservice was done to the author because it really needed a bit more work. She wasn't a trained, practiced writer. She could have used more time and assistance but, sadly, editorial help is no longer what it used to be. Anyway, specific examples include the beginning of the book. All of the gynecological stuff might have been better later in the book. The first few pages of the book seemed to be a forced reproduction of the first few pages in the Devil Wears Prada where the secretary is driving around trying to get too much done and everything is going wrong in the circumstances that she finds herself in - all beyond her control. Why it works in the Devil Wears Prada is because that woman is actually writing about what the book is about. Julie and Julia opens up with the author in the gynecologist's office getting bad news while the doctor is wiping off his speculum. (A book about food begins with a gynecologist wiping off his speculum? No no no!) And somewhere from there it goes on about selling her eggs to pay off debt. And then she's in the subway with severe body odor and everyone is crazy and somehow she ends up at the market and she's purchased the items for potato soup. It doesn't work because there was too much information - the type of information that is better given later - after the reader starts to feel like he or she knows the writer and would be more comfortable getting such intimate details. I would have also suggested removing the sections on Paul and Julia because it was off-focus and didn't bring anything to the memoir. Less is always more. Well, you get the point. The author may still sell a lot of copies since the title is a bit deceiving but she will probably have fewer repeat buyers if a second book is in her future.

Marketing is the last thing I'll mention. This is clearly a book suited to a certain age group - late 20s/early 30s. The problem is with the fact that Julia Child is an icon, a pioneer really, and she appeals to a lot of people, especially people who have been watching her shows since the beginning and reading her books (the first-edition buyers). It should have been marketed to the specific demographic than as broadly as it was (because of the misinterpretation of the title). Though many younger people would be fine with most of the book, the tone, the language and opinions, I would say that the over 50 crowd might not be OK with all of the profanity, sexual references and general unhappiness that overwhelms what the focus of the book was meant to be - a book about trying to cook all of Julia's recipes in one year in one small place. And unfortunately, many of these hard-core Julia devotees won't really get what the book is about until after they've spent the bucks and are angry about it. I was also left with the impression that Julie didn't really like Julia all that much. I'm curious to see how her next project compares to this. It will be very telling.
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72 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2009
This book is dreadful. Not only is it poorly written because Julie Powell over-writes, but because Julie Powell and her life come across as shallow. Thank goodness Julia Child or Judith Jones never met her and I wish I had never bought her book. Don't waste your money. I'm sure Julie Powell is laughing all the way to the bank for those of us who were duped into buying her book thinking it would focus on food and life rather than a cheap attempt to garner fame and ... money. She doesn't even try to hide her objective. Because of so much negative publicity and the critics slamming the "Julie" part of the Julie & Julia movie, hopefully others will not make the mistake of buying this book or any others she may write.

Instead, I recommend My Life in France or any of Julia Child's other books. There, you find an authentic, unpretentious person with a true passion for food and life. Julia Child is inspiring and authentic -- everything Julie Powell is not. If you're looking for a true food book, not a gimmick, stick with the real Julia.

I'm putting my Julie & Julia book in the recycle bin.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2009
I've been a Julia Child fan for a long time, so when I stumbled on this book (I'm behind the literary times here; I know it's been out for a while, and her blog was written years ago), I was skeptical. I thought it sounded gimmicky. But thanks to the free sample option on my kindle, I read the beginning of the book. And I loved it! So I downloaded it and absolutely devoured the rest of it in a matter of hours, and there was nothing my newborn or my two year old (or my husband, for that matter) could do to stop me.
Now, you have to know what this book is, and what it is not. It's not a rehashing of JC's recipes, or an assessment whether the author succeeded or failed in her attempts to make all 524 recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. It's not a paean to Julia Child, or to french cooking in general, or an attempt by the author to toot her own horn over her culinary skills (except for the deboned duck, which was well warranted); after reading about her filthy kitchen, as a matter of fact, I'm not sure ANYONE should eat Julie Powell's cooking, french or not. What this book is, is a memoir by a young woman lost and full of no small amount of despair in her everyday life. And she found purpose and enthusiasm for her life thanks to Julia Child. Does that sound hokey? Maybe. But Julie Powell pulls it off, and she does it in a damn funny and engaging way. Her voice is fresh and real; she sounds just like who she is: an almost 30-something. She swears; she's irreverent; she throws tantrums not unlike the ones I wanted to throw when I was her age.
Some reviewers have objected to her language, but balls to that. And some have said she is disrespectful towards Republicans and about 9/11. She certainly is bitter and ascerbic towards the GOP and its supporters, and when you put this in historical context, it makes absolute sense, especially for her age group. On the matter of 9/11, I think that's just over it. She's a New Yorker; she lived it, and continued to have to face the repercussions of it every day thanks to the job that she had. She just doesn't have the reverence for 9/11 that so many do - and I think that it's justified. In any case, it's a small part of the book. Another reviewer says that they walked away feeling that Julie didn't even like Julia Child. This reviewer must not have read the book, or at least very much of it, because it's very, very clear throughout that Julie admires and even adores Julia, so much so that she basically creates an imaginary friend Julia Child for herself, to keep herself going. I love it. I think its a beautiful tribute to a woman who lived life with verve.
I'm really looking forward to hearing more from this authentic and hilarious author. Way to go, Julie! I hold my vodka gimlet high in your honor!
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Customers who viewed this also viewed
Julie & Julia
Julie & Julia by Meryl Streep (DVD - 2009)

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 by Julia Child (Hardcover - October 16, 2001)

My Life in France
My Life in France by Julia Child (Paperback - October 9, 2007)

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