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Showing 1-10 of 116 reviews(2 star). Show all reviews
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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on November 19, 2005
I have followed her weblog for a while. it was interesting and amusing. Her weblog entries were fun to read. just day to day ramblings. She really did not care what people thought about her writing style or content. That all seems lost in the book. I can only guess that she had to please an editor and a publisher and supply more then just a journal. they wanted a bio.

The weblog made her sound like a smart person with sardonic wit. One of those people you just like to hang around with, they know just how much to say without boring everyone. After reading the book I do not want to know her.. I do not think I would get a word in edgewise or I would fall asleep from boredom
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on September 18, 2013
What a great book this could have been if it weren't for Julie Powell writing it (and if it had a good editor insisting she clean it up with all the unnecessary and annoying and off-putting foul language).

No wonder Julia Child and Judith Jones were so turned off by it.

Yes, people speak like this sometimes in real life, but real life isn't a book, and yes, one can see at times that Powell is trying to be flippant or channel Erma Bombeck and her ilk, but it comes off here as perhaps a bit too true. Frankly, we just don't like the writer, and so we disengage from trusting in her as she spins what could have been a very interesting story.

Worse, one can see through references, allusions, and so on that Powell is obviously intelligent, but what a waste she has to muck it up with all the language. It just gets hard to take, page after page (and listening from Audible, the mispronunciation of everything French hurts the experience as well).

I bought this book the day it hit store shelves, just found it, no review first. It's now eight years later and I'm just finally forcing myself to get through it. I've tried. It's just so off-putting in so many ways.

While I might cook a recipe from Julia Child regularly, I would never invite Julie Powell to any of my dinner parties.

Julia will live on in print, and the film version of Juie & Julia (wisely cleaned up for the masses by Nora Ephron, et al.), long after Julie Powell is just a bad memory, like a bad taste that lingers, long after you think it should be gone.
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on January 3, 2006
I wanted to like this book. I've curled up with it a couple times now, thinking that I was just being difficult and should give it another chance. I absolutely love Laurie Colwin's writing, surely I should enjoy this. But I just didn't. I can't explain why sometimes cranky writing is warm and endearing and sometimes it isn't, but something is lacking in this book. And while it's true that she tracks down such things as bone marrow and squab for authenticity's sake, she misses another recipe's texture completely because she doesn't have a cooking thermometer. Surely every grocery store with even a handful of implements for sale offers a cooking thermometer (probably for less than the cost of a squab)?
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on February 18, 2010
Let me preface this by saying that I only got this book based on the fact that I loved the film. In my experience the books are always better than the film, so it was with much much anticipation that I got this novel. In fact I bought it in December and saved it to read on my honeymoon in Feb. I was that excited.

By the time I got half way through, I was wondering if I was somehow able to get a refund, even a partial one.

To say this book is the most awful thing I have ever read is wrong. But it is up there with some real doozies.

The problem for me is three fold... 1. Julie Powell is NOT a professional writer. Not by a long shot. The writing lacks the flow needed to take the reader from one idea to the next. Instead, she jumps around so frequently that I found myself turning pages to see if I had accidentally skipped ahead. Her use of brackets is astonishing. She uses these as a way of avoiding paragraphs. The bracket starts and 15 sentences later she is still rambling on about something or other). Oh, and it would be nice if the brackets closed too... Unlike in the film which made Julie a wanna-be writer, the real Julie is a frustrated actress, and boy does it show. Which brings me to point 2.

The Julie Powell the writer is a self-obsessed, neurotic, narcissistic drama queen. And worse - she's the BORING kind who thinks that her little idiosyncracies make her somewhat exciting. Blerg!!! Her contempt for the people around her who lead way more interesting lives is astonishing, and can be summerised for me in the spat attack she had when her brother dared hint that perhaps her friend is NOT THE MARRYING KIND. Of course dear Julie straight away thinks that he is saying that she is, and causes an argument. She is an awful character. And what makes this worse is that this is not a made up character, unless Julie decided to take some creative flair. Either way, real or not, the Julie in the book is so unlikeable that reading about her, through her eyes, is a journey into culinary hell.

3. I was hoping for some passion, some love of food in this book. But no. Rather, the cooking part is just the hook to make you buy this book. Julie appears to hate cooking, and her descriptions of food are so mundane that I found myself losing my appetite. Books that concern cooking should make you salivate. A brilliant example of a writer who paints food with his words in Anthony Bourdain. Perhaps dear Julie could call him up and ask for a lesson...

There is so much more I could say, but at the end of the day I couldn't bring myself to even finish this book. Life is too short to waste on purile trash. Avoid avoid avoid!!
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on March 8, 2006
I picked up this book because of its amazingly cute cover. I ultimately put the book down 3/4 of the way through because I just couldn't stand to read one more entry in which the author freaks out again. I loved the idea of the book and just to be fair I went and checked out the authors blog. It is indeed hilarious and I could see why the book was much anticipated among her followers. Surprisingly enough, many people had no idea that the book doesn't contain any actual recipes. To those particular reviewers, I say shame on you b/c the very least you could have done was skim through the book prior to buying it or taking it out of the library. I knew instantly that it didn't have any recipies. Like DUH!!!!! Anyway, I gave this book 2 stars b/c the quality of the writing was not that good and the author is very whiny. I was especially disgusted by her comments on 9/11. I felt that they were so cold and careless to the victims and her lack of work ethic (or whatever you want to call it) was APPALLING. Unlike other chick lit authors whose characters struggle throughout the book to find a new job/man/etc.. all this author did was whine and complain about it. I have no patience for that and as a NYS taxpayer I could not help but wonder did she write her blog while at work? Obviously she hated everything about her job and wouldn't quit until the book deal was done as far as I could tell. I also disliked the political bashing - mainly b/c I felt it added nothing to her "quest". And speaking of quest... I get that Julie was on a "quest" to finish something she started. But really, who cares? It just wasn't that funny... As far as the cursing is concerned, I could care less. I noticed it and then I moved on. Perhaps this book would be better on audio tape. I suspect it might but only if you take it out of the library. No way in Julia Child's worst nightmare would I pay for it!
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on November 29, 2009
I sort of OD'ed on this. First I thoroughly enjoyed reading Julia Child's My Life in France. Despite Child's own confessions of arrogance and hostility, I willingly went to Julie and Julia, the movie, and enjoyed it, too. Then a friend gave me the book Julie and Julia, and I decided that it wouldn't hurt me to read it. Big waste of time.
At one point I thought I had left it on an airplane, and when my husband urged me to talk my way back onboard, I waved him off saying that the book wasn't worth it. But it appeared in my carry-on after all.
So, I finished the book. I give it a solid "C".
Here's my lingering question: WHERE did Hollywood come up with that darling Amy Adams to render the part of the sharp-tongued, crude, and egocentric Julie Powell in this book? Let's just all agree that it gave Powell a lot of undeserved credit.
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on September 6, 2010
I bought this book along with My Life in France. Julia's book is fantastic. It's witty, interesting, fun and inspiring. Julie's book is the exact opposite.

Believe all of the lousy reviews. She's whiny, bitter, angry, mean-spirited and boring. She reminds me of a child who makes a joke, and then has to repeat it fifteen times, just in case you didn't get it the first time. To save you the money and time here's a synopsis of the book: she hates Republicans (she really crowbars that into the book about 100 times, even when it's totally irrelevant); she's a wench towards her poor husband, who should probably run screaming from her before she completes psychologically castrating him; she somehow seems to think she has some sort of equality to Julia Child, which is just insulting. Ms Child had class, style and respected everyone she ever encountered. The broad that wrote this book is just a pompous snot.

I gave it two stars because the vignettes between chapters gives some additional insight into Julia Child. My advice is to go to the bookstore, read these parts and then move on with your life. It's too short to waste on Julie Powell's pathetic, pointless drivel.
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on August 4, 2010
The feeling of sheer relief at having just finished this book might actually make my review slightly more generous than if I had written it when I still had a few dozen pages to slog through. That being said, it was a Herculean effort to not toss this self-indulgent mess across the room 300+ pages ago and instead actually make it to the end.

First things first. Powell has to be the most narcissistic, neurotic, whiney, self-absorbed and ungrateful person I have encountered on paper. The scope of her self-absorption is something one encounters in a petulant teenager, but as 30 year old woman Powell seems to have retained that center-of-the-universe egoism, as well as the teenage angst. Her long-suffering husband Eric must be going for sainthood. Powell's dissatisfaction with all that is her life grows tiresome quickly. (I suppose reading about anyone else's identity crisis always is.) And her contempt for countless others knows no bounds. Republicans, Mid-Westerners, non-theater geeks, grieving families of 9/11 victims, co-workers, friends... and basically anyone she deems too uncool for her psudeo-hipster self. Lovely.

There seemed to be little continuity to the book. I had difficulty keeping track of time and Powell seemed to backtrack often. Add to this the constant filler of details and anecdotes about family and friends alike. While I was hoping for a real entry into Powell's day to day project, I could have done without the revelation of her father's extramarital affair, her friend's bizarre dream analysis, and another friend's sexual encounters with a married co-worker.

As a foodie, I picked up Julie & Julia hoping to be entertained by the magic of a meal well made. But that is not what Powell has shared. While I can admire the fact that she took on such a daunting project, I'm left wishing I had borrowed this one from the library and saved my eight bucks.
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on December 21, 2005
Just before a quick trip to France I plucked the abridged audio book of Julie & Julia off my desk and tossed it into my carry-on bag. It seemed fitting to listen to a book about Julia Child and her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, while winging my way to France.

Since I'd heard a great deal about the book, I later read the actual book to compare it to the abridged audio version.

The author reads the audio book and does a brilliant job. As someone who dislikes anything and everything about cooking, I admired her perseverance in tackling such a huge project in one year.

Powell writes in a manner that could be termed a quirky stream of consciousness that is interesting and often quite funny. Generally I enjoyed her offbeat writing and the people that make up the landscape of her life. At other times I found her coarse, juvenile, whiny and disrespectful in a way that wasn't at all funny. It was trite and disrespectful and made her look uncaring.

I found her generalization and stereotyping of Republicans as evil people, sad yet interesting, since Democrats call for the acceptance of diverse beliefs. Apparently that only goes for them and not others. As a Kennedy Democrat of yesteryear I was embarrassed. Somehow the title didn't fit Powell's banal rants. Her language certainly was surprising. And then there were the 9/11 references. I wanted to discontinue at that point. Her disdain for the victims families, well, I have no words to adequately express my feelings.

That said, Powell exhibits talent and is free to express her beliefs. I hope she puts it to better use in her next outing. Perhaps she'll grow up a bit, and latch on to some wisdom before then. I hope so because she has a gift that needs some fine-tuning and direction. If she doesn't, she might find that she's lost fifty percent of her audience. Maybe more if you include the older folks of similar political leanings.

Armchair Interviews says: This book could have and should have been brilliant. It's not. And it is not a book about Julia Child and cooking. Those in their 20s and 30s will probably enjoy it far more than those of us over fifty.
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