Book Review, Memoir

Book Review: Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

I was all set to like this book. Really, I was. A good friend recommended it to me, knowing that I enjoy memoirs and true-like stories. And I’d see bits and pieces of the movie, although my husband couldn’t stand it so changed the channel every time it got interesting. I enjoy cooking, I adore memoirs, and the heroine lived and worked in my old stomping grounds, New York City and Queens. What could go wrong with this book?


First off, if you’re hoping for a good memoir…forget it.  The author would have benefited from more rigorous editing.  She wanders from topic to topic, as if she’s just sort of talking off the top of her head. At first it’s rather interesting, like listening to stream of consciousness. It quickly grows tedious.

I thought this was a book about her year of cooking through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  It is, sort of. However, it is also a narration of her sex life, her early sexual experiences, finding her parent’s sex books, and her friend’s sex lives. Did I mention she’s obsessed with sex?

She also whines. A lot. About everything. “Oh, my biological clock is ticking!” she whined. She’s horrified that she might not have a baby…but she’s donated not one, but TWO of her eggs.  So let me get this straight. You allowed your body to be used for someone else’s child, probably pumped full of dangerous drugs to produce eggs, just for money — and then you want me to feel sorry for you because you’re turning 30?  I wanted to brain her upside the head with a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

The whining just goes on and on. “WHAAAAAAAAAAA! I wanted to be an actress but here I am stuck as a secretary!”  But let me see…how many auditions has she gone on? NONE. So stop whining.

“I’m stuck in a dead end job I hate! I work for horrible Republicans!”  So, let me see….have you looked for another job? No. STOP YOUR WHINING.

And the constant hatred that oozes from every sentence. If you substituted a racial name instead of the word “Republican” or “Conservative” I wonder if this book would have been made into a movie after all?

Don’t let me forget to mention maggots. As in: maggots found in her kitchen.  Her house is filthy, she calls her sweet husband an idiot, and she hates her life but does nothing but cry about it.

Oh please.

If you’re hoping for cooking stories, they’re in the book, but between the casual F-bombs dropped every other sentences (including by the author’s mother, who apparently also swears frequently) it’s tough to get through them.  I think her narration of trying to cook some of the obscure and outmoded recipes was the best part of the book.

It’s no wonder Julia Child apparently didn’t think much of the author. Julia Child had class and zest for life.  She also had good taste. Enough said.

So did I like this book? Mixed reaction, mixed feelings. I liked the premise of it; one year of cooking through an enormous tome of outdated recipes requiring obscure and exotic ingredients, all the while sandwiched into a tiny kitchen in a Queens apartment.

But I really disliked the narrator. Okay, more than disliked.

And I’m not even a Republican.

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