Vacation Reading: Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia was not on my Vacation Reading List when I left home. I didn’t plan to read it because I saw the movie, and while I liked it quite a bit, I figured I already knew the story and the book might be a let-down. But as I was searching for Julia Child’s My Life in France, this book appeared in the search results so on a whim I downloaded the preview and started reading. I. WAS. HOOKED.

You can say what you will about the character of Julie Powell, but she is a fantastic writer — if you can overlook her penchant for vulgarity and her constant sexual reverences and her derision of anyone with a Republican voting registration. But besides all that, it’s a great read.

LOL. No, really.  It is.

Right from the get-go, I was drawn into her world. I feel like I knew her better after the first chapter of her book than I did after watching her entire movie. I can see how her blog would have been wildly popular. She has just the right combination of candor and vulnerability, although I often wonder if her husband and friends mind her sharing so much about their private lives. I know mine would have me drawn and quartered if I was so blatant with our personal information, but of course it’s just that kind of candor that brings people back for more.

Perhaps part of the reason I enjoy her is that I can relate so well to her emotional ups and downs. Besides our obvious blogging and cooking commonalities, I have been known to fly off the handle at minor annoyances, even though I detest that aspect of my personality and would never admit to the kind of fits Julie describes. But I can certainly relate, and I admire her honesty. Our similarities end, however, with our housekeeping. I was so totally grossed out by her description of her sticky, dusty surfaces and grease stained walls. I can only hope she was exaggerating, but when I got to the part about the maggots – well, you just have to read it. *shudder*

A departure from the movie that I didn’t expect was that the book was far more about Julie than Julia. I was a bit disappointed by that, but now I’m looking forward to reading My Life In France that much more. And I guess it is appropriate, as the book is Julie’s story after all. The movie did a great job bringing Julia to life, but the book is definitely Julie’s.

I have no trouble understanding why Julia Child was not impressed with Julie Powell, although I sympathize Julie’s disappointment of course. In the prologue to My Life In France, Julia’s nephew, who co-wrote the book, explained that Julia was a very private person. I would add that she was also of a different era. The transparency of the blogging medium is unique to our age, and I’m sure she was mortified by much of Julie’s conjecturing.

Nevertheless, it made for an entertaining read, and I’m always intrigued by true stories so this was right up my alley.

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15 Responses

  1. Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 I’m glad that Julia’s “rejection” makes sense to you when you read the book. I was baffled by that in the movie and I felt so bad for Julie!!

    1. Yeah, I felt the same way. But it makes sense, especially after reading My Life In France, which I have now just finished.

  2. You are truly making me want a Kindle more and more!!! I would love to read such fun books on vacation coming up….oh how I can dream! 🙂 Thank you for recommending this book, I’m going to add it to my summer reading list!

  3. I felt bad for Julie too. I was like, “but she loves you so much.” But I do think I would love to read both of those books after seeing the movie.

  4. I loved this book too. I read it many years ago, LOVED the movie, and then read My Life in France, since the movie was based on it as well. Such an interesting story.

    I am curious about re-reading Julie and Julia, but I think that of the 3 projects — the movie tells the loveliest, most touching story. The combination of the 2 books is just perfect.

    1. Yes, I agree. I thought it combined the stories beautifully. A couple things I noted though. Nowhere in the book does Julia express major regret that she can’t have kids. They seemed to play that up in the movie as a cause of some heartbreak. In the book she seemed very matter-of-fact about it. And there was something else I noticed as I read, but now I can’t recall what it was. I guess it was accurate for the most part, though.

  5. I read Julie and Julia way before the movie … and I agree with all you “excepts” that she’s a good writer. She does divulge A LOT of personal things–you should read Cleaving. It frightened me. Her character is nothing to write home about but as a writer she’s very interesting.

  6. I think my review would have been pretty similar to yours, though the vulgarity and sexual references really, really put me off Julie as a person. However, I came away inspired to be a better cook and to track down my own copies of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Thanks to my mom, I have volume one. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I think I will make it a priority.

    1. The movie is truly fantastic. And I was looking at MtAoFC this morning at a local cooking store. I think I am going to add that to my wish list.

  7. I suppose it is good I have yet to pick up the book because the movie had me wanting to hear more about Julia (who I have always adored) and thinking there ought to be less of Julie in it! I was secretly thrilled to hear Julia did not think much of her…sort of validated my own feelings.
    So to give Julie a fair shake maybe I shall consider reading the book.

  8. Loved the movie! The book – not. The movie inspired me, the book irritated me. Looks like I’m the only one so far on your commentors. Oh well. LOL.

    BTW, Cleaving is her second book. She is now a meat cutter.

  9. I am a NEWBORN when I comes to blogging. In fact I commented on the Julie & Julia movie in my very first post. I revamped my blog today and I am running the circuit of link parties and what not. I found you and I am SO happy I did.

    This book is in my to-read list. I’m really interested in it now! If only I can get my head out of these Paranormal Romance Novels!

    Thanks for the “button” help.

  10. I guess I’ll be adding the book to my reading list now. I really didn’t want to read “the movie” again, especially if I had to read all about Julia again. I really wasn’t interested in her half of the movie LOL

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