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.