Monday, February 11, 2008

Book Review: Julie & Julia

This past weekend we were in Border's, and I saw this book was clearanced. I'd heard about it in the KnitPicks podcast, so I was interested enough to buy it. It is a non-fiction book that chronicles a woman's project of cooking every single recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking within the space of a year.

As a whole, I would not give this book a positive review. Though it actually was fairly well written, had it's funny moments and included a few interesting cooking scenes, the main problem I had was my dislike of the author. She kind of struck me as whiny and dissatisfied. She was very self-centered and did not come across as responsible or even kind. Also, there is a lot of profanity in the story, and though this doesn't bother me in books or movies, I know that many people are pretty offended by it, and wouldn't like this one at all.

Through a lot of the book, she points out that she is a Democrat, and is therefore much better than and morally superior to all the terrible Republicans that she has to work with. Now, I'm not a member of either party, and see myself as a moderate, but I have problems and also admire points from candidates on both sides. What I really can't stand though, is the absolute pigeon-holing of people that seems to come out of politics. I also thought she seemed pretty hypocritical to worry so much about how unfeeling and evil Republicans supposedly are when she herself is pretty selfish and self centered.

The reason she starts her project is her general unhappiness and dissatisfaction with her life. I personally don't understand why people live in New York if all they can do is complain about living there and all they can afford in such an expensive place is a run down, broken apartment. That's sort of besides the point, I suppose, but it seems like some questionable priorities would keep you in a situation like that.

The most objectionable part of the story was her complete lack of responsibility when it came to her kitchen and cleaning dishes. She continuously describes the kitchen as filthy, sticky, cat hair covered, rotten (floorboards) and being piled high with dirty slimy dishes. Her husband is constantly washing dishes and trying to do his best to help her clean. There's even a "maggot under the dish rack" incident. The dish rack where the clean dishes get stacked! Now, I might have some pretty strong opinions on the subject, but I do believe that anyone who can't work clean and be responsible for their own messes and dish washing has absolutely no right to be cooking in a kitchen. No place in MY kitchen for people who get meat juice on the walls and won't clean, anyway. For one thing, when it comes to food, working clean is an important safety measure. For another, I think in the end, it was this aspect that showed me that she hadn't really changed or undergone any kind of insights about herself. The reason the project helps her life is because she gets a book deal out of it, not because she actually grows as a person.

There were some good points of this book. The project its self is its most redemptive feature. It is a pretty neat idea to take on an endeavor like that. I really enjoyed the cooking and learning about the recipes. But I guess when it comes down to it, I'd probably enjoy just reading through Mastering the Art of French Cooking much much more.

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Melonie said...

WOW - I'm glad you posted a review of this. I've seen it mentioned before and the author seems to be getting all sorts of rave reviews; I had thought about picking it up some time but I don't think I could handle it from the way you've described it. You've saved me a waste of time!!! Thanks! :-)

Bethany said...

Well, it's worth reading, I suppose, but I wouldn't spend money on it. And there's sure to be better choices if your reading time is limited.

I'm not really sure why people like this book so much. I think it's pretty much that they're intrigued by the premise. And the author actually is a pretty good writer. But no one seems to notice how annoying she is! lol

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