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on 15 February 2006
I was really surprised by the previous review, as this is the best book I've read in ages. Okay, granted I'm not bothered by Julie's effing and blinding - maybe I was prepared after the blog! I was a latecomer to the Julie/Julia project but you don't need to have read her blog to enjoy this book - it's as much about Julie coming to terms with who she is and what can make her special, even in her dead end job and turning 30, as it is about Julia Child and the massive cookery/blog project. Though the cooking stories make me laugh and cringe. And I want to know what happened to all her wild friends and family! I can't wait to see what Julie does (and writes about) next. My first true classic read of 2006.
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on 9 March 2010
I bought this book having watched the film 'Julie and Julia' and loved the main characters. Amy Adams as Julie Powell was so sweet and I empathised with what she was doing in the film. The real Julie Powell though, the lady who has written this book, scares me. There is no element of sweetness about her. She doesn't focus on much of the cooking and to my horror, she is bad at it. There was something about the determination of the film Julie to keep on going and work through every recipe to detail, the book Julie gives up, substitutes ingredients and makes things very very badly. I continued to read this book to the end, hoping with each page that it would get better but for me, it didn't. I ended up getting annoyed by the writer and her self indulgent prattle, how she descibes reading the Joy of Sex as a child and compares it to MtAoFC, no way - that is just weird. She swears a lot which I don't mind except that I think it's just a lack of imagination in what to say. Overall, I felt like this book shattered my illusion of these 2 women that the film portrays. As soon as I'd seen it I came on amazon to get the book as I wanted to continue the good feelings the film gave me. My advice would be, watch the film and leave it at that. Amy Adams is lovely as Julie Powell, Meryl Streep awesome as Julia Child but the real people will grate and disappoint. Such a shame as books are normally better than the film but in this case not. I can understand now how Julia Child wanted nothing to do with Julie Powell, who would?
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on 11 December 2009
I enjoyed the book enormously as I have used MTAOFC since the sixties - I'm on my second copy as the first one fell apart after many years of frequent use.
The idea of working through the whole book, cooking every single recipe, is quite remarkable & Julie Powell writes in a very easy style.
I have not made all of the recipes & of recent years have stuck to the tried & tested so this book has somewhat inspired me to return to the index & delve deeper.
I am not an afficionado of bad language but it didn't ruin my enjoyment of the book - I just feel it is unnecessary.
A good read for any cooks - particularly those who have dabbled in MtAoFC.
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VINE VOICEon 13 May 2007
'Without the project I was nothing but a secretary on a road to nowhere, drifting towards frosted hair and menthol addiction.'

Julie Powell is in a mundane and dead-end job with a government agency when she decides to inject a bit of a challenge into her life. Her aim is to cook the 524 recipes from Julia Child's 'Mastering the Art of French Cookery' within twelve months. The book includes such wonders as: eggs poached in red wine, various food stuffs suspended in aspic, 'B*tch rice', many lobster recipes and something unspeakable made with marrowbone.

I loved this book. Powell's sense of humour and determination make it a wonderful read. You'll cheer her triumphs and commiserate over her failures (and there are many!)

Highly recommended.
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on 23 August 2006
Yes this book is very personal and certainly won't have universal appeal. But I enjoyed it a lot.

For me, sometimes what you do in your kitchen provides the most fulfilment (when your job is crap and life-direction is in short supply). Julie Powell is really good on this stuff, and on what food can mean to your life - when a potato is not just a potato, when eating a good steak dinner is what your soul needs on the anniversary of Sept 11. If you share this approach - food is lot lot more than just calories - you might get a kick out of this book.

Mind you, I did get a bit fed up with "and then the food processor went wrong and I burst into tears" tantrums. And I wished there were some recipes too - I really want to try some of these now, better add the inspiration to my amazon wish list I guess. Hence, 4 not 5 stars.

I'm re-reading it again at the moment, and getting even more out of it 2nd time around...
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VINE VOICEon 10 April 2006
I give this 5 stars for sheer enthusiasm. I bought this as a birthday present for myself and think it's just brilliant. As someone who tends to have bizarre kitchen accidents culminating in copious swearing, I guess maybe I found it comforting that someone else would admit to that. Julie is completely unpretentious in her writing -making this fairly unique among food books I've read- and makes some wonderful analogies about the dishes she is preparing. Julie & Julia is a wonderfully warm and witty book, with her enthusiasm for cooking and her friends making it a pleasure to read.
I'm surprised by the person who said it's not well-written. Sure, Julie is frank and frankly, at times, obscene. But she is, undeniably, a good writer. Her exuberance really shone through in this and I must say I found it really inspiring. It is clear at times that Julie is a relative newcomer to writing, but the thing that impressed me the most was how this slightly crazy cooking project inspired her to find and develop her unique voice. I hope she writes many more books.
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on 19 May 2010
Just like the recipes in the cookery book that is the basis for this book (and the film)this will not please everyone. A vegan friend was deeply disturbed by the various descriptions of animal carnage that litter the pages; experienced cooks and Julia Child fans alike are seemingly horrified at Julie Powell's apparent ineptitude and callous disregard for the instructions and ingredients demanded in the recipes. Personally I found the whole thing laugh out loud funny- the lobster murders in particular brought a tear to the eye (with giggles not grief)Yes Julie Powell comes across as self-absorbed, selfish, obsessive, and she swears- who doesn't these days, and at times she isn't particularly likeable but hold on a minute, doesn't that make her all the more human.I certainly haven't met any saints lately. She is clearly an intelligent woman and it's no easy thing to write yourself, warts and all. She writes with humour often at her own expense, recognising her own preoccupation with herself. It was because of this as much as in spite of it that I found the book to be very enjoyable.
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on 21 September 2009
I came to read this thinking that it would be a compilation of the blog entries with some expansion. However, it is more about the blog rather than the blog itself, that is to say how it came to be written and what was happening whilst it was written.

For that reason you don't always get a very good sense of how the project is progressing until she reaches the last couple of weeks. Also, if you come to this looking for a foodie memoir, like Nigel Slater's Toast then you're going to be sadly disappointed. A real interest in food doesn't really come across in this book (not to say that Powell doesn't have such an interest) it is more about the challenge of cooking all the recipes in one year. Also, it would have been good to have more of a sense of the connection that she felt with the readers of her blog; after all this was a niche project that garnered quite a following.

However, Powell really does get to her point in the final few pages and writes well about what the project has meant to her and what she has got from it. A skilled editor would have suggested that more of this should have come across in the rest of the book.

This is an enjoyable account but is a little bit all over the place and doesn't leave you quite full.
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on 12 September 2006
My friend lent me this book having read about it in a newspaper - I'd never heard of it, and was sceptical about the whole concept. I was completely wrong. I become so utterly absorbed in this book - I love cooking and admired Julie trying literally everthing that was thrown at her - if I'd taken on this challenge, I'm sure I would have cheated loads more than she did.

I laughed out loud several times which is not something I often do with books, I loved that you really got a sense of what a completely normal person Julie is.

I looked up her actual blog when I was halfway through, and was pleased to see the original is still kicking around, even though the 'new' blog has a new home.

I just hope Julie takes up a new challenge and writes another book, because it would be a sad loss if this is all we hear from her.
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on 3 February 2014
I will first of all say that I have seen the film inspired from this book. I will also say that the film is far, far superior (as superior as a light, frothy and romanticised movie can be), in my opinion, to the source material.

Julie and Julie is a book which is at its heart self indulgent - and as a sort of a partial memoir you expect this. However what I found jarring was the person the memoir was about. Julie Powell cries at every obstacle, throws tantrums when things go wrong, yells at her husband for no reason...and this is the picture of herself she paints. God only knows what she'd be like in reality. But in a way I liked that, at first. The reality of it all, the way she'd showed a no holds barred view of who she was. Similar to an actress going bare faced in a film - it was a little liberating and strangely fascinating. However that soon got old. Really old. Really fast. No sane, happy person would react the way she does so continuously, with so little explanation.
However, saying that, there are positives. She has a nice writing style, the project she undertook was interesting and whilst I doubt I would ever read another book by her unless it was concerning a challenge equally engrossing I didn't actively dislike this book. If there was a star rating for lukewarm water this would be the book for it. In fact the only thing which gave me pains was, you guessed it, the constant childish pessimism of the author.
If it's a weigh up I'd say watch the infinitely more interesting and enjoyable movie. It tells you a lot more about the life of Julia Child and stars the wondrous Meryl Streep - what more incentive do you need than that?!
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