The Kitchen Reader: Julie and Julia

September 30, 2009

September’s selection for The Kitchen Reader is Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell. I first learned about the book when I read this article in the New York Times. That was in 2006, and sometime after that I found the book at Half Price Books and picked it up. So it’s been a while since I read it, but I pulled it off the shelf to refresh my memory.


This is the pre-movie book cover
Image courtesy of Amazon.com

When the book starts out, Powell is “pushing 30,” and is working in a stressful job that she doesn’t enjoy. In the interest of doing something with her life, she decides to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. And, thanks to a suggestion from her husband, she starts a blog (this was in 2002 when not many people knew what a blog was). Oh, and she wasn’t much of a cook and had never eaten an egg on its own. Did she really know what she was getting into?

Some of the things that come to mind when I remember reading this book are:

  • Powell cooking a live lobster. Ick! That incident is also a memorable scene from the movie.
  • Aspic. I can’t remember how many aspic recipes are in the cookbook, but it sure seemed like a lot when she was making them.
  • I felt full just from reading about all the food. I was amazed that on the nights she didn’t cook, they would make burgers or order pizza. After all that heavy French food, that’s the last thing I think I’d be in the mood for.
  • Despite all the challenges (in the kitchen and in her personal life), she did it!

I can’t talk about the book without bringing up the movie. If you want a more authentic story about how her project started and a lot more details about how the project went, including her personal life at the time, you should read the book. The movie, with its limited time for details, can’t possibly cover everything that’s in the book. The movie does, however, provide many more details of Julia Child’s life than the book does. I enjoyed both the book and the movie and if you already saw the movie, you could still enjoy the book. They’re both good in their own right and there’s not really a “spoiler” to worry about.

Be sure to check out what the other members of The Kitchen Reader thought about the book.

Bon Appétit!


  1. Great review Jill. I agree with your comemnt on the takeaway food they relished in their downtime – ugh!

  2. Wonderful review…and I agree, there just wasn’t enough Julia in this book.

    I believe I would have ramen noodles on my nights off…or at the very least a salad!

  3. After refreshing myself on the book, I think I need to see the movie now!

  4. I saw the movie and then read the book. I thought both were entertaining. I can’t imagine tackling some of those recipes. Aspic? Gross. Better her than us. 🙂

  5. It was hard for me to believe too that someone who had never eaten an egg would be willing to tackle such a wide variety of unusual foods! And I just don’t think I could eat such rich food every day without getting tired of it.

    I haven’t seen the movie yet – maybe after reading My Live in France.

  6. I’m sad I missed this one. I did see the movie though- does that count for anything?!

  7. I really didn’t like the book so much – I found it very hard to get into. The movie was better – and that’s usually not the case.

    But I agree – I wasn’t hungry for days after the movie or the book – all that food!

  8. I love Julia Child but I have not read this book yet. It sounds interesting.

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