Summary and book reviews of Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

Julie & Julia

365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen

by Julie Powell

Julie & Julia
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2005, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2006, 336 pages

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Book Summary

With the humor of Bridget Jones and the vitality of Augusten Burroughs, Julie Powell recounts how she conquered every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and saved her soul!

With the humor of Bridget Jones and the vitality of Augusten Burroughs, Julie Powell recounts how she conquered every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and saved her soul.

Julie Powell is 30-years-old, living in a rundown apartment in Queens and working at a soul-sucking secretarial job that’s going nowhere. She needs something to break the monotony of her life, and she invents a deranged assignment. She will take her mother's dog-eared copy of Julia Child's 1961 classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and she will cook all 524 recipes. In the span of one year.

At first she thinks it will be easy. But as she moves from the simple Potage Parmentier (potato soup) into the more complicated realm of aspics and crépes, she realizes there’s more to Mastering the Art of French Cooking than meets the eye. With Julia’s stern warble always in her ear, Julie haunts the local butcher, buying kidneys and sweetbreads. She sends her husband on late-night runs for yet more butter and rarely serves dinner before midnight. She discovers how to mold the perfect Orange Bavarian, the trick to extracting marrow from bone, and the intense pleasure of eating liver.

And somewhere along the line she realizes she has turned her kitchen into a miracle of creation and cuisine. She has eclipsed her life’s ordinariness through spectacular humor, hysteria, and perseverance.

DAY 1 , RECIPE 1

The Road to Hell Is
Paved with Leeks and Potatoes

As far as I know, the only evidence supporting the theory that Julia Child first made Potage Parmentier during a bad bout of ennui is her own recipe for it. She writes that Potage Parmentier- which is just a Frenchie way of saying potato soup - "smells good, tastes good, and is simplicity itself to make." It is the first recipe in the first book she ever wrote. She concedes that you can add carrots or broccoli or green beans if you want, but that seems beside the point, if what you're looking for is simplicity itself.

Simplicity itself. It sounds like poetry, doesn't it? It sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

It wasn't what my doctor ordered, though. My doctor - my gynecologist, to be specific - ordered a baby.

"There are the hormonal issues in your case, with the PCOS, you know about that already. And you are pushing thirty, after all. Look at it this way - ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Julie has such a remarkable relationship with Julia Child, despite never having met her. What did you think of the relationship that Julie built in her mind? And why does it not matter, in some sense, when Julie finds out that Julia wasn't an admirer of hers or the Project?

  2. Throughout the book, various people become involved with the Project: Julie's husband, her friends, and several of her family members. Discuss the different roles each played in the Project. Which people were most helpful and supportive? Who was occasionally obstructionist?

  3. Did you find Julie to be a likeable character? Did you relate to her insecurities, anxieties, and initial discontent? Why do you think it is that she was ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

If you're a keen home cook or a fan of memoirs, real or fictionalized, such as Bridget Jones, this is one for you; and with the holiday season coming up dangerously soon, you might also want to keep a note of Julie & Julia as a potential gift item for a domesticated relative - perhaps paired with Julia Child's autobiography My Life In France (with the caveat that Julia Child, who died while Julie was working her way through The Art of French Cookery, wasn't a fan of Julie or her project!)   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (192 words).

Media Reviews

TIME Magazine

Powell is not a domestic goddess; she's emphatically, unembarrassedly a domestic mortal. But she is also a genuinely gifted thinker and writer about food. As we learn in the account of her culinary marathon, Child's gastronomical masterpiece teaches Powell precious lessons about herself.

Publishers Weekly

Both home cooks and devotees of Bridget Jones-style dishing will be caught up in Powell's funny, sharp-tongued but generous writing.

Kirkus Reviews

Powell is a softy at heart, appreciating Child because, she says, Child "wants you to remember that you are human, and as such are entitled to that most basic of human rights, the right to eat well and enjoy life." Powell clearly enjoyed hers, with all its madness and pleasures.

Booklist - Vanessa Bush

Hilarious. Powell discovers incredible determination and hidden talents in cooking, writing and living. This is a joyful, humorous account of one woman's efforts to find meaning in her life.

Author Blurb Ann Beattie
Julie and Julia has all the ingredients of a tasty novel: it's original, funny, and slyly provocative. I also learned a lot, and I will channel Paul Child when I renovate my kitchen.

Author Blurb Mario Batali, cookbook author and 2005 James Beard Awards' Outstanding Chef of The Year.
Julie Powell's homage to Julia is inspiring, poignant and engaging. A magnificent introduction into the lives of two very interesting women.

Author Blurb Elizabeth Gilbert, author of The Last American Man
A feast, a voyage and a marvel. Julie Powell writes about cooking the way it always needed to be written about - in big, buttery, honest and lusty, gravy-dripping-down-your-chin gulps of rhapsody.

Reader Reviews

RosalieBABY

The Best Book I have EVA READ
Greetings everyone who goes on this website. This book was AMAZING. And I ain't no fluent reader nor spelling and writer for heaven sake I'm a 13 year old who has read this unbelievably funny and great book. This book was so very good I even...   Read More

Selene

Cooking Fun
Julie is in a career quandary. She is working as temp and feels under-challenged. Hence, why not spend a year cooking the entire Julia Child classic, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". This turns out to be a delightful, culinary romp through ...   Read More

coolcookie

Julie & Julia
This book is boring!!! its like reading a cookery book from start to finish zzzz. And I like cooking! Still reading it, have skipped lots of bits throughout. Can't wait to be finished with it. Maybe a good book for some people but not me!

Geraldine

Exhausted of Julie, curious of Julia
This book was picked for my book club and as the film had already been released I think we were influenced by Meryl Streep on the cover. I digress,I found this book very difficult.. Julie Powell is so self absorbed and moany. she tries far too hard ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Julie Powell says... 'My answer to "what's your favorite read" changes every time I'm asked it, but I can say that as far as cookbook authors, Paul Prudhomme*, Andries de Groot and, yes, Nigella Lawson are folks I enormously admire. Elizabeth Gilbert is a fantastic writer as well as a great person, and I look forward to her next book with bated breath. I am in awe of Alice Munro. As a kid I was a bit of a sci-fi and fantasy geek, and read Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's trilogy on a bi-yearly basis, and was a ...

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