This book is a bit like a bath bubble. It’s fun and fluffy, looks delightful to look at while you’re soaking in the bath, but when it’s over, there’s not much left. It’s chick-lit in a sense, but without the fiction part. Yes, it reads like a super-long, chatty, girlfriend blog post, a bit all over the place, but I say it in the positive way: if I’d had been aware of blogs back in 2002, I would have been hooked too (what I was hooked on back in 2002 is another story).
I know that some found Julie’s voice whiny and annoying, but I felt that she mostly rang true (if a bit hysterical on some pages, but what do you expect from someone who’s suddenly catapulted from a boring job to stardom?). Some argue that she swears too much and is hardly a role model, but she never pretended to be one. She’s not a character of some fairy tale, she’s a real person. But otherwise if you’re in for good food and finery, you might end up disappointed. She doesn’t even pretend to know how to cook. I didn’t care so much about her private life, family and friends, but as most people I guess, I was moved by her launching a crazy project just as she was stuck in a dead-end job. It’s great to have someone tell you that no matter what you do as a day job, you might do something completely out of the ordinary outside of your job, that will turn your whole life upside down. She’s candid and enthusiastic, and she obviously loves food for its sensuality, not in a reverent, intellectual way (the pages on cooking and eating marrow are the best, in my sense – how many Americans would dare to cook bone marrow, I wonder?).
The strange, tongue-in-cheek joke, to me, is that Julie and Julia both got famous for worshipping traditional French food. A fame that didn’t cross the Atlantic back until last year’s movie (which I didn’t see). I love good food, I enjoy cooking (in moderation), but falling head over heels for a foreign, elaborate cooking style that doesn’t suit your life or your tastes is a bit perplexing to me.
By the way, in a vague recollection of Julie’s pages on bone marrow, I cooked a veal brain last week. Wicked French food!