In anticipation of the Julie and Julia movie, I decided to write a joint review of Julie and Julia the book and My Life in France. One I like. One I didn’t. You can probably guess which one is which.
Here’s what’s so weird – I related more to a dead lady who lived a big chunk of her life abroad than a fellow food blogger who is around my age. So with Julie and Julia, I just felt like she was moving from one topic to the other without enough context. It felt like a series of anecdotes but without the context of how life changing and nourishing cooking actually is. Yes you hate your job as an office drone triaging the needs of 9/11 widows but I’m not getting a sense that cooking Julia’s recipes was anything other than something you did. Obviously it changed your life but from what I read, BLOGGING about it changed your life more than the cooking. There were very few points in the book where cooking was pleasurable and nourishing for the soul. On top of that, things kept on happening to her but I never got a sense of who she was other than some generic 20something trying to figure herself out.
This is in contrast to My Life in France where I felt like Julia and Paul would totally be friends with J and I. What’s funny is that My Life in France is one of the least food porny books about food there is. There’s more descriptions of Julia’s frustration with her conservative father than mouth watering descriptions of meals. Like Julie, food and learning to cook was a life changing event. What was so satisfying for me about My Life in France was seeing who she was before and after she discovered cooking. She was an extremely intelligent and socially progressive person who found a stand up guy who shared her values. I love that she was sharing her and Paul’s frustration wit the crappy politics of the U.S. diplomatic corps and her challenges with co-author Simone Beck. What encapsulates the book for me isn’t even a written word. It’s two pages of Valentine’s Day cards she and Paul would send to friends. They capture the couple that have been so well described in the book. Pictures of the two of the as an 19th Century couple (with Paul in a toupee), in the bathtub, and sitting on a bench with red hearts pinned to their matching white shirts. These are two engaged, funny, smart people.
Unlike Julie, I wanted to be part of Julia’s orbit.