The idea is to write about a book that I tried my best to read wholeheartedly but gave up on for one reason or another. I had this little blurb saved up & now it has a purpose.
Julie & Julia- Julie Powell
I went to see the movie with a girlfriend and we both loved it. It was as light & fluffy as a French pastry and the rich closeup shots of the dishes made were so droolworthy, they (almost) made the popcorn & Reese's Pieces we ate positively shameful. The key word is almost...we also went out for Starbucks mochas after :oD
So, being smitten with the good-hearted film, I was interested in trying the novel and grabbed a copy, merely skimming the then 50/50 (good/bad) reviews (now they are more 20/80). Sorry to say that I was disappointed. I got to 100 pages & got sick and tired of Julie. She was so full of it & seemed cranky all the time--not completely unlike Amy Adams's character, but at least there she gave us a sweet, honest-to-goodness rendition of the rather pathetic whiner that the book makes her out to be. I mean, for Pete's sake, she is responsible for her own joy & equal misery that comes from taking on the challenging task of cooking the entire iconic bible for housewives without servants: Mastering the Art of French Cooking. What's even worse is that the Julia half of the novel seems underwritten and just when it gets interesting, it's back to poor, sad Julie.
The writing style is rather pedestrian--I can tell that Powell has made an awkward transition into novel-writing--and comes across as dull when it doesn't delve into an uninteresting backstory or the trials & tribulations of her marriage to a slob who doesn't seem even mildly supportive, let alone interested, in Julie's project.
I thought the Meryl Streep-Amy Adams movie was very sweet and enjoyable, especially Julia's journey into culinary school and her saucy chemistry with Paul (Stanley Tucci), which alone would have made a great movie, so I was rather disappointed that the book did not come across the same way. Goes to show that there are rare times where the movie is better than the book it is adapted from. I’m going to try reading My Life in France by Julia Child some time down the road as I think her story is much more readable than Julie's.
On a final note, I realize now that Julie Powell's book has two separate titles: the hardcover edition is called Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen and the paperback edition (shown above, which I read) is subtitled My Year of Cooking Dangerously. I don't think there is any difference in the pages between the covers, but luckily adapted screenwriters Nora & Delia Ephron, the sister writing team that separately brought you Meg Ryan romantic comedies (Nora--When Harry Met Sally..., Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail; Delia- Hanging Up--and I admit to loving them all), applied their Midas touch to this otherwise sloppy drivel that makes for a more enjoyable, rare experience of the movie version besting the novel.
Rank: (D)- Did Not Finish, Don't Recommend
P.S. I won't make every Friday post a "Friday Fuhgettaboutit" (that could make this blog look like a book-burning cult!) but every now & then I may just wave my critical wand and let my feelings about the rare occurences when my reading time was sadly wasted pour out.