August 10, 2009

The 'Take a Chance' Book Challenge - My Movie/Book Comparison Submission

I signed up for Jenners' 'Take a Chance' Book Challenge about a week or so ago (late to that dance, it started in June).

I completed challenge # 10: Movie/Book Comparison.

Julie &Julia - The Book.

This true story tells of Julie Powell, an unhappy cubicle worker in New York City who is approaching her 30th birthday, as she attempts to find herself by cooking 524 recipes from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking - and she plans on completing this gargantuan task in one year. Her husband Eric suggests that she blog about her experience. He is a very supportive husband - even during numerous hissy fits she has when recipes (and her life) go awry.

Julie blogs about her adventures in the kitchen, about her marriage, and about Julia Child. She even goes so far as to dress like Julia Child for her 30th birthday. She creates all of these culinary masterpieces in her tiny Queens apartment, where she has poor plumbing, and a colony of maggots under her dish drainer (yikes). And she throws F bombs like a Teamster.

She is stunned when her blog gets comments. Soon, faithful readers are sending her jars and bottles of condiments through the mail. They fret if she doesn't post; they share in her triumphs, and console her as she spills, burns and mangles the dishes while she is gaining confidence both as a cook, and as a woman.

She begins to get attention from the press - interviewers are treated to meals that she cooks (if they show up at all). She continues at her frustrating job (she works for an agency that handles claims for 9/11 families), buys ingredients on her way home from work, and often does not finish din
ner until 11 pm each evening.

She finds herself on this journey of b
utter and cream sauces, of de-boned ducks and dismembered lobsters.

My Life in France - The Book.

I loved this book. I might even say I fell in love Julia and Paul Child. She embraced her life with passion and humor. At six foot two, she was larger than life. Paul was the quintessential supportive husband. He encouraged her to find her passion. From her first meal of Sole
Meunière, she discovered the joys of France and of French cooking.

She learns French, shops like a pro in French markets, and takes classes at Le Cordon Bleu.

She outshines her male counterparts in class, and in time, even rivals the chefs who taught her. While in Paris, she meets two French women, Simka and Louisette, who have been working on a French cookbook for American women. Julia partners with them (and becomes the leader) in her exhaustive re-writing of their original recipes. Her flair with organization and curiosity and love of good food causes her to create a masterpiece of culinary work.

This book also chronicles the love story of Julia and Paul Child. They are kindred spirits - loving France, food, and each other. All during their life together, Paul chronicles their life in letters to his twin brother, Charlie.

Julie & Julia - The Movie.

I enjoyed the movie. Meryl Streep was cast as Julia Child; Amy Adams as Julie Powell. I remember watching Julia Child on public television - Meryl Streep has her voice and mannerisms down pat. Amy Adams is sweet and more even-tempered than the book Julie. The movie Julie does not curse like a Teamster.

The movie focused far more on Julia Child and her years in France than it did on Julie Powell and her cooking adventures. And that suited me just fine.

Nora Ephron, the screenwriter, had access to Paul Child's letters to his brother. She showed scenes where Julia and Paul would "nap" (wink wink) after a satisfying lunch. It was nice to see a middle-aged couple with a love life. These details were left out of the book.

After 10 long years, her book is published to great acclaim. After Paul's retirement, the couple settles in MA, where Julia starts her TV career on public television. She wants American women to have the passion for French cooking that she discovered - and encourages them to be confident, even in their mistakes.

Interspersed are the trials of Julie Powell as she struggles with her marriage, her cooking, and the frustrations of her job.

I want to see the movie again, and have plans to see it with my two stepdaughters who couldn't make it on Friday night.

And it may inspire me to try some of Julia Child's recipes - right after The Mister and I take a nap (wink wink).


  1. I have not read the book or seen the movie. Which order would you recommend?

  2. Evansmom,

    I would ALWAYS suggest to read the book first. A two hour (or less) movie has to leave out a lot of details that add richness to the story. And if I had to only pick one of the two books to read?

    That's a hard one. They both have merit...but I think the Julia Child book will stir memories for me much longer than Julie Powell's book will.

  3. Great write up!!! Now I'm raring to go on this....just hope I can finish the book before the movie leaves the theaters!!

    Did you find yourself feeling jealous of Julie Powell getting a book deal and movie made of her life and she came from the blogosphere? I always feel a twinge when I read about bloggers who did stuff "back in the day" and make it big. I wish I had a gimmick like that. Oh well.

    And I guess I didn't know Nora Ephron was the director! Cool.

  4. Jenners,
    Writing a review is harder than writing a blog post...I never spend much time on my posts - this one took quite a do you do it?

    I don't think I had any jealousy toward Julie Powell...she had an 'angle', and approached it at just the right time.

    If they ever have a book deal for a middle-aged June Cleaver-type (in a Roseanne sort of way) with a wacky boy, I'm set!


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