Julie, Julia, and Ilene

The movie Julie and Julia is as delightful as everyone says. Even the men in the audience seemed to like it. The viewing prompted me to go back to the books from whence the movie came. Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France (delivered posthumously by her grandnephew, Alex Prud’Homme) both charms you and makes you want to rush out and eat fresh baguettes and tenderly roasted chickens. It may even tempt you toward snails. I had a different reaction to Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, which I listened to the author read on audiobook (though I must admit I quit after a couple of chapters). I didn’t like Julie Powell. She was a whiner. Her book sounded like a blog that had been made into a book, which it was. So kudos to Nora Ephron, the movie’s writer and director, for molding the Julie story into an appealing half of a movie. But if you’re going to read one of those halves, make it My Life in France.



About the Author:

Ilene Cooper spends most of her day looking at, assigning, and reviewing (some) of the 7,000 children's books that are published each year in her role as contributing editor at Booklist. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Ilene.

7 Comments on "Julie, Julia, and Ilene"

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  1. newrambler@gmail.com' laura says:

    I haven’t read My Life in France, but I loved Julie and Julia. I shall have to check out the former and see if I like it, too.

  2. ellenmarch@comcast.net' Ellen says:

    I thoroughly agree with Ilene’s assessment of both books and the movie. I did manage to finish reading Powell’s book, although I admit to skipping large chunks of it. I am in the middle of My Life in France right now and it is DELIGHTFUL!! I find myself laughing out loud at it quite often. It’s one of those books that I don’t want to end. I was pleasantly surprised at the way Amy Adams made Julie’s character in the movie so much less annoying than she came across in her blog/book.

  3. n.fish@lacrosse.lib.wi.us' Noreen Fish says:

    “Whiner” was my first reaction to Julie & Julia (the book) as well. I expected to enjoy it because I did rather enjoy her blog. The movie was amazing. Meryl Streep seemed to just inhabit Julia!

  4. melchycat@aol.com' Kate says:

    I absolutely adored the movie and have actually seen it twice. And it of course made me want to read the books it was based on.

    I’m almost done with Julie and Julia and while I’ve mostly enjoyed it, will not read it again. Julie is a whiny brat most of the time and doesn’t seem to take anything seriously. Reading her in Amy Adams’ voice does help, but I see now why Julia Child may not have liked her blog. I definitely prefer the movie Julie over the book one. I just bought My Life in France and can’t wait to start it. It looks wonderful.

  5. pgspilles@yahoo.com' Paige says:

    I disagree with Ilene’s review of Julie and Julia. I loved Powell’s witty comments and pop culture references. I didn’t think she was whiny, just real and her use of blog-speak is virutually a new genre in literature.

  6. madguy@onemain.com' Guy says:

    Yes! Read My Life in France, for so many reasons: for Julia’s irrepressible joie de vivre, for her love of France’s culture and its people, for her insights into food and its preparation, for a first hand view of post war France and the American diplomatic corps of the time (including the plague of McCarthyism), for the painful getting published process, and for so much more. No whining from the good humored, laugh at myself Julia, just perserverance. Allez-y. Lisez.

  7. I just dug out my notes about Julie & Julia by Julie Powell because I remembered enjoying it, but the comments about whining made me wonder. I read it back in January 2006 and noted at the time that it was very funny, a “snappy memoir”. Julie was nearing 30 when she wrote her blog. People often tend to come across as a little self-absorbed and whiny at that age…especially to older people who wish they had the luxury of worrying about turning 30 again.

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