Just an FYI, this review is going to somewhat assume you’ve read Julie Powell’s first book, Julie and Julia. Cleaving is rather like a sequel, and really, they should be read in order for Cleaving to make sense.
To say I loved Julie Powell’s book Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously would be an understatement.
To say I didn’t love Julie Powell’s book Cleaving: Marriage, Meat and would ALSO be an understatement.
Here is a little bit of what I say about Julie and Julia back in, oh wow, June of 2007:
“I found Julie’s writing to be refreshingly honest and candid. Her humor is infectious. She holds nothing back as she describes the various recipes she cooks (and how gross some sounded!) and how her crazy scheme affected her life, family and marriage. I’ve heard some say they are wary of books by bloggers. I’m sure you’ve heard, some people think bloggers can’t really write. This book is not just for foodies, or bloggers, but anyone who has struggled to find her (or his) place in life and just want to be given the chance to be happy with their life. Highly recommended.”
Now, I still find Julie’s writing to be “refreshingly honest and candid.” I also think she may be slightly insane. Lemme ‘splain.
In Julie and Julia, one of my favorite parts, besides all the cooking, was Julie’s relationship with her husband Eric, which has almost disintegrated in Cleaving. And it’s all Julie’s fault for embarking on an insane love affair that by all appearances is based solely on their sexual attraction. The way she strings both me on was repulsive to me. So she does what any insane, careless woman would do; she skips town and takes up butchery. So now she can break down a pig into the prettiest pork chops you’ve ever seen and French a rack of ribs like nobodies business – all in an effort to distract herself thoughts of afternoon trysts.
Some interest review bites:
“Julie Powell’s follow-up to Julie & Julia paints a visceral, compulsively readable picture of what it looks like when you fully indulge with a fantasy object who isn’t your spouse…. Powell has honed her writing chops along with her culinary skills, and her extended metaphor is dead on: how we can systematically hack each other apart without ever getting to the heart of our desires.” (Elle Miranda Purves )
“Got a hobby you consider therapy? You’ll eat up this second memoir by the author of Julie and Julia. In it, Powell tries to end an adulterous affair by immersing herself in an apprenticeship at a butcher shop–and embarks on a world tour of meat. How she finds her way home is the marrow of this tell-all travelogue/love story. Well done!” (Self Elisabeth Egan )
“From the title to the last page, former blogger Julie Powell’s startling second memoir, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession, is smart and compelling…. Powell’s steadfast femininity and confident voice are refreshing.” (The San Francisco Chronicle Laura Impellizzeri )
I give you these quotes to show you what the reviewers thought. I suppose it took guts to bare her soul this way, and I do somewhat admire her for that, but at the end of the day I found myself disappointed and with a strong wish that I hadn’t read it. I honestly think part of my view was obscured by my deep love for the movie and Amy Adams’s portrayal of Julie. I had Amy in my mind when I pictured Julie and, even though I don’t know either woman, Amy seems much sweeter than Julie! Recommended to those who like stories of infidelity in marriage, butchery, and insane women taking up both. The way Eric puts up with all of this only added fuel to my fire.
Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession
By Julie Powell
Category: Nonfiction/Foodie Memoir
Published by Little, Brown and Company
On Sale: December 1, 2009
I checked this out of the library – thank goodness.
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