Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cleaving by Julie Powell


From the author's website: Julie Powell thought cooking her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking was the craziest thing she’d ever do--until she embarked on the voyage recounted in her new memoir, CLEAVING.

Her marriage challenged by an insane, irresistible love affair, Julie decides to leave town and immerse herself in a new obsession: butchery. She finds her way to Fleischer’s, a butcher shop where she buries herself in the details of food. She learns how to break down a side of beef and French a rack of ribs--tough, physical work that only sometimes distracts her from thoughts of afternoon trysts.

The camaraderie at Fleischer’s leads Julie to search out fellow butchers around the world--from South America to Europe to Africa. At the end of her odyssey, she has learned a new art and perhaps even mastered her unruly heart.


Welllllll...this is a tough one to talk about. There is a huge ICK factor. I fell in love with the sweet Amy Adams version of Julie but this Julie is much darker. The "insane, irresistible love affair" is really hard to get past, it just feel very wrong to me. There was such a contrast between the healthy marriage of the couple who owned the butcher shop and Julie's love triangle - you wondered how she could not see it. A similar triangle in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo didn't bother me nearly as much because it was fiction. The result, I just don't like Julie anymore. I wonder if others feel the same and if there is any fall out for her from the book. This is a memoir; it all really happened and these are real people having their lives splayed out for all of us to see. She talks at one point about her relationship with her parents and for the rest of the story I kept thinking, "Your dad is reading this!!!" It's really more than any father needs to know about his daughter!

The other half of the ICK factor was the butchering. I've read other reviews that objected to the graphic descriptions of dismembering the animals - I really wasn't bothered by most of it. My only moments of real disgust came when she visited Tanzania - way too much raw meat and fresh blood consumed there for my taste and, then again, when she made head cheese - yuck. I almost had to fast forward through a few of these bits - sitting in the parking lot at work with one hand over my mouth and the other hovering near the controls - but I made it through. That about sums up the whole book. I made it through not because I loved it but because I was curious enough to want to be brave enough to finish.

Click on the Weekend Cooking button to see who else is linked up over at Beth Fish Reads.

Psst, I have a giveaway posted. It's Chicken Soup for the Soul; Living the Catholic Faith. It's a perfect book for Lenten reflection and the giveaway is open until tomorrow!

This book counts toward the 2010 Audiobook Challenge hosted by the bloggers over at Royal Reviews. Click on the button to see my progress.

11 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I know what you mean - it's hard for me to believe that Julie's husband stayed with her after all that.

BooksPlease.org said...

Yuck - this is one book I won't be reading!

Gina said...

thanks for the review..I can skip it. I didn't really care for her after reading her first book; this one certainly isn't going to endear her to me. I'm not a fan of glorifying adultery. I'm one of those weirdos who still is madly in love with her husband.

JoAnn said...

I think I'll skip this one, but I do have the Julie & Julia movie here from Netflix!

Beth F said...

I still haven't read Julie and Julia (saw the movie tho!). The more I read about Cleaving, the less appealing it sounds. I don't think I'd have a problem with the butchering scenes, but the nitty gritty of someone's love life I can probably do without.

hokgardner said...

I didn't much like Julie and Julia, and I hadn't planned on reading this one. Your review confirmed that impulse.

Esme said...

I must say I did not like Julie from her first book-why talk about your alcohol consumption and sex life sprinkled with vulgarity-if that did not turn me off the first book-adultery no thanks. You should read Julie Child's My Life in France.

Here is my contribution:

http://chocolateandcroissants.blogspot.com/2010_02_01_archive.html#3332949962694309765

Dana said...

I've been considering reading Julie & Julia after finishing My Life in France, but after reading reviews of that and this one, it sounds like it might not be worth my time. I'm definitely not brave enough for this one!

Heather said...

I'm glad I read your review. I don't think I will read the book on the basis of too much meat. It might make me give up on meat all together (think thats what happened to my brother). I have a copy of Julie and Julia on my ipod waiting to listen. Am looking forward to that one.

Gerbera Daisy Mom said...

I have heard NOTHING good about this book. I couldn't finish her first one, so this one wasn't even a consideration.

Rachel said...

I'm glad to have read your review. I feel SO bad for her poor husband, and I'm horrified that she described her feelings for the Other Man in such lurid detail. Badly done, Julie. Also, who needs to write two memoirs before the age of forty? She should try fiction, which I heard she was going to do. Great blog!