At the time I'm writing this, I haven't yet watched the movie Julie & Julia. It's downstairs waiting for me. I never did pick up the book as the cooking thing didn't really appeal to me. However, having supported myself by working in butcher shops during my younger years, I was interested in listening to Cleaving.
Julie's first novel Julie & Julia is a huge success, as is the movie version. She decides that her next challenge will be butchery. But Powell's personal life is not as rosy. She is torn between her husband...and her lover. She is, quite frankly obsessed, with D. - the lover. The two stories are told, with the meat often providing a metaphor for her personal life.
I found the actual descriptions of butchering techniques and the shop itself interesting, as it is something I have done before and I could picture what she was describing. Some listeners may find these descriptions a bit overdone though. (meat pun intended) I found the inhabitants of Fleisher's Meats interesting and it looks like the book has been a boon for them as well. Powell eventually finishes her apprenticeship. Still not feeling settled she decides to go on a personal, international meat odyssey, travelling to Africa, Europe and Japan. I enjoyed listening to these trip descriptions as well, but found Powell's behaviour in Africa disturbing.
Now the other story...I really found the relationship Powell and her husband share difficult to fathom. Eric is fully aware she is cheating and eventually begins a tryst of his own. Yet Powell insists that Eric is her soul mate, while obsessing over the mysterious D. who by her own description treats her badly. Powell is brutally honest is describing her penchant for rough sex, over consumption of alcohol and self destructive behaviours. Although by the end of the memoir she professes to have begun a healing and acceptance process, I didn't buy it. To me she comes across as selfish, thoughtless and needy. But sad,unhappy and desperate as well.
Cleaving is read by the author herself. I must admit that by the end, I found her voice grating and annoying. But take note - I did listen to all of it - I really did want to see how it ended. Listen to an excerpt. Follow along with Julie's life on her blog.
Okay, so I am off to watch the movie. I don't know how true it will be to the book, but will tack on my thoughts to this review.....
(Postscript: Enjoyed the movie, Meryl Streep was great as Julia Child and I really found her life fascinating. Amy Adams did a great job as well. But I just couldn't shake the opinion I had formed listening to Cleaving and never really 'felt' for Julie.)