Cleaving by Julie Powell

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Don't waste your time or money

I don’t know about you, but when I visit a blogger who reads, I take note of what they are reading. And then mentally or physically adding it to my list of books to be read. Some of you may have noticed that I was listening to Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsessionby Julie Powell. Before you go adding it to your list, I want to make sure you know that I just stopped listening to it. At chapter 6. I don’t know how many chapters the book has, I don’t care. I couldn’t take any more of it.

The premise of this book sounded interesting, Julie Powell wanted to learn how to butcher meat. Since I also lament the passing of the local neighborhood butcher, I was intrigued with how one becomes and/or learns the trade of butchery. What I was not intrigued with was Julie Powell.

Now, let me state for the record, I love steamy and trashy. Steamy and trashy make for a fun read. But what I learned from this book is that there is steamy and trashy and then there is icky and nauseating, unfortunately this book falls into the later category. She has a husband, a lover, plus she is trying something she’s always wanted to try, and she still manages to do nothing but whine and complain.

The final straw was the scene where she describes going over to her lover’s apartment. Oh, and she is enthralled with having a lover… it’s freeing! It’s exhilarating! It’s a wonderful thing! So, she goes to his apartment and he meets her at the door naked. He then proceeds to basically slam her against the wall and do her right there in the foyer. Then he carries her off to his bedroom past the closed bedroom doors of his roommates! Not only is she doing her lover, in his foyer, she is doing it while his roommates are home. Nice. Very classy.

The whole time I’m reading this, I’m thinking…do you have parents? Do you have brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, or heaven forbid, grandparents? People who may read this. People who have to look you in the eye after reading this. Why? Why would you write this? Catharsis? Therapy? If that is the case, then I spent about 3 hours listening to this book so far, so that means you owe me about $300, because therapist don’t come cheap, you know.

I give this one star out of five. Only because she can write. The sections that had to do with butchery were very nicely done. If only she would take her writing skill and use it for good, instead of feeling the need to spew out this garbage.

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  1. says

    Is it a true story? That’s too bad:( I liked Julie and Julia….Thank you for the review..not on my to buy list after it~
    Love your reviews:) I saw a bottle of wine yesterday somewhere..I loved the name and thought I wonder if she’s tried it?:)
    The name escapes me now..must have been about fairies or ladybugs:)

  2. says

    I read a review of this book and it alluded to her S&M side, plus the sexual leanings you alluded to.

    Why do I care about the bedroom antics of this woman?

    I await the tell-all from the cuckolded husband. That’s juicy!

  3. says

    Ironically, when I saw the title and before I started reading, I thought of a sunday school lesson that I had in our newlyweds class some 15 years ago titled “Leave and Cleave”. (“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 KJV).)

    I’m not a religious guy but that lesson stuck with me I guess. Apparently Julie should have been there too;)

  4. says

    Pam- I noticed you were reading/listening to this and I was interested so I clicked the badge on your blog. I didn’t know she wrote another book and I was shocked at the ratings and what the other reviewers were saying. Sounds like she found a way to ruin any reputation she had formed after the movie. What a shame. It’s really too bad she published something like that, but thanks for your review!

  5. says

    I read Julie and Julia and made up my mind right then and there to never read another Julie Powell book. I like steamy and trashy too and I agree that she writes very well, but I think she’s just a self-absorbed, whiny little b*tch. The Julie in the movie was nothing like the Julie in her book. And I also think the woman is just plain filthy, and I mean that in a housekeeping kind of way.

  6. says

    I’m on page 200+ (not sure what Chapter it is, but it’s Part 2, after the butchery apprenticeship ends) — I feel like I’m reading an addict’s confessional.

    It’s making me almost physically sick. I’m not sure I will finish it, either, although I am still holding out hope that she is going to snap out of her selfish, abusive behavior and somehow attempt redemption.

    I am heartbroken that she speaks of her husband (her best friend??, the love of her life?!) with such a vile cruelty. She will never be able to repair the damage she has done. She is obviously in-hate with herself and I cannot help but feel sorry for her, but even more, for all of us, as readers, that are now entwined in her twisted existence. It really is sad that she’s using her talent for trash.

    Perhaps this is what Julia saw in her. She writes well, but intends malice.

  7. says

    You know, that passage would be right at home in a work of fiction, like one of those paperbacks with burly men and shoulder-bearing women on the cover. Julie’s problem is that she’s obviously confused about her audience. If she wanted to write for foodies, she should keep the trashy bits out; if she wants to write about sex there’s a whole different market for steamy exposes.

  8. says

    Good thing you missed chapter 8. That’s where Julie Powell has amazingly bad anonymous sex because she feels so awful about her self.

    When it’s over she texts HER LOVER the details to try to get him to return to her.

    As you said – real classy.

    There’s more: the make-out session with Damien (her lover in the book) at her apartment while Eric is sleeping in the next room.

    She also cheated on Eric when they were in college – with the same guy she cheated with in the book.

    As you wrote: very classy.

    I wouldn’t even give the book one star.

  9. says

    yeap… I am a huge fan of the idea of both Julie and Julia… also the story of the husbands.

    The idea of this book turned me off from the beginning. i agree that the good will she created went way south with this ill conceived and badly written book

  10. says

    Ugh. I hate it when a potential great book is such a total let down. Since having little kids, and time is of the essence, I’ve gotten a lot better at recognizing when a book isn’t going to get any better, and therefore tossing it aside before I get halfway through.

    I just received Ruth Reichl’s “Not Becoming My Mother” for Christmas and I’m really excited to start reading it. I hope it delivers. If not, at least it’s really short and I won’t have invested too much time.

  11. says

    Well, that’s another one marked off my “want” list! I don’t mind a bit of sex but it’s got to be somewhat redeeming, and in pretty small doses. This sounds over the top, and I think – no, I KNOW that I’ll pass …

    Buffalodicks comment had me spitting coffee all over my nice clean keyboard… so he owes me one. 😉

  12. says

    She can write and butcher, you say? How about sell her stuff? She is marketing to the lowest denominator here, a time-trusted marketing ploy. Not for you, not for me, but definitely for those whose idea of fun is escaping life.

  13. says

    I loved reading all the comments to this post. LOL Buffalodick! I have the book Julie and Julia, haven’t read it yet. I am interested in seeing how cute little Amy Adams glorified and “niced up” Ms. Powell. I didn’t know she had another book out. I’m really not interested in her drama.

  14. says

    I received the book for Christmas, started reading that evening, got a fourth of the way through, and put it down. I’ve no hurry to pick it up again. I agree with your review totally.

  15. says

    My local paper had a piece on her yesterday since the butcher shop she apprenticed with is about an hour north of our home. First of all, Julie bears no resemblance whatsoever to Amy Adams. The article mentioned her extra-marital affair, but didn’t go into details (thank heavens). While I adored Meryl Streep and–oh, senior moment, I can’t remember the name of that wonderful actor who played Julia’s husband–I would agree that Julie was whiny and not someone I’d care to know. I will not be learning more about butchering in the near future.

  16. says

    Nice woman.

    By the way, thank you for your condolences on my blog. I am grateful.

    And thank you for recommending ‘Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.’ My sister and I made our first boule today (actually four) and it changed our lives. That is how beautiful they turned out. Basically, I could open a bakery on that recipe alone. That book is a revelation.

  17. says

    Having read some of Julie Powell’s blog, and the nonsense that was her book, and then seeing the movie (because, oh, gosh, Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci were wonderful), I wouldn’t read this book if I were paid to do it. What a self-absorbed, deeply uninteresting woman Julie Powell is.

  18. says

    Okay, I’m listening to U is for Undertow and reading The Forgotten Garden, which the Mountain Musing blogger recommended.

    I think I’ll take a pass on the one you passed on, too! Julia Child didn’t like her, so I’m going to stick with you and Julia.

  19. says

    Well, dang. My husband was a butcher for over twenty years. Maybe I should help him write a book about it, because I’ll guarantee you there’ll be no lover on the side. Just lots of blood and gore.

  20. says

    You know, I got bored while I was reading Julie and Julia for the first time. I put it down. Then they made the movie and I thought, MC, you need to read this. So I picked it up again. Didn’t get to the Boeuf Bourgignone part. Then the movie comes out. Loved it…the Julia part.
    Nuff said!

  21. says

    Wow, thanks for the heads up – I had no idea she wrote another book.
    I haven’t read Julie and Julia as people keep talking about how annoying she is and that they only like the movie for the Julia parts.
    What is she thinking? Who will she have left in her life?
    I think this is also the first time I have read all the comments to a post. Very interesting conversation!

  22. says

    oh i loved all the comments and reviews here, total crack up of a morning! i agree with rachel way to squeamish about animals to even think of reading this, but it sounds like the steamy side is the selling point…

    quick grab another book and get back on the saddle~

  23. says

    I am so glad you posted this! I did enjoy Julie and Julia, so when I saw that she had a new book out, I had to stop myself more than once from buying it. Now I am glad I waited. Thanks for the tip – I think I’ll pass!

  24. says

    Gross and sleazy! I picked this up the other day and thought I might spend a Christmas gift card on it (I really enjoyed Julie/Julia). Thanks for the review….I’ll pass and grab another Tyler Florence cookbook instead.

  25. says

    Hi Pam – that is exactly why I did not like her first book, such a whiner! Too bad it took her crappy book to make a fabulous movie about Julia Child with the genius Meryl Streep. I hope Meryl makes a prequel or sequel (without Julie Powell).

  26. says

    Thanks for the heads up! I read Julie and Julia and thought that woman needed her mouth washed out with soap, repeatedly, and then needed a good spanking, she was so whiney. The movie was well done, and she was still very childish, but not nearly as bad as the book, and of course, Julia was fabulous.
    So this book is to be used in her divorce as evidence for her husband. I’d rather send him a cheque directly than give her more money. (Oh wait, I took her book out of the library so didn’t give her any money in the first place, woot!)

  27. says

    Last night we watched Julie & Julia, having never read the book. I was gravely disappointed in the movie — both in the recounting of the Julie Powell experience and in the overall “moral of the story”. It’s unfortunate that such superficial drivel got so much attention. Your description of Julie Powell’s follow-up is in complete alignment with my instinctive response to the first story/ movie.

  28. says

    While I’m going through your blog looking for the cauliflower/pine nut pasta you mentioned today, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to AGREE with you on this. I doubt that I would have even given her a 1 …you were too generous. There’s a 4 letter word to describe this book …SMUT. There, I feel better. Thanks Pam.

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