I love this book. I loved it when I read it shortly after it came out. And I love it today, when I have just finished rereading it for book group.
I know all the reasons for not loving it--Julie Powell is an obnoxious, self-absorbed crybaby who uses too much foul language and doesn't really write all that well. I don't care.
I love The Project--cooking her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year and blogging about it. Crazy and brilliant.
I love her descriptions of the food and her often-klutzy efforts to produce that food. I love her devotion to Julia; the brief sections in which she writes about Julia and Paul are sweet and respectful. She maintains her devotion even when she learns that Julia isn't devoted to The Project and even as she mocks the lengths Julia's recipes demand she go (boil the rice, taste it grain by grain, rinse it, wrap it in cheesecloth, and steam it--come on!). I love her whacked-out sense of humor ("laughter through nausea is my favorite emotion").
I don't think the book has anything particularly important to say about life (though she reaches for that at the end) and I probably would have wanted to smack Julie Powell if I'd actually been around for one of her meltdowns--but the book entertained me no end.
There is clarity in the act of peeling a potato, a winnowing down to one sure, true way. And even if afterward you do push it through some gadget you got at Crate and Barrel, the peeling is still a part of what you do, the first thing.
If you haven't seen the movie, do. Nora Ephron did a fabulous job expanding the sections on Julia and Paul and intercutting them with Julie and Eric's pursuit of The Project. It's sweet and funny and thoroughly enjoyable.