June 13, 2005
Powell became an Internet celebrity with her 2004 blog chronicling her yearlong odyssey of cooking every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking
. A frustrated secretary in New York City, Powell embarked on "the Julie/Julia project" to find a sense of direction, and both the cooking and the writing quickly became all-consuming. Some passages in the book are taken verbatim from the blog, but Powell expands on her experience and gives generous background about her personal life: her doting husband, wacky friends, evil co-workers. She also includes some comments from her "bleaders" (blog readers), who formed an enthusiastic support base. Powell never met Julia Child (who died last year), but the venerable chef's spirit is present throughout, and Powell imaginatively reconstructs episodes from Child's life in the 1940s. Her writing is feisty and unrestrained, especially as she details killing lobsters, tackling marrowbones and cooking late into the night. Occasionally the diarist instinct overwhelms the generally tight structure and Powell goes on unrelated tangents, but her voice is endearing enough that readers will quickly forgive such lapses. Both home cooks and devotees of Bridget Jones–style dishing will be caught up in Powell's funny, sharp-tongued but generous writing. Agent, Sarah Chalfant.