Book review: Julia & Julia

Julia & Julia by Julie Powell

Subtitled “My year of Cooking Dangerously” Julie Powell’s “Julie & Julia” suggests conflict the ilk of Khrushchev & Kennedy; Tweedledum & Tweedledee; Blackadder & Baldrick. There are times when the book lives up to these classic pairings but so too are there times when they resemble Caesar & Cleopatra; Barnum & Bailey; Jack & Jill.

The book is a jocular journey through a woman’s perceived change-of-life event – her encroaching thirtieth birthday. Powell is not satisfied with what she has achieved in her life to date. College trained, she had hoped to become a writer but abandoned her unfinished first novel, resorting to secretarial temp work. She feels unfulfilled, stuck in a rut, and believes that if she does not do something meaningful before she turns thirty, she will be a failure. Continue reading

Book review: Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.

Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2009

Mantel’s Wolf Hall takes place at the cusp of the Reformation in London c. 1520. It is cleverly narrated from the viewpoint of Thomas Cromwell (consecutively and/or concurrently Court advisor, Privy Seal, the Garter, Vicar General, earldom of Essex and Lord Chamberlain.) The author artfully reinvents this historically maligned character into a formidable and ambitious advocate with a droll wit and very touching human side (‘With animals, women and timid litigants, his manner is gentle and easy; but he makes your creditors weep.’) She relates his abused childhood and how his early mercenary activity in continental Europe brings him to his opening chapter anima as advisor to Cardinal Wolsey. He is present at Wolsey’s decline and afterwards ingratiates himself to his monarch Henry Tudor to ensure his political and vocational survival. Continue reading