Marriage isn’t easy. If you didn’t already know this and are thinking of one day being married to someone, you should try reading Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession by Julie Powell. The book was published this year as a follow-up to Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, the memoir (about a blog) that combined with Julia Child’s autobiography, My Life in France, turned into a movie, Julie & Julia. That movie turned out to be the most fun one I’ve seen all year.
Julie and Julia gave us such a rosy picture of marriage. Julie’s husband, Eric, though he didn’t completely understand why his wife would want to cook her way through a Julia Child cookbook in a year, supported her decision. Probably spending a year eating all of that wonderful food helped just a little. In the movie, the actor cast as Eric, Chris Messina, was a wonderful depiction of the Eric I enjoyed in the book version. I also thought Amy Adams was a great choice, though I was well aware of how wholesome she was compared to the Julie in the book version.
I was thrilled that Powell had published another memoir to follow up her first one, and I just finished reading Cleaving this morning. It doesn’t take long before you know first that Julie has been having an affair with someone and then you learn that Eric has been too. Each knows the other is seeing someone outside of the confines of their marriage, but they almost never talk about it, they just keep growing further apart.
Then Julie embarks upon a two-part journey that involves learning to become a butcher, first spending six months as an apprentice two hours outside of New York City, and second, traveling to South America, Africa and Asia to learn more about how butchery is done in other parts of the world. She undergoes a personal transformation during her travels alone, and though it is no Eat, Pray, Love, it is enough for she and Eric to decide after she returns to New York that their marriage is worth saving. It’s a good thing. I have to say I like them together.