Julie Powell thought cooking her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking was the craziest thing she’d ever do—until she embarked on the voyage recounted in her new memoir, CLEAVING.

Her marriage challenged by an insane, irresistible love affair, Julie decides to leave town and immerse herself in a new obsession: butchery. She finds her way to Fleischer’s, a butcher shop where she buries herself in the details of food. She learns how to break down a side of beef and French a rack of ribs—tough, physical work that only sometimes distracts her from thoughts of afternoon trysts.

The camaraderie at Fleischer’s leads Julie to search out fellow butchers around the world—from South America to Europe to Africa. At the end of her odyssey, she has learned a new art and perhaps even mastered her unruly heart.


As I immersed myself in Cleaving, I enjoyed the author’s voice, which took me back to her first book and the movie based on it.

But then, as we followed her in her journey to butchering, and as the details grew, I liked it less. The gory meat journey was not as much fun as her cooking journey!

There were occasional recipes in this book, too, and there were interesting departures into her complicated love life. An ongoing affair, some problems in her marriage, and her occasional monologues about how she might finally “cleave” her relationship issues added just enough to the story to keep me going.

Overall, however, I was disappointed in this second effort by an author I had previously enjoyed. 3.5 stars..#2021ReadNonFic



  1. This sounds rather unique. I don’t usually get grossed out so I don’t think that I would have an issue with the butchering in the story but I am not sure that I would really enjoy it either. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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