Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession by Julie Powell (audio)

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this novel. I have heard nothing but praise for Julie and Julia, but have not yet read that novel. Cleaving is Powell’s second novel after Julie and Julia. It seems that fame and fortune does not always bring happiness. After becoming famous with the publication of her first novel, an old lover from college (that she cheated on her boyfriend at the time and now husband Eric with), D, has reappeared and brought passion and heartbreak with him. Although Julie loves Eric and he is considered the perfect husband, she cheats on him repeatedly with D. When Eric finds out, he gets a girlfriend of his own and overall their marriage is in deep trouble.

After they both give up their boyfriend/girlfriend, Eric and Julie have a strained relationship. Strained as Julie lives in an apartment during the week learning butchery for this novel. She also still fantasizes about D. The sad truth is, Julie did not break up with D because of her love for Eric, rather D broke up with her because she had rough sex with unknown men and told him about it. Even D has limits.

Mostly as I listened to this book, I just wanted to slap Julie and say, “Snap out of it!” Only I know she would have liked it after her way “too much information” monologues about how she liked it rough from D. It’s not that enjoyable to listen to someone bemoan the loss of a lover that they didn’t really love, but had great sex with, and how sad it is to be left with your wonderful, caring, soul mate husband.

The butchery part of the novel had interesting parts, but also suffered from too much information. Listening to Julie describing the details of pigs getting butchered was rather disgusting. It almost made me want to turn vegetarian. I did appreciate that she had a love for liver and had a slightly different recipe for it then I do. I may have to try it out! I also loved her quirky analysis of life versus Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I have never watched Buffy, but have friends who are obsessed so it was interesting listening to it.

Julie Powell reads the novel herself and does a fair job. It sounds like you are listening to her innermost thoughts . . . which sometimes I did not want to hear or really care about. She had an interesting interview at the end of the audiobook that provided some insight on the novel overall.

The last section of the novel finds Julie traveling around the world to learn more about butchery, but also it seems like she just wants to not be around her husband. The book ends, but there is not a clear resolution on what the future will hold for Julie and Eric.

Overall, the novel was slightly interesting, but not that great. The only thing that kept me listening was that Powell is overall a good writer, even if the story is not that interesting. It reminded me a lot of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, a novel I also did not enjoy. If you were a fan of Eat, Pray, Love, this novel may be for you.

I will be giving away three copies of this audiobook in a separate post so you can have a chance to judge for yourself!

Audiobook Source: Review Copy from Hachette Book Group. Thanks Anna!


  1. I've heard mixed reviews of this book. To be honest, it's probably not going to land on my TBR list. Thanks for your honest review.

  2. I cannot imagine behaving like this--and then writing about it!

  3. Oh thank you for this review. I was listening to this in my car and couldnt finish it. I havent reviewed it yet as I have been going back and forth on what to say. I didnt like the personal stuff and finally just had to shut it off. It was good to see here I wasnt the only one that felt this way.

  4. Enjoyed Julie & Julia (though the movie is better), enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love, think I'll pass on Cleaving. While Eat, Pray, Love was revealing, her search for love and peace was genuine and not commercial. From what I've read, the same is not true for Cleaving.

  5. Hi! I have an award for you here: http://christysbooks.blogspot.com/2010/01/our-lovely-blog-award.html :)

  6. Looks like we're all sharing the love! I have something for you, too, Laura!