Note: It might be obvious to some, but below are major spoilers for Julie & Julia, a major motion picture from 2009, with some spoilers for Sharp Objects, a recent TV show. Both were also books, published in 2005 and 2006, respectively.
Are you one of the few people who have crushed on Sharp Objects this summer? Were you also slightly disturbed by the character similarities from the smash-hit 2009 movie, Julie & Julia? I know I was. If you’re not, prepared to have your mind blown by this Julie & Julia/Sharp Objects shared universe theory!
I know what you’re going to say: Julie & Julia is non-fiction and Sharp Objects is fiction. How can there be a shared universe? As Jesse Stone has taught me, you shouldn’t be so certain of reality. Just give me some rope and trust me, by the end you’ll be a believer.
We left Julie Powell at the end of 2002, feeling vindicated by her blogging sacrifices, receiving thousands of answering machine messages from failing publishing houses begging her to make them some money. She shrugged off some unkind things that Julia Childs said of her efforts. How could her muse, the one person she looked up to in all the world, say unkind things? That wouldn’t happen. So she made up a new Julia in her head, a Julia that would never do things like that to her. In that moment, we see the sociopathic creation of Camille Preaker, her villainous alter-ego. Or, I should say, the undoing of her innocent fake identity, Julie Powell.
Camille Preaker would reveal herself to us in 2006, four years later, in a small town in Missouri, investigating the deaths of two little girls.
“Wait, wait, wait,” I hear your objections sounding from the courtroom balcony. “Camille wasn’t the villain of Sharp Objects.”
What evidence do we have that Camille is trustworthy? She’s a failed blogger turned St. Louis reporter! Her mother is always saying that we shouldn’t trust her. Even the police chief thinks she’s dangerous! Listen to these small town folks, they’ve known Camille all her life!
Following the events of Julie & Julia, Camille Preaker’s (still going by the alias Julie Powell) relationship with her beau turns south. We’d already seen what an ungrateful douchebag he is in the movie/book, but he becomes jealous of her fame and vindictive due to her bout of writer’s block. From what Google tells me, Preaker wrote about this in Cleaving: a Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession, but I didn’t read it. So I’ve surmised the following:
Years later, they’re both older. He’s moved to Kansas City and is a state police detective going by the name Richard Willis. He sees Camille in town and is surprised but doesn’t want to ruin his growing relationship with the town by tipping off that they used to date back when she was just Julie Powell. But because we can’t trust the narrator, we don’t get any of this backstory.
It’s only because these characters are played by the same actors that this intrepid online sleuth picked up on this shared universe!
Based on the straightforward story Julie/Camille tells us, we should believe that she goes home for the first time in a long while to her mother’s where her stepdad and much younger sister still live, where her sister had previously lived, where two girls were mysteriously killed.
You might point to many instances of the dialogue that shows Julie/Camille and Eric/Richard just met. FALSE!!
I see through your schemes, unreliable narrator (see audience mistake, above).
Because that same evidence would lead you to believe that Amma and Julie/Camille are sisters. But they’re not! No! Did you not see the clues from her memories, boiling over into the narration? All the times that she thinks about that awkward married man who was a football player and their rendezvous in the woods? Why does he always want to talk to her? Is he a pathetic white man that wants to explore life outside the bounds of matrimony? It couldn’t be that simple!
You see, that’s what Eric/Richard discovered so many moons ago. That she wasn’t pure, had birthed a daughter that she called a sister. He rushed back to confront her, but she wasn’t ready yet, thought he was confronting her writer’s block, so she started carving names into her skin, declaring “I don’t have writer’s block now!”
His departure forces her to enter a mental institution where she meets her first victim, the girl she would kill with poison. JUST LIKE A FOOD BLOGGER WOULD!
When you get to the end of Sharp Objects you might think that all the loose ends are wrapped up, but you’d be wrong. Why’d the killer go and take the teeth from those girls? Why the obsession with pigs?
I ask you, how else would a recovering food blogger turned St. Louis reporter deal with their pain? By taking the pain out on girls, forcing them to lose the one thing that would help them chew delicious Julia Childs meals: their teeth.
But then she saw a pathway out of her despair, out of her writer’s block: to write about the murder of these girls as if she was a native to the area. And her simple editor thought it was his idea! HAHAHAHA! How gullible of him!
But as she gets in deep, she needs to close out the story. Who better to pin it on than her mother or maybe her sister/daughter. Now all she had to do was plant those teeth…