Perfection is Julie Metz's reflection on what happens next, after her comfortable life is turned upside down when her husband Henry drops dead of a heart attack on their kitchen floor. As the days, weeks, and months after Henry's death unfold, Julie struggles to keep it together, for herself and her daughter, while finding her way through this new life.
Cassandra Campbell's narration of Julie's story is soothing and calm, giving the words an almost seductive feel. There are many characters in this book, and Campbell does a great job differentiating them with a slight accent or just a hardening of her voice. Her characterization of Julie's young daughter Liza is particularly compelling, really making her stand out from all the adults in the book. Campbell's performance is never overdone, and all the people from a variety of countries that Julie encounters are brought to life effortlessly.
Julie's first tentative steps down the path to recovery are shrouded in grief and self-doubt. An affair with Tomas, a close friend, distracts her momentarily from her loss, but her world comes crashing down once again when she learns of the late Henry's repeated infidelities, particularly with Kathy, one of her close friends.
Fueled by anger and hurt, Julie begins to unravel Henry's past, getting a picture of his relationship with Kathy and its curious similarities to her own marriage. Digging further, she discovers the kind of man Henry truly was both to her and his other women. In her quest to uncover Henry's true personality, Julie embarks on a journey of self-discovery, turning inward, wondering who she is now without her husband. Slowly, while she begins to rebuild her life with a new love, Julie rediscovers her sense of self and finally begins to heal.
While Julie Metz's story of lost love and infidelity is compelling and tragic with obvious emotion, her effort in sharing her experience is almost too much. The writing tends to wander all over the place with no detail, large or small, left out. Coupled with the large number of people involved in Julie's journey, the events can be difficult to follow as they unfold, but Campbell's narration makes the best of the material, providing an engaging listen. Lesley Grossman
Julie Metz's life changes forever on one ordinary January afternoon when her husband, Henry, collapses on the kitchen floor and dies in her arms. Suddenly, this mother of a six-year-old is the young widow in a bucolic small town. And this is only the beginning. Seven months after Henry's death, just when Julie thinks she is emerging from the worst of it, comes the rest of it: She discovers that what had appeared to be the reality of her marriage was but a half-truth. Henry had hidden another life from her.
"He loved you so much." That's what everyone keeps telling her. It's true that he loved Julie and their six-year-old daughter ebulliently and devotedly, but as she starts to pick up the pieces and rebuild her life without Henry in it, she learns that Henry had been unfaithful throughout their 12 years of marriage. The most damaging affair was ongoing - a tumultuous relationship that ended only with Henry's death. For Julie, the only thing to do was to get at the real truth - to strip away the veneer of "perfection" that was her life and confront each of the women beneath the veneer.
Perfection is the story of Julie Metz's journey through chaos and transformation as she creates a different life for herself and her young daughter. It is the story of coming to terms with painful truths, of rebuilding both a life and an identity after betrayal and widowhood. It is a story of rebirth and happiness - if not perfection.
©2009 Julie Metz; (P)2009 Hyperion
The best thing about this memoir is how the author had the nerve to call and interview her husband's mistresses. Which of us doesn't sit up nights peeking at Facebook, wondering about the other woman? Well, listen to this memoir and you can be there with the narrator as she calls and asks questions of her dead husband's many other women. You get to be a fly on the wall and one of the mistresses turns out to be really nice to the wronged wife. This would be good for anyone who's ever wondered, "What did she have that I didn't?" It doesn't answer that question for sure, but the reader begins to realize her husband probably was locked in a cheating spiral that wasn't making him happy, looking for something he couldn't find because he was unhappy with himself. Or something like that--in other words, the other women didn't have something the wife didn't have. The husband wasn't having this happy-go-lucky party while doing all his cheating--he was unhappy and looking for something that could probably never be satisfied.
The book is tedious. Initially her coping with the betrayal of her husband moves things forward. Then we just get stuck in an endless loop. Eventually, you just don't care.
Though at times I found this book and the author frustrating, I couldn't stop listening to it. I always like to hear Cassandra Campbell's voice so that was a big enhancement. But, the subject was also compelling. A couple is married for 16 years, the husband dies very suddenly at 44, and the wife subsequently finds out he was unfaithful...many times over. Some of Julie's behaviors and her "living in denial" are hard to swallow and the book is too long, but Julie's story is engaging.
I found the author's writing about herself and her life to be unaware and self-indulgent. It offered no insight and therefore was not interesting to read. Her stance sounded more like a victim who was getting out her self-pity in a book -- something better left to a private diary that others don't ever read.
The reader was good but it can't make up for poor content. Save yourself time and money. Don't waste your time on this book.
By contrast, the best autobiography I have ever read about someone losing their spouse is called Grace and Grit by Treya and Ken Wilber - an intense read and amazing book!
This book was like a bad Dr. Phil episode that wouldn't quit. The narrator's voice was flat which added to the dreariness of the narrative. I had to listen to the end to see if Julie Metz had some kind of redeeming epiphany but it was not to be. Having been married successfully to my best friend for almost four decades, I wasn't surprised that her marriage to this self-absorbed man was a failure. There was nothing there to anchor it together in a meaningful way! When you start popping anti-depressants and hide behind motherhood, you're doomed. Julie, I'm sorry you shared this. It may have been cathartic for you but a downer for some of your readers.
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