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3.8 out of 5 stars
Outtakes from a Marriage: A Novel
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I can't explain why I loved this book, but I did. It may be the funny and witty main character, Julia Ferraro. Here is a woman who, while raising two children, has given all she has to help her husband climb to the top and in the process discovers that she has let go of her own dreams. Yet she isn't resentful of this. I believe that during the book Julia actually realizes that life was more fun before the money and fame. There is a small lesson in appreciating the small stuff. It's not how much you have that makes life more exciting, it's what you make of what you have.

I would not have thought I could relate to a celeb mother but in some small ways I believe most mothers would be able to relate to her. This is probably in part due to Leary's writing style which is simple and not overly focused on the celebrity aspect. Leary writes about many different situations that we as mothers find ourselves in. She is able to weave humor throughout the book. I was actually laughing out loud in parts. This is not a very thought-provoking read but it is fun and light-hearted. Although this novel didn't end the way I wanted it to, I would definitely recommend this book.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Ann Leary's book could have been a typical Hollywood fictional expose but it is an intelligent, often humorous, story of fame, fortune and shattered expectations. Julia Ferraro is the down-to-earth wife of a Joe Ferraro, a new idol, nominated for a Golden Globe. It appears, however, that the successful Joe forget his roots and his supportive wife and started to believe his own press.
Julia discovers a possible affair by listening to Joe's messages. She quickly figures out his password and becomes semi-obsessed with tracking the messages and identifying the southern sultry voice of his probable lover. From that point on, Leary proves to me that Julia is smarter than Joe and no matter how many ways she tries to spin the story, she recognizes the lies and the destruction of her dreams.
The book spanned different issues: motherhood, private schools, cosmetic surgery, and Julia's ambivalence for her own goals. I thoroughly enjoyed the Multi school mothers who cruelly verbalized their judgments on Julia and other mothers and children who did not meet their standards. I also found humor and degradation in the cosmetic surgeon's office. It is very funny and yet I felt every needle and was rather appalled with the surgeon's "selling" of her craft. It seemed scarily realistic!
Leary's female characters were more defined and served a purpose to weave the story together. The reader would always like Catalina, the loyal housekeeper but question her best friends and I certainly became impatient with Ruby, Julia and Joe's daughter. This was a good page turner and Ann Leary created a plausible story rather than a mundane Hollywood tell-all.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I bought Outtakes from a Marriage (hardcover version) a couple of months ago after a couple of friends had recommended it. I thought it would be a great way to kick back, relax, and read a good novel while on vacation. Unfortunately the vacation never came because of a family medical emergency. While sitting in a hospital waiting room as my mom underwent a serious surgical procedure, and while my sister was nearby flipping out, I pulled Outtakes from a Marriage out of my tote and began reading. Well I couldn't stop reading. Ms. Leary's writing style, wit, humor, and vivid descriptions, took me far away from what was going on around me. I became very engrossed in the story line and couldn't get over how quickly the time had passed. A couple of times my sister brought me back to reality to ask me what the heck was so funny...my book...that's what! I would recommend this book in a heartbeat. I love to read and didn't really know what to expect when I bought this book, but I'm very glad that I did. The following week my sister borrowed my book and she was pleasantly surprised at how much she also enjoyed Outtakes. I look forward to reading future books by Ms. Leary!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Joe and Julia Ferraro have weathered the lean times when Julia's pay as a writer for the Village Voice kept them afloat. They had a close group of friends that converged on the Ferraro place for get togethers. Then Joe found work as Mitch Hollister on a TV cop show. The ties with old friends weaken and Joe is busy with the show and his image.

When Joe finally is nominated for a Golden Globe, Julia discovers the wife of a nominee is pretty much nobody. Relegated to the sidelines Julia is stunned to hear a suggestive message on her husband's cell phone. Sure, she has been busy raising their child and trying to keep abreast of all of Joe's publicity and Gawker.com ....The call sparks a frantic round of Botox, hair extensions, return visits to her therapist, lip injections, anonymous web postings and self loathing. By the time the Ferreros arrive on the red carpet at the Globes, Julia has reached her limit.

There is a danger when a star or family member of a famous person writes a novel. Immediately, readers dissect the story, hoping to find crumbs of truth they imagine pertain to the author's life. Out-Takes From a Marriage is just such a book. Ann Leary spins a tale of a well-known TV actor whose wife suspects him of adultery. Biting humor and sharp writing keep the story moving, even through the awkward Dr. James storyline.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Julia Ferraro is what I pictured in my mind as a typical high-brow New York housewife. She's rich, married to an extremely successful (and extremely sexy) actor husband, raising two kids and living in a somewhat discontented haze. The rug is pulled out from under her one night when she hears a voicemail that is damning proof that her husband is having an affair. The chain of events that follow has her doing things she never fathomed were in her repertoire-from getting botox, to standing up to an overly analytical preschool teacher. Love, hate, self-respect, insecurities and often down-right twisted personal relations combine to make this a truly enjoyable book.

I found this book to be funny; really, really funny. It is a barbed-wire humor, sharp and acerbic. Sometimes you laugh and then wonder if laughing at the situation was inappropriate. It also has very poignant moments that make this book very real and gripping. You instantly connect with the characters and want to see them come out on top. It also has you questioning what you would do in such a situation. More than once I mentally chided Julia for her actions and then realized that I would have probably reacted the same way.

It's a quick and easy read, which is amplified by the fact that you will suddenly develop an inability to put the book down the moment you read the first sentence. Highly entertaining, a catalyst for soul searching, and all around enjoyable, Outtake from a Marriage is a must read for, well, everyone.

Armchair Interviews says: Funny and well written.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
From start to finish, Ann Leary has given the reader a rich and transparent description of the character of Julia Ferraro and her life as the wife of famed actor Joe Ferraro and mother of their two children. Although a legitimate member of the celebrity circuit, Julia's growing irreverance for the superficiality of it all, gives the humble, "regular guy" reader a bridge to share this lifestyle with the author. Regardless of any actual or imagined similarities to what the reader thinks is Denis and Ann's real life, the author has written a believable story that will resonate with parents, wannabes, and insiders alike. Reading this book reminded me of the movie "Living Out Loud" with Holly Hunter demonstrating the very active (and frightfully intense) minds of women as they weave in and out of relationships, learning about themselves along the way.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is beautifully written, very funny, and touching. I really enjoyed the book, cover to cover, and couldn't put it down. It's at times hilarious (sometimes scathingly), and also heartbreaking. The vulnerable and heartfelt scenes about the children are tender and introspective.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
With the same accessible aplomb of her memoir, "An Innocent, A Broad," Ann Leary makes the transition to fiction smoother than the Botox-injected foreheads of the celebrity community she artfully describes in this her first novel, "Outtakes from a Marriage."

Deftly dancing the tightrope between real-life and red carpet, Ms. Leary creates Julia Ferraro as a beautifully believable woman -- possessed of "everywoman" idiosyncracies and reactions. Big star or blue collar, when a partner is cheating -- or suspected of such -- the feelings of betrayal are universal. Ms. Leary's well-developed main course storyline is accompanied by generous sidedishes of humor, a literate handling of pop culture references, and lyrically written prose that collectively make "Outtakes" a must-have in your carry-on, on your nightstand, in your beach bag, on your recommend-with-confidence-to-friends list.

With her first foray into fiction, Ann Leary now joins my former shortlist of Anne Lamott and David Sedaris...authors for whom I simply cannot wait for the paperback release. Thank you for a memorable and marvelous first-read of summer, Ann; and please tell me you're already working on your next effort!
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
The fact that the author is the wife of actor/comedian Denis Leary is significant because it authenticates her viewpoint, an insider's look at the cult of celebrity, a family living in school-pedigree-obsessed Manhattan, while nannies call for children of stay-at-home mothers too busy with committees and projects to be restricted to tending the home fires. From the careful nurturing of children's education to the carelessness of a happy, if somewhat predictable marriage, Julia Ferraro has nothing more to worry about than finding a dress to wear to the Golden Globes awards in Hollywood when Joe is nominated for best actor. But everything is jarred into tighter perspective when Julia accidentally dials Joe's messages instead of her own, only to hear the sultry southern tones of a woman who makes suggestive remarks and vows she misses him.

Suddenly, her world tilted on its axis, Julia juggles everyday realities- the pre-school "sanctimommies" and Botox-infected youth cult of Hollywood's elite- her days filled with doubts, both of self and the man she supported through obscurity to stardom. Repeatedly accessing Joe's phone messages, Julia also haunts celebrity blogs, searching for hints as to the young woman's identity. Providing a peek inside the world of celebrity, where fans intrude upon private moments with impunity, Leary's treatment is both humorous and poignant, one woman's attempt to recapture her independent spirit, redefine a potentially troubled marriage and give her children the advantages available through their father's financial success.

In the process, Leary has great fun puncturing the myth of cult celebrity, the plastic surgery addictions of stars forever competing in a youth-oriented market and the foolish pre-school politics that signal a rise in fortune in Manhattan. For those unfamiliar with these bizarre rituals, and likely never to experience such problems, it is easy to dismiss such pretensions. But at the heart of the story is a familiar refrain: a wife unsure of her place after years of dedication to marriage and motherhood and her need to come to terms with life choices. Luan Gaines/ 2008.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Julia is settled into her life as the long-time wife of Joe Ferraro, who has struggled for years to become that rarity --- a famous television series star. She cherishes the life they've made, along with their two children, 14-year-old Ruby and four-year-old Sammy, in a nice Manhattan apartment complete with a housekeeper/nanny.

Her complacency is rattled on the night she accidentally listens to Joe's voice mail and hears an X-rated message left in a young woman's Southern-accented voice. She's so shocked that all she can think is, "This girl is young...Just listen to the mouth on her." Although that first eavesdropping episode was completely unintentional, she is now obsessed, calling to listen to that message repeatedly.

Julia is furious and bewildered, but she can't quite bring herself to confront her husband, who is preoccupied with a Golden Globes nomination for his role in the TV series "The Squad." In fact, she struggles to explain away the message. It can't be what it seems because Joe is his usual affectionate husbandly self. While Julia deals with her dramatic teen and her lovable son, she is also distracted because she must surreptitiously check Joe's voice mail constantly. She is relieved when the message is no longer there --- until she realizes that the fact that Joe erased it means nothing. He would delete the message, even if it was from a stalker.

Other annoyances in Julia's life pale in the shadow of the disturbing voice mail mystery. Yet she must deal with the arrogant teachers and backstabbing mothers at Sammy's supposedly ultra-inclusive Multicultural Montessori School. (Julia suspects its ideal student would be an orphan from Rwanda adopted by biracial, multilingual lesbians.) She also must acknowledge her own expanding backside, bad mom hair and sad wardrobe.

With the Golden Globes on the horizon and a possible straying husband, Julia feels the need to glamorize. Her stylist persuades her to get hair extensions. At the dermatologist's office, she indulges in thousands of dollars of procedures, including dermabrasion, a facial peel, Botox and synthetic filler for her lips. In addition, she buys a slinky black lace gown for the ceremony. But these "improvements" turn hilariously wrong.

While Julia tries to make sense of her world and her place in it, though, she is falling apart, even as she works on the inner Julia. She returns to therapy, talks with her friends and does some hard thinking about herself. She realizes that, although she has had goals as a writer, she has used every excuse not to even attempt to meet them. In recent years, she has left much of her child-raising to her children's beloved nanny. In fact, in her everyday life she doesn't do much of anything (once, when Ruby was small, she told her teacher she wanted to grow up to be "a nothing" like her mother).

I have to admit that I was leery (no pun on the author's name intended) when I realized that OUTTAKES FROM A MARRIAGE stars a celebrity's wife, set in the prestigious Upper West Side. Sure, I had adored Ann Leary's first book, an endearing memoir titled AN INNOCENT, A BROAD, but I've encountered a few too many superficial celebrity novels peopled with one-dimensional characters. However, a few pages in, this book hooked me. Celebrity culture or not, I related to Julia Ferraro, a fully-realized person with a hilarious black humor, an original voice and a desperate situation. The plot is realistic, well-paced and urgent, as Julia scrambles to save her marriage and herself. Her actions are sometimes outrageous (and occasionally made me chortle), but they are not unbelievable.

Leary is a first-class storyteller, and I'm already eagerly anticipating her next work.

--- Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon
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