65 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2009
Whew, what is there to say about this memoir? It drained my emotions several times, and I mean that in a good way. Ms. Metz poured her heart out here, and it was hardly for naught.
Julie Metz is in her office when she hears a heavy thud. Continuing her work, she doesn't think much of it. Then all of a sudden, her mind rewinds and she itemizes all of the things it wasn't. She runs into the kitchen and finds her husband Henry on the floor. She calls 911 and breathes into him, but he cannot be saved. Over the course of the next few days, her house becomes a parking lot for friends and family to aid her and her 7 year old daughter Liza. She hears a woman in Henry's office shriek shrilly but doesn't think much of it, as immersed in her grief as she is. Yet it comes back to her later. Going through the motions of returning to her schedule for her daughter's sake, Julie can't eat, she isn't sleeping well and she's being visited by Henry's spirit.
Six months later, a friend of both Julie and Henry tells her that Henry was unfaithful. This revelation understandably cuts to the core, but it's just the tip of the iceberg. There wasn't one liaison, there were several. As there were several women. When Julie finds out just how close to home his betrayals came, her bite is sharp. As she digs through the evidence of infidelities of the man she thought she knew and gave herself wholly to, there is much fury, pain, and most surprisingly, a curiosity that seeks to understand and almost forgive him these slaps in the face from him. It's almost like she stepped out of the pain and hurt she felt to try to understand a reason for this need of his and forgive, in such a way that shows how lucky he was to have her and what a mistake he made in seeking solace and comfort elsewhere.
The third section of the book shows Julie trying to pick up and put back together the pieces of her life, delving into dating again. The shock of the new way of dating (ahem: Match.com) is shocking to her as she met Henry in 1986, and was married to him until 2003. The trials and tribulations of her dating explorations are something many of us may have felt if we've ever gone the path of words and email before an official meeting.
The memoir is heavy, no doubt about that. There won't be many laughs reading it, but there's not a bitter tinge to it you might expect from a topic like this. You root for her because she's genuinely likable and honest about herself, her shortcomings and flaws, and her better attributes. Ms. Metz was not throwing herself a pity party in writing her tale. I can only imagine and hope this was a cathartic therapy session for Ms. Metz
59 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2009
Reading "Perfection; A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal" made me realize how many of us walk through our suburban streets totally unaware of what goes on behind the manicured hedges of our neighbors. Metz's memoir is a transparent peek inside one perfect neighbor's window. But a real neighbor. A real woman. A real family. Her book is an easy to read, hard to put down story of the experience of love, betrayal, and the ultimate re-examination of everything she thought she wanted. I couldnt put the book down as I followed her through her discovery process, not only of her husband's hidden past but also of her own desires.
As a psychotherapist specializing in relationships, I think this book is a realistic and well written account of what happens when infidelity cracks open everything one thinks is real. Buy the book today!
44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2009
Anyone who has ever had their heart broken over a spouse's extramarital affair must read this book. You think you had it bad? Julie Metz couldn't even confront her husband about his affairs, because she didn't find out about them until six months after he passed away in front of her eyes. She eschews the normal internal struggle to find a sense of closure and instead makes the process external, by tracking down each of the women he had been carrying on with in order to confront them. The resulting story is a heart-wrenching but beautifully told journey into a second phase of life that everyone should be lucky enough to find.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Julie Metz knew her marriage wasn't perfect, but she had no idea her husband Henry was unfaithful. Then after Henry's sudden death from an embolism, her friends rally around. When they discover the evidence of his betrayal they keep the information from her. A few months later, Julie finds out and her world falls apart as she struggles to deal with her rage and her pain. Henry is no longer there, so she boldly confronts the women he cheated with. I couldn't help but admire her courage and her strength as she asks each of the women questions and tries to find out why. Eventually she forgives all the women except one, a woman who pretended to be her good friend. In the months following the discovery of Henry's treachery, Julie also has a number of relationships with men. I wondered if she were really seeking a new partner or if she was working out her anger at Henry. Julie then decides to move back to Brooklyn and leave the house where Henry died. She is finally able to move on after the return to the city to move in with a new partner.
My only complaints with the book were that I felt that Julie shared too many intimate details of her sexual encounters, especially since I felt she was just using some of the men she slept with. Also, the last third of the book was slower paced and less interesting than the first part. Overall, though, a good read with a sympathetic narrator.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2009
Julie Metz gives us the complete, honest, heart-wrenching account of what is it like to not only lose your husband, but to lose the life you thought you had with him.
Any woman who has ever been betrayed can completely relate to the feelings of disbelief, anger, depression and (hopefully) renewal that PERFECTION relates to the reader.
I can say that her account is as vivid as it gets and covers virtually every situation and emotion that one goes through....from loss to finding one's way again. I know, because I, like Julie, found myself a single mother of a young girl. I did not lose a husband to death, but to divorce. Finding out deeply hidden secrets after the fact, just as Julie did, had me searching for answers and asking the same basic question that she does...WHY?
While she had no ex-husband to go to for answers, she had evidence (e-mails, writings) that she poured over in an attempt at closure. She had the ability and the guts to confront the actual women involved. Her story is compelling...after all you want her to have a happy ending after all she has been through.
However, the reason I did not give the book 5 stars was that there was a little TOO much sharing.
I am sure that getting everything off of her mind was cathartic, but sharing the very thorough romantic/sexual escapades of her life before she met her husband, her sex life with her husband and her sex life after her husband perhaps was more than a stranger (the reader) needs to know. The very personal correspondence of her deceased husband was also included and though he was a louse, it felt like a real violation of privacy for someone who has passed on.
Personal feelings aside, I give her credit for being so open not only about her husband's flaws but her own. I don't really want to criticize her for her personal choices, however the book puts them out there and it will leave her open to more criticism that she may deserve. The more that I read, the more that her story felt like an angry attempt at revenge, rather than a thoughtful reflection.
I really wanted to feel nothing but sympathy for this woman who has been on such a difficult journey. I respect her anger but was disappointed at the way some of her story was presented. The book would have been just as compelling if it were a bit more discreet.
If you have been in this situation or know someone who has, you may find Julie Metz' story oddly comforting and informative. I believe you will find it relateable. I do wish it was a little less personal and a little more inspiring to those like her, who could use (and deserve) a happy ending.
86 of 106 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2009
I bought Julie Metz's "Perfection" expecting to be appalled on her behalf. Instead, I found myself appalled by her. I cannot believe that Ms. Metz would dedicate a book detailing every failing of her late husband and their complete sexual histories to their daughter.
Additonally, the second half of the book does not present a coherent, compelling story. While every interaction that Ms. Metz has with a male may have great significance for her, it does not for the reader.
74 of 92 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2009
"You are a vengeful person." Julie Metz receives these words from the husband of her dead husband's mistress when she decides to openly discuss the affair. Indeed, "Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal" is at its best when Metz is seeking vengeance for the lie that was her marriage thanks to her husband's constant infidelities. She doesn't discover the affairs until six months after his death when it all unfolds and she begins to breakdown under the weight of it all.
The book is at its worst when Metz tries to convince the reader that she is better than being known simply as the widow of a cheat. She does this with such a bombastic tone that it was often off putting. We are to understand that she is an artist and she is from New York, not this boring suburb! She visits a former lover in Paris and peppers the text with french, failing to give the terms any context for those readers without a background in the language. She claims to have been duped by her husband, even though she reveals he wooed her while in a relationship with a friend.
It is these personal defenses that keeps "Perfection" from being perfect. When the memoir is full of raw emotion, it feels honest and makes for a very compelling read. If only Metz had understood what makes her story interesting isn't her social resume, but the way she discovers and then copes with the infidelities.
43 of 53 people found the following review helpful
I couldn't put this book down while reading the first two sections, "Fog" and "Storm." "Fog" details the unexpected death of Metz's husband, Henry and her attempts to cope as a young widow with a six year old daughter. "Storm" uncovers her husband's adulterous past in vivid detail. Metz does a great job of developing tension and uncertainty. Who among her circle of friends was Henry's long-term mistress? The pages turn quickly as she discovers that her her husband was involved in a series of affairs spanning the course of their 16 year relationship and marriage. The reader is drawn in as a voyeur, uncomfortably so at times, peering into the private lives of strangers. In these days of reality television a la Jon & Kate and tabloid news, this airing of dirty laundry has become de rigeur. Under the guise of a novel, the story wouldn't have been so juicily compelling.
Charming, flirtatious and on a long leash while jet setting around the country to research his book, Henry concealed a hidden life while Metz was oblivious to her husband's instability and infidelity. Yes, it is disturbing to live with someone only only to find that you don't know them at all! Was the perceived love,trust and intimacy just an illusion? These thoughts will resonate with the reader long after the book is done. Needless to say, Ms. Metz is left disillusioned and angry.
But beginning with section three "Wind," I began to lose patience. Metz becomes obsessed with her husband's deceit. Unable to get over his shortcomings as a narcissistic, controlling cheater, she spends the next few years of her life on a quest to understand the man who betrayed her. Rather than moving on, she is consumed by the aftermath, making the last third of the book tiresome. She wallows in self pity and self indulgence. Meanwhile her friend Ann, herself going through a messy divorce, picks up the pieces with little reciprocation.
Metz is not he first woman whose husband cheated on her, and his death actually made things rather tidy. Freed from custody and support disagreements, she is secure financially, able to travel to Europe, and spends a month each summer in Maine. With the aid of yoga, therapy, and massage, Metz has advantages unavailable to most widows, divorces and wives of philandering husbands.
The remainder of the book loses its appeal as Metz struggles with the dating scene and her decision to move back to Brooklyn. One low point is an attempted explanation (or not) for her husband's behavior based on genetic hard-wiring of males predisposing them to multiple sexual partners. The other low is Metz's decision to tell her 11-year-old daughter about her father's affairs. (I predict that this is to be continued on Oprah and Dr. Phil.) The book gets more and more philosophical with smatterings of the paranormal as Ms. Metz tries to persuade us that she's moved on while I, the reader, wished that I'd moved on pages ago.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2009
Just as reading about someone with an eating disorder can remind you that it's even a more typical dieter can go too far, Julie's marriage, while on the extreme end of the spectrum, struck a nerve. While my husband didn't cheat or bully in the same way as hers, I connected with the feeling of being gaslighted, living with anxiety, the low-grade fear, feeling as if my emotions needed to be medicated and being subsumed under a stronger force at times. I've never seen these subjects written about in a way in which I saw myself, and it was powerful.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
"Living with Henry meant embracing the necessity of a $150-an-ounce white truffle. When I reentered the kitchen, he smiled and offered me a taste of his potion. The sauce was velvety and impenetrable, the tastes of dinners past mingled with the present drippings and port, a bay leaf sailing on the surface of the dark liquid. I gazed around at the mess in the kitchen--my mopping and tidying had done nothing to calm the hurricane." -- From Perfection
After sixteen years of marriage, it would be hard enough to have your robust, social husband suddenly fall dead on the kitchen floor one fateful morning.
But what if, after the wake of this devastating loss, you discovered that your husband left explicit emails and professions of love to a narrow-minded, uptight Christian who happened to be a friend? A friend that not only babysat your only daughter, but frequented your husband's all-out dinner parties?, And, apparently, had been sleeping with your husband for several YEARS...right under your nose?
Insult to injury, right? If that's not bad enough, imagine that your passionate, charismatic and volatile husband was not only cheating on you with "her"...but with women scattered all over the U.S.?
Using the metaphor of "umami", an experience roughly translated as "perfection", especially in terms of savoring food (and the object of her late husband's culinary research for his contracted book) author Julie Metz chronicles her flailing rage and drive to understand in her mesmerizing memoir Perfection.
Amidst the many acts of betrayal by her dead husband, Henry, Julie Metz valiantly muddles through parenting their young daughter, continuing her graphic design business (she designed the gorgeous cover for this book, in fact), navigating the complexities of friendship (including a dear friend who caught her husband cheating with his student), addressing her sexual attraction to a younger man, and more.
In less skillfull hands, these types of dicey circumstances could read maudlin, self-pitying, hateful or cynical.
But Metz is such a darn good writer that her descriptions of food, knotty social interactions, confronting her husband's lovers, maneuvering through complex emotions, deception, pushing to function, and searching for meaning--that of her marriage, of Henry's choices, and her new life without him (and with the knowledge of his infidelities)--read like a novel.
I'm not one for memoirs, but I could NOT put Perfection down. Although Metz may wonder if "perfection" really exists, I have to say that if I had to name a "perfect memoir", Metz's heartfelt offering would definitely be it.
-- Janet Boyer, author of Back in Time Tarot