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Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal Hardcover – June 9, 2009

3.3 out of 5 stars 189 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As recounted in this dark and affecting memoir, Metz's discovery of her husband's long trail of philandering well after he died reveals the state of willful ignorance and comfortable self-deception that reigned in her marriage. At their home in the northern suburbs of New York City on June 8, 2003, Henry, her husband of 13 years, suffered sudden cardiac arrest, leaving the author, a 44-year-old graphic artist, widowed and the sole caretaker of their six-year-old daughter, Liza. Initially unable to face the details surrounding his death, she left to her friends the task of cleaning out her dead husband's office, though those same well-meaning people hid from her the truth they gleaned from Henry's computer files and correspondence: he had been enjoying a two-year affair with another woman in their town, as well as numerous other dalliances. Metz, after the shock of Henry's death, found solace in shopping and flirting with a much younger artist, Tomas, who was also friendly with Henry; once Tomas intimated that Henry had another life, the author began digging, calling and e-mailing every woman she learned had had a relationship with her husband, obsessed with finding the truth. Metz's road to emotional honesty proves cautionary and trying. (June)
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Review

"In lyrical, moving prose, we're treated to a powerful story of love, infidelity, grief--and starting over."―Working Mother

"A visual standout. [Metz] brings refreshing candor to a startling, painful tale."―The New York Times, Janet Maslin

"Heart-wrenching but triumphant."―Glamour

"A fascinating memoir by a woman who, after learning of her much-loved late husband's history of affairs, decides to confront her former rivals."―People Magazine

"Readers will be mesmerized. Her honesty about middle-aged sex and fear of never finding the "new" right someone make this a delectable summer read."―USA Today

"You'll be absorbed by the real-life sleuthing in Perfection, a riveting memoir about a widow who discovers that her late husband lived a deceptive double life."―Real Simple

"It is impossible to put PERFECTION down as we follow Julie Metz through her true story of love, lies, loss and moving forward. Her raw and brave writing makes you want to cheer Metz on as she pieces her life back together, one beautiful sentence at a time."―Marian Fontana, author of A WIDOW'S WALK

"Julie Metz's memoir of how her marriage unraveled after her mate's death is piercingly honest, haunting and heartbreaking. Anyone who has ever been in a bad relationship will over-identify."―Susan Shapiro, author of FIVE MEN WHO BROKE MY HEART and LIGHTING UP

"Metz's Perfection chronicles with lapidary precision one woman's climb back to happiness after not just a spouse's death, but also the shocking recognition that her life before that death was not what she had thought it was. The journey is a painful one, but Ms. Metz is much the stronger for having survived to recount it."―Julie Powell, author of JULIE & JULIA

"This aching memoir of love, loss, and deception is candid and compelling. I found myself rooting for Julie Metz in her search for a happy second life."―Hilma Wolitzer, author of THE DOCTOR'S DAUGHTER and HEARTS

"Lyrical, haunting, and utterly gripping."―Redbook

"A dark, evocative memoir from a woman forced to come to terms with her husband's death and the revelation of his infidelity."―Shelf Awareness --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; 1st edition (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401322557
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401322557
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,154,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Lee on May 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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!
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"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.
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