Apr 24, 2010
Book Review: Perfection: A Memoir by Julie Metz
Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal
by Julie Metz (Hardcover - June 9, 2009)
I was attracted by the title and the cover of this library book and borrowed it after briefly scanning the inside cover and the author's information. A graphic artist and writer, Julie Metz has written her first book, a memoir about discovering her husband's illicit affairs only after his death.
Her friends and family try to hide the facts from her but she eventually finds out about Henry's infidelity - from email on his computer, and from correspondence, not to one but to many women. And there were other hints which she had ignored during their marriage.
Julie plunges into her husband's past, ferreting out letters or other correspondence that lead her to the other women in Henry's life. She can't move on without finding out as much as she can and confronting the facts head on.
Julie has the reader's sympathy and yet she seems to become overly obsessed with the past, even contacting the women she suspects were Henry's lovers. She explains his behavior as a quest for perfection - in his work as a chef, in his wanting to be a writer, and in his affairs.
The explanation isn't sufficient, however. We'd like to know more about the charismatic and effervescent Henry. That's impossible, however, as Julie wrote the memoir after his death and there is no one to explain Henry. If this were fiction, the novel would include his telling us more about himself. The book seems to need it badly, but it's impossible. Julie finally moves on with her life, telling her journey in this memoir.
More about Henry's distant past, his childhood, where he grew up and his life before his marriage to Julie might have helped us to get a better grasp of his "quest for perfection." As it is, the memoir left me feeling as if there was something missing.
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