Julie Metz and her flamboyant, charismatic husband, Henry, live a near-perfect life in an idyllic community just outside of New York City. Henry, a writer and a great cook, likes everything just so, labouring over passages and often spending hundreds on a rare truffle or a bottle of wine. In fact, he’s researching a book on umami, the Japanese idea of perfection. And then, quite suddenly, he dies.
Julie bravely attempts to make a new life for herself and her daughter. Six months later, though, she learns Henry has had a string of affairs—one with a woman she considers a close friend—and her entire world caves in. Everything she shared with Henry must be re-examined through the lens of betrayal.
Devastated and confused, Julie forces herself to act. She interviews friends. She speaks to psychiatrists and researchers about infidelity. She contacts each of the ‘other’ women and encounters an array of responses—from remorseful to messed-up to free-spirited. Her friend Cathy, however, chilling in her narcissism, offers no excuse, no regret.
Sorting through the papers left behind, Julie pieces together the last months of Henry’s life and finds a man lost, self-entitled, and willing to risk what’s valuable for fleeting arousal. These are hard truths, which Julie faces straight on, giving us, in the process, an honest, wrenching look at heartbreak and forgiveness. She emerges strong, vibrant, wise; a woman with eyes opened, capable of finding perfection’ in “bursts of love” that overtake her in the commonplace moments of everyday life.
For anyone who’s experienced betrayal, Perfection is cathartic. This trenchant look at loss is ultimately healing: Julie Metz’s journey and renewal not only inspires but offers hope.
Perfection, Julie Metz, Scribe.
Review first published in The Courier-Mail in July 2009.
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