Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal
Title: Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal
Author: Julie Metz
Julie Metz’s life changes forever on one ordinary January afternoon when her husband, Henry, collapses on the kitchen floor and dies in her arms. Suddenly, this mother of a six-year-old is the young widow in a bucolic small town. And this is only the beginning. Seven months after Henry’s death, just when Julie thinks she is emerging from the worst of it, comes the rest of it: She discovers that what had appeared to be the reality of her marriage was but a half-truth. Henry had hidden another life from her.
“He loved you so much.” That’s what everyone keeps telling her. It’s true that he loved Julie and their six-year-old daughter ebulliently and devotedly, but as she starts to pick up the pieces and rebuild her life without Henry in it, she learns that Henry had been unfaithful throughout their twelve years of marriage. The most damaging affair was ongoing—a tumultuous relationship that ended only with Henry’s death. For Julie, the only thing to do was to get at the real truth—to strip away the veneer of “perfection” that was her life and confront each of the women beneath the veneer.
Perfection is the story of Julie Metz’s journey through chaos and transformation as she creates a different life for herself and her young daughter. It is the story of coming to terms with painful truths, of rebuilding both a life and an identity after betrayal and widowhood. It is a story of rebirth and happiness—if not perfection.
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.