Friday, August 8, 2008

Review: Outtakes from a Marriage

Summary: Julia and Joe Ferraro are living the good life in Manhattan now that Joe’s finally made it; he’s the star of a hit TV show and has just been nominated for a Golden Globe award. After many lean years, they’ve got a grand Upper West Side apartment and an Amagansett beach house, and their two kids go to elite private schools. Even better, Julia and Joe are still madly in love.

Or so Julia thinks until the fateful evening when she accidentally hears a voice mail on Joe’s phone— a message left by a sultry-sounding woman who clearly isn’t just a friend. Suddenly Julia is in a tailspin, compulsively checking Joe’s messages, stalking him in cyberspace, and showing up unannounced on his sets, wondering all along if she should confront him. Julia’s search forces her to consider the possibility that in the long process of helping Joe become something, she has become a bit of a “nothing,” as her daughter once described her to her class on career day. A big husband-stalking nothing.

When Julia and Joe first met, she was an edgy East Village girl who wrote music reviews for the Village Voice and threw famed parties in a gritty downtown loft with her friends. Joe was a shy, awkward drama student who followed her around like a lovesick spaniel. After he won her heart, Julia helped Joe evolve into a roguishly handsome charmer who became increasingly obsessed with his looks and his career. Julia, meanwhile, settled into doting motherhood and a new life of comfy clothes and parenting associations.

Now, faced with the looming awards show and the possibility of a destroyed marriage, Julia embarks on an accelerated self-improvement routine of Botox, hair extensions, and erotically charged shrink sessions while dodging the sancti-mommies who lie in wait for her at her son’s preschool each day.

A unique take on the perennially popular issue of women trying not to lose themselves in matrimony and motherhood, Outtakes from a Marriage is expertly and humorously set against the Manhattan preschool mafia, the Hollywood machine, and the ticking clock of a waiting red carpet. -- Shaye Areheart Books

A few years ago, a good friend of mine was raving about a book by Ann Leary, wife of actor-comedian Denis Leary, called AN INNOCENT, A BROAD. The book was a memoir about how Ann's trip to England during the second trimester of her pregancy turned into a five month stay -- she went into labor and gave birth to a very premature baby. I agreed with my friend that it was a very touching story about a woman learning her way in a foreign country (and its healthcare system) while also learning what it means to be a mother.

So when I heard that Ms. Leary had a novel out, I definitely wanted to read it. Her latest book is a called OUTTAKES FROM A MARRIAGE; and I really enjoyed it. It didn't move me quite like her earlier book did, but it was a very different type of book. I thought it was extremely entertaining and a great light read. One thing that it did have in common with her first book was Ms. Leary's wonderful sense of humor!

While I don't have much in common with the main character of Julia in this novel -- I'm not married to a celebrity nor do I live in New York and get to wear Vera Wang for free; however, I absolutely loved her and even related to her a bit. The book was written first person from Julia's perspective so the reader is allowed directly into her mind. For me, this was such a pleasure because Julia's thoughts are just spot on (and so funny at times.) Some of the funniest parts of the book were Julia's interactions with the teachers and mothers at her son's school. I absolutely loved the part where her son was interviewed for admission into the preschool. He's four and obsessed with potty humor -- now I can really relate to that!

The story was really about Julia and her 15 year marriage to Joe. Throughout the novel, Julia keeps receiving clues (receiving because she is listening to his voicemail messages) that Joe is having an affair. I thought Ms. Leary did a great job in making the character of Julia appear realistic. So many of her responses and actions, while hilarious, were very similar to what any woman would feel if she thought her marriage was over. In addition, she was living in the spotlight with a celebrity husband and the excesses of the show biz industry. As a result, Julia became a very insecure woman and even began questioning her parenting -- much like any "normal" wife and mother would feel.

What I really did like about OUTTAKES FROM A MARRIAGE were Ms. Leary's incredibly astute thoughts on marriage and motherhood. So much of what she said throughout this novel were exactly right; and she was even able to "say" these things while both touching the reader and making the reader laugh. It is a highly entertaining book that many wives and mothers are sure to enjoy.

Also reviewed at:
Breaking the Spine
Book Escape


Jill said...

I enjoyed this as well. The aunthenticity she brought to the book, in terms of she knows whereof she speaks, really sold me on this one.

My review here:

Janicu said...

This one sounds good. You're making me want to read it! It goes on my "I want to read this" list.

Anonymous said...

I read this one, too. I really enjoyed it. I thought it looked at some important woman's issues in a new, funny way. I reviewed it here: