Outtakes from a Marriage
Outtakes from a Marriage
By Ann Leary
Crown, Hardcover, 9780307405876, 272pp.
Publication Date: June 3, 2008
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.
“[A] sparkling debut novel …. Keenly observant of celeb culture … Leary pens a bittersweet tale about love, marriage and the perils of fame.”
“The prose is sprightly … you’ll keep reading.”
"After years as a struggling actor, Joe Ferraro is starring on a hit TV show - and has a Golden Globe nod. But when his stay-at-home mom wife Julia hears a sexy-voice phone-message congratulations from a woman clearly more than a pal, her life is turned upside down. Leary, wife of actor Denis Leary, mines the laughs with her knowing New York-set story. She insists it's all fiction."
—New York Post
"Memoirist Leary (An Innocent, a Broad) follows in her fiction debut the unraveling of Julia Ferraro after she accidentally discovers a racy message in her Golden Globe–nominee husband's voice mail. As the doubts about her husband, Joe, mount, Julia begins examining other areas of her life with closer scrutiny, and her behavior becomes increasingly erratic as her paranoia grows: she dabbles in Restylane and Botox, attempts to seduce her shrink and plants rumors about her husband on Gawker. In addition to Julia's marital angst, she is also managing a shaky relationship with her entitled, adolescent daughter, Ruby, and is wracked with anxiety over her own lack of a career. Julia is a sharp and self-aware narrator, though there are moments when she seems too much a romantic, particularly for someone with otherwise worldly and wry sensibilities. Leary, the wife of actor Denis Leary, has an eye for the comedy of manners of the rich and idle. As Julia's daughter observes, 'You don't really have to do anything.'Julia responds: 'I know. You have no idea how stressful that is.'"
"[T]he ruefully funny story of the stay-at-home wife of a sexy TV star who inadvertently discovers he's having an affair, and sets out to discover with whom before the Golden Globes.”
—Sarasota Herald Tribune
"A hilarious, moving, and addictive novel."
—Dani Shapiro, author of Black and White
"I loved it. I loved Julia—her strength, her vulnerability, and her realism—and I loved Ann Leary's stingingly sharp observations of marriage and motherhood. I can't even say it works as a stunning first novel, because it is far better than that. Ann is truly a writer with enormous talent and heart."
—Jane Green, author of Second Chance and The Other Woman
"Outtakes from a Marriage is a ruefully funny novel about adultery, family, and the good memories that get people through hard times. Ann Leary is a sharp observer of domestic life and celebrity culture."
“Memo to all men: Read this book. You’ll rejoice in its searing honesty and crackling wit. You’re sure to learn something about marriage, about women, and, above all, about yourself as women see you. And women? You might see this book as a mirror where you discover yourself. You’ll know (I think: I’m only a man) how Ann Leary so often hits the nail on the head. I envy all who haven’t read this book. They’re in for a treat.”
—Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes and Teacher Man
"How does a free spirit turned wife and mother cope with her actor husband's infidelity? According to this debut novel from memoirist Leary (An Innocent, a Broad, 2004), with tears, irreverent humor and, ultimately, a reaffirmed sense of self.
"Julia Ferraro's husband Joe has been nominated for a Golden Globe for best actor in a TV series. Weeks before the ceremony, Julia innocently uses Joe's phone to check her messages and punches in his code by mistake. The raunchy, suggestive message she hears sends her near-perfect world into a tailspin. After struggling for years, Joe is now a household name. Julia and he have two young children, Ruby and Sammy, and share a spacious pre-war apartment on the Upper West Side. It's a far cry from the early days of their courtship and marriage, when Julia was the fun-loving breadwinner and Joe was an "awkward, shy, borderline dork" whom Julia "taught to drive a stick shift and to shoot pool and, really, how to dress." Now she is obsessed with discovering the identity of the young woman with "that fresh, foul purr." A girl who once threw wild parties, Julia now balances Joe's celebrity with gentle barbs and copes with such demands as Sammy's status-driven preschool. (The lampooning of Sammy's Multicultural Montessori School is the funniest part of the book.) As the Golden Globes near, Julia plunges into a maelstrom of insecurities about her marriage, her parenting skills and her weight, and she struggles to steer a course between pushover and avenging First Wife. The outcome is satisfying without being sappy.
"A witty take on marital survival in Manhattan—with heart."
—Kirkus, starred review