Ann Leary’s “Outtakes from a Marriage”

Outtakes-cvr-thumb[1]If you want a light read with an exploration of serious problems, check out another book by Ann Leary, titled Outtakes from a Marriage. It’s about the pitfall of marriage—infidelity, which breeds vulnerability, bitterness, self-loathing, revenge, remorse, and so on. Leary describes a celebrity couple with this problem, but of course, we ordinary folks in mainstream culture are not immune to the same crisis.

Julia and Joe Ferraro tied the knot fifteen years ago, when she was an employed journalist and he was a wannabe actor. Through the years, Julia has been supporting Joe financially and morally on his way to the “top,” and now, when he has finally reached the status of a big movie star (nominated for a Golden Globe, no less), she has become a “nothing”—in her teenaged daughter’s opinion, anyway. But really, Julia seems to have turned into just that—a nothing. She doesn’t work anywhere, she doesn’t write anything, and she has relegated the tasks of cooking, cleaning, shopping for groceries, and even taking her younger kid to school, to a babysitter/housekeeper. In short, she leads the leisurely life of a celebrity’s spouse.

When Julia hears a message on Joe’s voicemail, left by a “horny” young woman, she is shaken to the core. She becomes obsessed with searching for details of Joe’s affair, so she spends every spare minute listening to his voicemail and stalking her own husband on the net. Only now, when the crisis hits, does Julia start questioning everything. Her life, before and during marriage, springs to her mind in sudden flashes—at various moments. It suddenly hits her that as a forty-year-old woman with facial lines and sagging tits she can’t possibly compete with someone in her twenties. Or can she? Will hair extensions, Botox, and lip injections help? Probably. She goes for it all. The question is: Can her “improved” looks improve (or save) her marriage?

Ann Leary spins this tale with humor and know-how. Just like in her novel The Good House where she describes the experiences of an alcoholic drawn from her personal struggle with alcoholism, in Outtakes from a Marriage, she also depicts the life of a celebrity’s spouse drawn from personal knowledge. After all, she has been married for decades to actor and comedian Denis Leary, and she knows the celebrity culture inside out.

Yes, the novel explores serious subjects, such as marriage, raising children, family values, love and loyalty, and it keeps you in suspense, but it also makes you laugh—a lot! The family’s experience with dog sledding in Canada is so hilarious, I couldn’t stop laughing.

My favorite lines: “I walked across the springy gym floor, and the relative quiet of the space seemed to belie the tremendous amount of human effort and energy that was being put forth. In another time and place, this amount of collective human sweat would be accompanied by the crack of a whip and the groan of oars or the resounding clang of metal upon stone. Here, the only sounds were the quiet humming of the machines and the rhythmic breathing of Hollywood’s glistening movers and shakers.” 230

See, how wonderfully Ann Leary writes?! 🙂 Go check her books out, folks!

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