With a thirteen-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son, Julia Ferraro has immersed herself in the obligations of New York motherhood, her actor husband, Joe, finally achieving the notoriety they have worked for, the truly lean times behind them. Now that Joe has been nominated for a Golden Globe, Julia should be concerned with nothing more than finding the right dress to wear on the red carpet at the L.A. awards.
Describing herself at forty as someone who hardly bothers with the details of contemporary fashion, Julia is content to be supportive of her husband’s career and the education of her two children, teenaged Ruby and little Sam. When by chance, Julia accesses Joe’s phone messages instead of her own, she gets a rude awakening - a sultry Southern voice on Joe’s phone. Suddenly, Julia’s world shifts on its axis, and she is left juggling what she shouldn’t know with the terrible doubts that have intruded on her complacency.
In the following chapters, Julia drifts back and forth between nostalgic memories of the early days of her marriage, the wild partying of her college years, and what her life has become since, particularly when Ruby exclaims to her teacher on career day: “I want to be nothing, just like Mommy!”
Filled with self-doubt, curiosity and a slow-burning anger, Julia develops habits that do little to improve her fragmented self-esteem, listening to Joe’s messages obsessively, trolling the Internet in search of clues about the woman’s identity and finally accepting friends’ advice. Her face freshly Botoxed, blonde hair extended down her back, Julia is uncomfortable in this new persona, driven to upgrade her image and visit her psychiatrist again. Meanwhile, Joe is oblivious to his wife’s suspicions.
The more she examines her life, the more Julia senses the carelessness that permeates a marriage when both people are involved with their roles, forgetting the small details of the relationship. Once that position is threatened, Julia must walk through the difficult emotions that batter at her consciousness, her part, whether Joe can be trusted, the needs of her children, and what has become of the bright young woman who is now only the wife of a celebrity.
With unerring humor, Leary chops the celebrity subculture down to size, exposing the petty concerns of image and status that so define a camera-ready generation. Leary’s Julia realizes all too well that her husband is only human. It is that very humanity that fills this novel with the small defiance of independence, as Julia comes to terms with who she is, what gives her life meaning, and if she is able to accept the failings of a flawed partner.