Julieanne Gillis is no snob, but she is pretty darn good at the business of living — so good that she makes a living advising the lovelorn, through her newspaper column, on what they might have done.
But Julie’s castle, with all its towers and spires, is made of paper, and it goes up in flames when her husband of twenty years, Leo, deserts her, twenty-first century style, leaving a desperate housewife truly deserving of the name, a woman who, though she is beautiful and gifted, has to face the sudden realization that the odd physical symptoms she’s been having are not little hints of being a fortysomething, but the opening bars of a terrifying opus, that will crescendo in Julie’s discovery that she has a serious, chronic illness.
Suddenly, her gifted but quirky son, her lovely but self-centered daughter, her confused preschooler and her best friend are Julie’s caretakers — a situation that wounds her pride and sears her heart.
Her older children take it upon themselves to use a ruse to cross country by bus to find their father, but what they discover is much worse that what they could have expected.
Julie’s fate seems sealed, but everyone underestimates the moxie and grit of this indomitable woman. Refusing to see herself as a tragic mope, Julie not only writes her way to a kind of glory, but finds unexpected joy and new love — while her husband, in fitting fashion, gets precisely what he set out to find, in spades.
The instruction manual on dumping a wife has been done, by John Updike and Olivia Goldsmith, among others. Julie’s story would be a cliché if it weren’t for the new face of duplicity and courage — which may be the face you see over your backyard fence, in the next car at your corner, or even in the mirror.