Picture Perfect (novel)

Picture Perfect

First edition
Author Jodi Picoult
Country United States
Language English
Genre Family saga novel
Publisher Putnam
Publication date
April 1995
Media type Print
Pages 369 pp
ISBN 0-399-14040-9
OCLC 156344828

Picture Perfect (1995) is a novel by Jodi Picoult about a female anthropologist and the history of abuse she receives from her celebrity husband.


Cassie Barrett is a renowned anthropologist. She wakes up on top of a grave suffering from total amnesia, unable to recall any details about herself or her situation. She is taken in by Will Flying Horse, a half-Lakota Los Angeles police officer, until she is retrieved by her husband, Alex Rivers, a Hollywood celebrity. She returns to her Bel Air mansion and it would appear (and she is led to believe) she lives a picture perfect life. Memories gradually return to her about her whirlwind romance with Alex in Tanzania, her deep and unconditional love for Alex and the physical abuse he inflicted upon her.

When she finds a positive pregnancy test in her bathroom, she recalls why she left—to protect her baby. She returns to Will who hides her on the Lakota reservation in South Dakota. She grows to love the Reservation and its people. Meanwhile, Alex's life is falling apart although he has won three Oscars; he cannot live and is lost without Cassie. Rumours abound concerning Cassie's disappearance that tarnish his reputation.

On the night of the Oscars, Cassie calls Alex to say that she is proud of him. A while after giving birth to Connor, she calls Alex again and tells him where she is but says that she will not come home for another month. She makes him promise he will not come after her, but he breaks this promise, and shows up outside the Flying Horses' house two weeks later. They reunite and Cassie tells Alex of their son, Connor. Cassie tells Alex she only left to protect their baby, and that she would never have left otherwise because of Alex. Cassie makes Alex agree that she will return on two conditions: that he see a therapist and will never beat her. He agrees and when they are back in Los Angeles his reputation is restored, but only temporarily.

Alex stops going to therapy, rumours abound about where Cassie was and the paternity of Connor. Alex becomes aware of the rumours and beats Cassie. Regret comes later that evening when Alex begs Cassie not to again leave. He again promises that he would do anything and says he cannot be without her. Cassie agrees but also realises that she cannot stay with Alex despite her love for him. She realises that something has to make him hate her, so that they can both be free.

Cassie holds a press conference, announcing she is divorcing Alex on grounds of extreme cruelty. She knows this will ruin Alex, and kill her as she is forcing Alex to stop loving her but she cannot stop loving him. She sees him in the crowd of reporters and when a reporter asks if she could say anything to Alex right at this moment, what it would be, she says, "I'd say what he always said to me. I never meant to hurt you."

See also

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