A Beautiful, Terrible Thing by Jen Waite


I’m not sure how long I had this ARC before I started reading it, but it was apparently long enough for me to forget it was a memoir. It happens sometimes, but I usually remember once I start reading. As I read it over the weekend, I was convinced I was reading an engrossing psychological thriller… until I read the acknowledgements at the end. That’s when I realized I was actually reading a memoir. All of this actually happened. The chill that went through me at this realization was far more intense than the ones I’d been having as I read the book.

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing is unique in that it is written in the style of a novel, simultaneously telling the story of the beginning of the relationship with her husband, and its devastating end, in “Before” and “After” segments.  Waite’s seemingly perfect marriage unravels shortly after the birth of her daughter, when she discovers her husband has been unfaithful—something he denies repeatedly, despite evidence to the contrary. In her search for the truth, she realizes her husband fits the definition of a psychopath and is incapable of truly loving anyone. Her marriage was built on a foundation of lies. For her daughter’s sake, Waite must find the strength to begin a new life.

The damage that can be done by someone with a dangerous personality disorder cannot be understated. Gaslighting is a particularly heinous manipulation that leaves the victim confused and disoriented, questioning their ability to remember events correctly. This is a single example of the many ways such a person can mentally torture their victims.

This powerful memoir is heartbreaking, often chilling, and incredibly hard to put down. It feels wrong to say I “enjoyed” reading it, given the pain and suffering the author went through, but I’m glad I read it. I think books such as this one are important because they shine a light on the destructive behaviors of abusers… perhaps the better equipped people are to recognize the signs, the lesser the chance they will be a potential victim? One can only hope.

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Plume via Netgalley.

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Author: Jen Waite
Title: A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal
Genre: Memoir
Publication Date: July 11th, 2017 by Plume
Rating: 5 stars

About the Book

What do you do when you discover that the person you’ve built your life around never existed? When “it could never happen to me” does happen to you?

These are the questions facing Jen Waite when she begins to realize that her loving husband—the father of her infant daughter, her best friend, the love of her life—fits the textbook definition of psychopath. In a raw, first-person account, Waite recounts each heartbreaking discovery, every life-destroying lie, and reveals what happens once the dust finally settles on her demolished marriage.

After a disturbing email sparks Waite’s suspicion that her husband is having an affair, she tries to uncover the truth and rebuild trust in her marriage. Instead, she finds more lies, infidelity, and betrayal than she could have imagined. Waite obsessively analyzes her relationship, trying to find a single moment from the last five years that isn’t part of the long-con of lies and manipulation. With a dual-timeline narrative structure, we see Waite’s romance bud, bloom, and wither simultaneously, making the heartbreak and disbelief even more affecting.

About the Author

JEN WAITE become a licensed therapist, specializing in recovery from psychopathic relationships.

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