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A Beautiful, Terrible Thing

A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal
By: Jen Waite
Narrated by: Jen Waite
Length: 6 hrs and 41 mins
4 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

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Editor reviews

Editors Select, July 2017

Even if you’ve never experienced betrayal at the magnitude the author has, I think it’s safe to say we’re all familiar with the sensation of being blindsided - and it’s that connection that makes this moving, unflinching memoir so powerful. In her own words and voice, Jen Waite describes how one shocking revelation of infidelity led to the discovery that her devoted husband, the father of her newborn daughter, was not the person she believed him to be - and that he might, in fact, be a psychopath (her own diagnosis, admittedly). With raw honesty, Waite fearlessly recounts the grief it caused her. At first her narration is understated, but as the story progresses, it becomes a downright intimate experience. Her voice breaks when she talks about the most painful parts of her ordeal and rises with the hint of a smile as she recounts the early days of her relationship and later, when she begins to triumph on her own. This can’t have been an easy story to put to paper, let alone read aloud, but Waite did an excellent job with both tasks. —Sam, Audible Editor

Summary

A woman discovers her marriage is built on an illusion in this harrowing and ultimately inspiring memoir.

“Be forewarned: You won’t sleep until you finish the last page.” (Caroline Leavitt, author of Cruel Beautiful World)

One night. One email. Two realities.

Before: Jen Waite has met the partner of her dreams. A handsome, loving man who becomes part of her family, evolving into her husband, her best friend, and the father of her infant daughter.

After: A disturbing email sparks suspicion, leading to an investigation of who this man really is and what was really happening in their marriage.

In alternating Before and After chapters, Waite obsessively analyzes her relationship, trying to find a single moment form the past five years that isn't part of the long con of lies and manipulation. Instead, she finds more lies, infidelity, and betrayal than she could have imagined. 

With the pacing and twists of a psychological thriller, A Beautiful, Terrible Thing looks at how a fairy tale can become a nightmare and what happens when “it could never happen to me” actually does.

©2017 Jen Waite (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

“Waite has a knack for showing the ways that cognitive dissonance can chart pathways in the mind that cause emotional confusion to obscure rational thought.” (Meghan Daum, New York Times Book Review)

“[Waite's] memoir is a great source of strength.” (Hello Giggles)

  “Heartbreaking and riveting.” (Bustle)

 

"Like Big Little Lies, A Beautiful Terrible Thing is a startling reminder that fairy tales aren't real. A master class in suspenseful storytelling, Jen Waite recounts the lies, betrayals, and infidelity she endured with unrestrained honesty and deft candor. I couldn't turn away." (Jillian Lauren, New York Times best-selling author of Some Girls: My Life in a Harem and Everything You Ever Wanted)

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Profile Image for MaryPat
  • MaryPat
  • 29-08-17

There are people out there waiting for her...

I'm so surprised that people are being so incredibly hard on this author. She's a non-celebrity, first time author writing a memoir. What did you expect?
In a way I'm relieved that more people do not relate to the story, perhaps there just aren't that many people who have experienced anything remotely close to this, or haven't admitted experiencing it. But why all the nasty comments? Why the name calling? What are you saying? She should have seen it coming? Or... that her parents are successful so she deserved it? I was a middle class girl with 6 siblings who was a nurse in an inner city hospital when I got swept away by a "Marco" and Let me tell you it ain't easy ! I'm over here THIRTY FIVE years later still living with the aftermath.
I appreciate Jen's story and her courage in telling it. It truly helps. And if there is an element of revenge, good for her he deserves it.
There were times when I wanted to scream at her to knock it off and move on but, she is Jen and I am not and we are all wired differently. One thing I know for sure, panic attacks are paralyzing and debilitating and she certainly got that across to the reader.
Yes, she played amateur psychiatrist but don't kid yourself we all do it,and would it have been more credible had she gone to the library and read an actual book as opposed to using the internet? She also backed it up with professional opinion. Many many mental health opinions are formulated from hearsay.
The books I LOVE and give 5 stars to are The Grapes of Wrath and The Century Trilogy. These amateur non-celebrity memoirs are in a class of their own and this one is pretty close to the top. A good story, a real heartbreaking life event that we can ALL learn something from and hopefully pass down to our daughters and sons.
If Jen were standing here in front of me I would say "good job and thank you for your courage and honesty". I would wish her luck and tell her I hope she finds love and I would tell her I hope she does go on to become a licensed therapist because there are hurting people out there waiting for her.

28 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Phoebe
  • 31-07-17

Good, but...

I enjoyed A Beautiful, Terrible Thing, but I was expecting more. Jen told an insightful story of marriage and betrayal, an important story for survivors of abuse & their loved ones. As a survivor of domestic violence, I appreciated that Jen handled her story without being overly salacious. The memoir was real, raw, and inspiring. That said, as a listener, I was almost expecting more... a plot twist of some sort that we never quite got. Not wishing that Jen had been forced to survive a more painful time, but I do wish the book was more accurately marketed - as a tale of survival. Instead the book is sold almost as a thriller. Jen's narration was good, you could hear the rawness of her emotions many times throughout her reading, though it is clear that she was a professional actress and at times her voice was a bit rehearsed sounding. Overall, the narration improved the book and gave you a sense of connection to the author and her story. I would recommend this book to any person who has seen a loved one unravel and is looking to feel a sense of connection.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • P. Thomson.
  • 05-08-17

Struggled to finish.

A very sad recollection of a tragic marriage, where she had the guts to walk away from. The writing is unfortunately mediocre and bland, for ex. The overuse of the petname ' babe, baby ' is annoying and tedious. The narration is unprofessional . l will not recommend this book

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • jeannie mcnichols
  • 27-07-17

First half held my interest, then I got bored

First off... the author is not the greatest narrator. She's not terrible, but there were many, many times where she sounded like a junior high school student reading aloud in class. N

The first half of the book was quite interesting. I listen to audiobooks on my drive to work, and I found myself eagerly looking forward to my time in the car to hear what came next.

Unfortunately, I felt the story really fizzled. I won't give the plot away... but from the introduction, I was expecting something really horrific. Not to make light of what happened .. it truly was awful. But the way the events were built up at the beginning.., I found myself thinking "that's it?" And I know this sounds callous... but the way she describes her reactions to the events, I couldn't help thinking "buck up girl! Yes... your husband is an a$$, but you still have a heck of a lot going for you! You have a place to go, supportive parents, someone to help you, etc". Again, I don't mean to make light of the situation, but her reactions were just so over the top. I've known people and read about others who had it much much worse and handled it without melting down like she did. Ultimately, I couldn't listen to the last 1.5 hours because I was just so annoyed with the author.

26 of 32 people found this review helpful

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  • MyPublicName
  • 03-08-17

Feels like a really long Facebook post

This book spends far too much time on the minutia of details like "omg is he cheating?" Uh, it doesn't matter! Especially after that fact while writing the book. The first correlation between the other woman and his actions was proof enough anyway. And, she's called "the Croatian"?? Come on. I regret my purchase and only listened to the end because I was hoping we would be told more about all the warning signs she missed along the way.

18 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • GCS18
  • 11-11-17

Can’t believe how good this was

I had sort of moderate hopes, was looking for something absorbing and man, this was beyond moving. I identified DEEPLY with the author and I’m glad she narrated it herself. Usually I prefer “professionals”...her wound is still raw and you can hear it in her voice. I felt her conflicted emotions in my gut. I just can’t get enough of her story and even though she doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the people who screwed up her life, I applaud her. Because it was just that f-cking horrible. Warning it might be a little triggering for women who have suffered from a cheating partner.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for DFW
  • DFW
  • 28-07-17

It Started Out Good

This book started out with a bang and then the author turned pathetic. I know, I know, it's horrible how some women are treated but there is a time to let go and get on with it. It almost seems like we lose track of who is the sociopath in this book. Get on with it, girl. Let him go. Quit trying to change him or fix him and get on with your life.

This author turned from a sleuth into a whiny, pathetic excuse for a scorned women. Is this book a revenge book?

Oh, and I really don't need to know every single time she nursed her baby. TMI!!!

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Rebecca
  • Rebecca
  • 27-07-17

Un-put-downable.

This is a deeply personal account of an idealistic young wife's discovery that the man she married, the father of her newborn daughter, the co-creator of a life she deeply loved, didn't exist. She had been completely taken in by a very charming man with absolutely no shame, and no remorse. A man willing to destroy anyone in his way.
Written and narrated by the woman who lived it. So emotionally charged I listened to it non-stop in one day.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • River Holmes-miller
  • 22-07-17

Privileged princess meets self-absorbed man

Would you try another book from Jen Waite and/or Jen Waite?

No. Beyond feeling very wronged by her husband, the author appears to have very little personal insight into human nature, psychology, motherhood, or anything else. She presents her experience with her husband in alternating "Before" and "After" chapters, a device that could have been interesting, had the "Before" chapters held any insight at all into her husband's real character. Instead, they read like the saccharine journal entries one might expect from a 20-something in love...hours and hours about a love story that feels superficial and pretty, but seems entirely lacking in substance.

Would you ever listen to anything by Jen Waite again?

No. If this is the most interesting thing that has ever happened to her, I can't imagine what else I need to hear.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

She does not sound like a grown mother and grown woman, but more like a college girl who alternates between being in love and having a bone to pick with her disappointing husband. It's a cadence issue (imagine an happy/angry sorority girl and you will have it about right).

What character would you cut from A Beautiful, Terrible Thing?

I would cut the baby our of the story simply because she deserves so much more than a mother who bemoans how her husband is missing out on his own child, when she herself is too self-absorbed to do more than keep the kid clothed and fed.

Any additional comments?

After a few minutes Googling "sociopath" this woman comes to the erroneous conclusion that her husband is one. Sorry, but lying to one's wife about an affair does not make a person a sociopath. Had the author discovered he had lied about EVERY SINGLE THING in his life -- for example, had she found out he had four other families, had spent time in jail, and was not actually from Argentina, she might have made her case. But husbands can lie right to your face and do it for years and not be a sociopath. There was no pattern of deceit or antisocial behavior, beyond trying to cover an affair. Frankly, the publishers should have caught the error in the author's thinking and spared us all from her amateur psychobabble.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for CJM
  • CJM
  • 13-08-17

Pathetic

I have listened to hundreds, maybe a thousand Audible books and this is my first and only review and its inspired by this pathetic book.

It's about a pretty, rich, and I'm sure a Facebook perfect woman who cheats on her boyfriend with her future husband and then is "devastated" when her husband cheats on her when she is pregnant. She then goes on to try and make the case he is a sociopath. She finds a dime store therapist and some articles on Google (shocking) that just confirm her bias.... she is clearly perfect and no one would ever cheat on her. She has a tremendous support network from her obviously well to do parents.....thank god because no way she could face a problem on her own.

The sad thing the author doesn't realize, as she denigrates her ex in an obvious attempt to get even, is that she forgets she has a daughter with him who not only shares his DNA but hopefully will grow up and love her father.....good luck explaining your neurotic nature and disdain for her father. Divorce is a dirty nasty thing. I'd sue her for defamation if I was her ex....

if you just read the above review, don't waste your time on the book.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful