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Summary

An International Best Seller

"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. 

It all started with an email....

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

"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)

What members say

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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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.

13 of 14 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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • 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 onions 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.

4 of 4 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

4 of 4 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.

4 of 4 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.

23 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Codeedar
  • 04-08-17

Disappointing

I expected more than a wife cheater who doted on his wife and treated her well. Her emotional responses were overplayed. She lives a charmed life and fell in love with a charming man who couldn't be faithful. That's all.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Dusty M.
  • 09-08-17

No no no

This was so painful to listen to! I kept telling myself I had to finish the book since I paid for it. I understand she's the author so she doesn't have that "voice of radio" but omg her tone was killing me. I get that she is heartbroken and her husband is a piece of sh** liar but do we need a whole book to talk about it?

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Myriam
  • 02-08-17

Underwhelming

Any additional comments?

I listened to the whole thing, waiting for the big reveal of what crazy crazy things the author's psychopath husband did, but it never came. He cheated. Turns out he cheated a lot, and then refused to admit his guilt. He sucked, but the author's take on this seems to be that she had gone through something particularly, specially traumatizing, and I couldn't figure out what was so completely shocking about it. Traumatizing, yes, but an experience worthy of a best-selling book? I just don't see it.

Also, as just a small, niggling point, I was downright grateful to reach the point of the story where she no long had flashbacks to before the breakup, because the dialogue where she and her ex call each other 'babe' constantly got really grating.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • bob.oneill
  • 01-08-17

Hell Hath No Fury

Ugh. One reviewer called this book a "A master class in suspenseful storytelling...that recounts the lies, betrayals, and infidelity she endured with unrestrained honesty, deft and candor..." To me, this read no differently than any number of high school tales of woe where boy and girl fall in love, coast on love, and then the jilted girl realizes her beau has moved on to his next conquest.

Near as I can tell this woman "endured" a brief marriage that included infidelity. Infidelity, and the lying that naturally comes with it, are hardly textbook signs of psychopathy...and the real failure was building a relationship on the giddy, full-body orgasm that is new love, instead of taking a mature step back and asking some serious questions about shared values.

The author is a victim, because she ignored some very clear warnings: 1. hubby-to-be was an illegal alien. (but it was OK to forge ahead in marriage because he had awesome physical attributes?) 2. hubby-to-be had one failed marriage, and a child. (but the child showed signs of advanced intelligence, so -clearly- the father gets credit for that) 3. hubby-to-be worked in a job that allowed him to hide his naturalization status; he wasn't a career-track sommelier who worked in the food service industry, because he had a passion for customer service and fine wine...he was a bartender who -like most successful bartenders- could flirt well.

This book also portrays what the husband felt as some sort of medical mystery, when it simply sounds like he was overworked, had poor sleep hygiene, all the while facing the reality we all face in real relationships when the fun ends and the real work begins...and finding answers to life's issues on Google is sheer nonsense. Google is simply a web crawler that gathers up all of the internet's existing stuff...and presents it in easy-to-understand web layouts...Google is NOT an all-knowing oracle.

This so-called psychopath was a new dad and husband and yet he still craved the fresh-makeup "new-ness" of Month 1 Love. Immature men will keep seeking that out when they don't know, or were never taught by a responsible father figure, what it means to remain dutiful as you transition from a man in the whirl of chemical love to a man who must forge a meaningful, loving, partnership after the chemical love fades....the chemicals went away and this guy spun out of control...again, he's not a psychopath...he's immature.

I bought this book, because I was hoping to share experiences with an author who endured some serious marital pathology. In my own case, I've got 14 years in a marriage where "gaslighting" is a daily or weekly issue. I married with a vow of "for better or worse"....when the marriage ends (with one of our death's), I will have done my part.

What I got instead was a book with an author who had a preconceived idea of marriage, and when her own marriage fell short of that expectation, there seemingly had to be a serious, medical, reason for the failure...so the ex-husband gets to be a psychopath, while the ex-wife -who hasn't made it as an actress- finally gets the publicity she needs to live in the public eye.

By the way...cheating is wrong...but isn't all cheating wrong? Why was it OK to gloss over the pre-marriage cheating, and yet somehow the post-marriage cheating takes on some new significance??

5 of 6 people found this review helpful