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A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal

Review

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal

A marriage full of hope, sensuality and excitement becomes a nightmare of regret in this harrowing memoir by Jen Waite.

Waite was an aspiring actress reduced to waitressing in New York City to get by, when she met the dark and handsome Marco, an Argentinian by birth. She was so overwhelmed by this bar manager’s charms that overnight, literally, she broke up with her boyfriend and began to devote her entire being to Marco, who, it seemed, regarded her as the girl of his dreams. It wasn't long before she married him, enabling him to get a green card to reside in the US, willingly invested all her savings in his new business, all but adopted his young son by a previous marriage, and gave him a daughter, Louisa.

"Like a good mystery writer, Waite allows us to suspect, and she throws in clues just as she herself uncovered them, but it is not until the end of the book that the full truth is revealed and all the nasty little facts come to light..."

Then things began to change, rapidly. Marco was often away on "business," and when he was home, he was cold, often abusive. Waite soon discovered via emails and Facebook that he was involved with another woman --- single, blonde, unattached. How could this be happening?

As Waite's story, which is written in alternating "Before" and "After" passages, evolves, we see, as she discovered it, the patterns of lying and dodging that Marco was capable of, and the full extent of his perfidies. For every accusation from his wife, he immediately produced a perfectly logical explanation to deflect her increasing anger and despair. Convincing her that there was someone, but just a co-worker, then just a friend, then a girlfriend with whom he never had sex, he kept Waite on a fraying leash until she was able to prove absolutely that he had broken his word. Then friends stepped in to reveal even more deceptions. Waite's parents became her most loyal supporters, taking her and Louisa into their home and gently pushing her to admit the truth to herself and seek therapeutic help.

Like a good mystery writer, Waite allows us to suspect, and she throws in clues just as she herself uncovered them, but it is not until the end of the book that the full truth is revealed and all the nasty little facts come to light: the broken bed, the laundered sheets, the phone calls made from a hotel after Marco had sworn not to contact the other woman. "Now I understand," Waite opines, "why sociopaths are dubbed 'human heroin.' I have been shooting pure, unadulterated psychopathic love into my bloodstream for five years." Through therapy she painfully examines Marco's profile --- classic sociopath --- and the progression of her tacit cooperation with it. There is a chill of horror too, as she realizes how close she might have been to death, as Marco, utterly selfish and self-protecting, felt the need to destroy all traces of his increasingly annoying, accusatory spouse.

The redemptive, recuperative silver lining in this "beautiful, terrible" ruinous relationship is Waite's decision to pursue a career as a licensed therapist who will specialize in helping others who, like her, become entrapped in such painful, destructive and potentially very dangerous affairs.

Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott on July 11, 2017

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal
by Jen Waite

  • Publication Date: July 11, 2017
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Plume
  • ISBN-10: 0735216460
  • ISBN-13: 9780735216464