Review by Rachael J Hughes
As the title states, what a beautiful and terrible book! Written with a dual-timeline narrative, A Beautiful and Terrible Thing (Plume, July 2017) propels the reader into a fairy tale romance that evolves into a raw reality of lies, infidelity, and heartbreak.
Told with such tremendous rhetoric, the reader is instantly drawn to the driven and charismatic Marco, almost falling in love with him right alongside Waite. She writes in a manner in which you are not walking through this beside her, rather, you are transported into her shoes through the string of beautiful and terrible events of her story. You will feel her warmth and sincerity as you get to know her through the situations she experiences—from loving and supportive wife to an emotionally paralyzed victim of psychopathy.
The tick-tock rhythm of her dual-timeline narrative carries the reader from overwhelming joy and hope to breathless despair; we, too, are mesmerized by the dark stranger; we become the paranoid wife, questioning everything as we try to put it out of our minds. We are with her every step of the way as she reviews each moment, each nuance, that reveals her spouse’s rabid unfaithfulness, deceit, and manipulation.
The reader will most likely feel devastated, along with Waite, as she gives birth to the beautiful baby girl they created, only to discover the portal of lies, infidelity, and betrayal Marco has been leaving behind, like inept breadcrumbs falling from a torn pocket.
Aptly named, their story is both beautiful and terrible—Waite, who is a beautiful and promising young woman trying to make her way through the uncertain waters of life, and Marco, a deceitful, consuming sociopath drinking up every bit of vigor and joy that she exudes.
This book is for anyone who has been involved in a destructive relationship; it is a story that must be read. It comes with a vague warning that you will not be able to put it down, and that your thoughts will be haunted by the destructing hurt Marco inflicts on Jen, a hurt that is written so viscerally that it cannot help but infiltrate your mind. Yet, it sings of the beauty of overcoming such pain, and in that experience, the reader knows she is not alone. It is a book to be recommended many times over.