One can say that this book is a wonderful love story, but it is a novel far above the recounting of a romance. It is a story that moves through various twists and turns granting the mesmerized reader a good deal of sleepless moments while glued to the pages.
Maddie (Madeline) and Ian’s love story begins when she is in a position overseas and visits a friend of hers in a nearby country. At a party she meets Ian who is a professional soldier in the British army. He is currently part of a detachment guarding diplomats stationed at embassies in that country. She falls for him, and he for her but it takes a period of 16 years for the two to finally marry and settle in Maddie’s home state of Kansas. Their union produces a beautiful son named Charlie loved by both in a marriage that seems very successful.
Things change when Maddie suffers an accident during a camping trip, scarring her face and causing her to begin seeing a therapist to help her come to grips with the disfigurement. It is during her visits to the analyst that the fact that Ian suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) due to his constant postings into combat areas comes out. Since it is Maddie that is used as the first person narrator we learn much about the symptoms of Ian’s PTSD as outlined by her. She is, by her own admission, living with a man with an abundance of phobias that make life for both difficult.
The ending is an incredible piece of writing which brings the reader through several complete changes of view about what has and is happening. Ward has written other novels prior to “Beautiful Bad” but she has certainly vaulted to a place right at the apex of the literary world. I can’t wait for her next book and I’m sure that this will be the reaction of anyone reading this book.
3/19 Paul Lane
BEAUTIFUL BAD by Annie Ward. Knopf (March 5, 2019). ISBN 978-0525521877. 272p.