I read this book years ago, when we lived in North Caarolina. I thought it was a surprisingly interesting story about a narcissistic relationship, although I think it might have been self-published. It offers a revealing look at the welfare system in Switzerland, of all places! I am reposting it as/is today.
Swept off her feet… right into the Dumpster!
Lately, I’ve been discovering books written by “lesser known” authors on Amazon.com and have ended up finding several good memoirs. I have a special interest in memoirs about narcissists because my life has been “singed” by my husband’s time with one. Sarah Tate is a British woman living in Switzerland who spent several years married to a narcissist. She got out of the relationship, but not without a lot of stress, heartache, and financial ruin. Tate chronicles her experiences in her book, Web of Lies- My Life with a Narcissist (2011).
In 2001, Sarah Tate was a 30 year old single woman who had just moved to Switzerland for work. She was excited about the move and her job, which she truly enjoyed. One day at work, she met Bill, a man in his late 40s who radiated charm and charisma, even though he wasn’t particularly attractive to her. Bill was balding and somewhat paunchy, but he talked a really good game. When he asked Sarah out on a date, she accepted.
Bill showered Sarah with attention. He took her to very expensive restaurants, cooked her lavish meals, bought her gifts, and took her on amazing holidays. It wasn’t long before Sarah was securely under Bill’s spell and they were talking marriage.
Sarah was aware that Bill had been married twice before. With his first wife, he’d had three children who had become somewhat distant from him. His second wife was a German woman who was supposedly a friend. Bill explained that he and his second wife, Sofia, had a “business relationship” and had gotten married purely for tax and business reasons. They’d had no children; in fact, Bill said he wasn’t sure if they’d even consummated the marriage. Sadly, Bill’s second wife had killed herself, leaving Bill with the failing business. As Bill told it, Sofia had screwed him over and now he was dealing with the legal and financial aftermath.
Bill impressed Sarah with his stories of being able to command huge sums of money for his work. He always had big plans that would make him wealthy. Although some of what he said seemed too good to be true, Sarah pushed those thoughts out of her head. She was still caught up in the fairytale romance.
In 2002, Sarah and Bill were married in a lavish ceremony in a castle in Yorkshire, England. Sarah writes that as she was about to walk down the aisle, a little voice in her head warned her to “get out now!” But she got married anyway, and it wasn’t long at all before she was pregnant. Wanting to be a stay at home mom, Sarah decided to quit her job rather than just take maternity leave. Meanwhile, Bill decided he wanted to go into business for himself. He also quit his job.
It was about at this time that the fairytale romance started to slowly but inexorably turn into a nightmare. In her very well written and gripping account, Sarah Tate explains what it was like for her to be married to a narcissist. As the years passed and her three babies were born, Sarah Tate found herself trapped in a web of lies spun by her husband. He lied about his relationships, financial dealings, legal dealings, and work prospects. As she was confronted by each falsehood in the form of legal summonses and collections notices, Sarah fell into despair. As each lie eventually unraveled, Sarah became more and more determined to extricate herself and her children, escaping Bill’s web of lies, once and for all.
I read Web of Lies in one sitting because I had a hard time putting it down. Though I have been fortunate enough to avoid having an intimate relationship with a narcissist, my husband Bill was married to one for almost ten years. The aftermath of their marriage has been difficult to overcome and has resulted in some significant financial and personal losses. Like Sarah, my Bill had a little voice in his head begging him not to go through with the marriage. Like Sarah, my Bill ignored that little voice to his great detriment.
Anyone who has been involved with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder will likely recognize themselves in Sarah’s story. Anyone who has not been involved with a narcissist should count themselves lucky and read this book as a warning. That old adage about if things seem too good to be true, they probably aren’t, really rings true when you’re dealing with a narcissistic person. They lie, cheat, and steal, and they have no thought for anyone but themselves. They think no one else sees how brilliant they are as they try to execute their big plans, then wonder why eventually no one cuts them a break when they ultimately foul things up. When they get to that point, they have to move to a place where people don’t know them and start over. Eventually, they aren’t able to fool people anymore.
I spent about $2 on this book and I think it was worth every penny. Even as I sighed at Sarah’s naivete and moaned as I read about how easily she was swayed by what seemed like Bill’s wealth, I could also see how such a shower of attention and flattery could sway her. Most people would be overwhelmed by a person who seemed so taken with them and appeared to just want to take care of them, no questions asked. There are very few people who in the world who are genuinely like that, though, so anyone who is that intent on bowling you over is probably up to no good. If they are bombarding you with love, gifts, and attention, they are probably trying to blind you from seeing something ugly.
Sadly, Sarah’s three kids have a father who is a narcissist and they will have to live with that legacy. But at least their mother was able to get out of the marriage and is now rebuilding her life. As someone who came along post narcissistic relationship, I will tell you that rebuilding is possible, but difficult, and it doesn’t just affect you, it affects everyone who loves you… especially if there are children involved.
This book gets five stars from me.
Edited to add: Here’s a very interesting Amazon review… apparently, this woman almost fell for the same guy.
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