Book of the Week 2/25/13

I had the honor of reading this dynamic book back in August 2011, and for anyone who has been in a precarious relationship with a man or woman will identify with the story of Barbara Bentley and John Perry.

A dashing, successful man comes into your life and sweeps you away. Enthralled with each other, the next logical step is marriage.

But what happens when you discover the one you loved and married isn’t who they appear to be?

The above scenario – and more – happened to Barbara Bentley, who outlines her true story of marriage to a man who nearly killed her in the book A Dance With the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath (Berkley/Penguin, 2008).

John Perry seemed to be the perfect mate for Barbara – worldly, intelligent, and sophisticated. Soon, when a lot of John’s stories didn’t add up, she became evasive when she would question him, her debt mounting from John’s excessive spending, his manipulations and trails of lies, but she still remained with him.

Little by little, Barbara began to discover the truth about John, which led to his eventual attempt to murder her, proving himself not the loving man Barbara had married, but the total sociopathic predator he actually was.

A Dance With the Devil succinctly outlines Barbara Perry’s moments from the start of her relationship with John Perry, the excitement and glamor of becoming an “admiral’s wife,” right through to the terrifying moments when she discovers John was never an admiral or other things he’d claimed – but spent the last 40 years as a con man.

Barbara tells her story without revealing too much too soon; the reader is pulled into her experiences of her 14-year marriage to John right from the beginning. Near the end of A Dance With the Devil, the real John Perry is unmasked. However, her bad experience isn’t written in a bitter tone of self-pity, but one which helps others take a closer look at their current relationships and not push aside any doubts – no matter how small they may be.

Cover to cover, A Dance With the Devil is an excellent read and difficult to set down once the pages begin turning. I’m sure there are many readers who could (or already can) identify with her experience. In addition to writing her book, Barbara took another step forward and pushed to change the laws in California.

This book is a highly recommended read in true-life experiences which make a woman stronger rather than tear her down.