Book Review: The Pygmalion Complex

By Ashley Laura Smith

The Pygmalion Complex was written by Elaine Gordon. The story is about Romana Randall and starts just at the end of her marriage. Her husband cheated on her and got another woman pregnant but Romana had been willing to forgive him. Graydon is insistent on their divorce because he plans to marry his mistress. The first chapter begins just after she signs the divorce papers. In the divorce papers, it stated Graydon would get to keep his ancestral home while she would move out with the children and he would pay for any house she wanted no matter what the cost. This is where Romana finally realizes the freedom she’d never had before. The divorce papers never said she had to live close. So she chooses the best place she could think of, New York City. It was far enough away from Chicago to give her freedom from her ex-husband and her parents.

Her children adjust to their new life in New York City easily by Romana does not. She focuses her life around her two children and their dog.  While the kids are off at school she often finds herself staring out the window across the street at another apartment building. She lived her life through what she sees in her binoculars. But one day, while rushing the children off to school, she is handed a note by her doorman. When she finally gets a chance to read it she’s horrified to find out that she had been caught at what she was doing and they would go to the police if she continued to do so.

What’s a well-mannered socialite to do? Of course send an apologetic note back with a batch of homemade cookies and brownies. Leaving her signature at the bottom, she walks the food and letter over and leaves it with the man at the front desk. To her surprise, later that night she receives a call from the man she had been spying on. He loved her baked goods and begs her to come over for dinner. She tries to refuse but in the end he won out.

After her children leave for summer vacation with their father, Romana finds herself wallowing but soon Kent Cunningham- a famous fashion designer- has her life spinning up to new heights; first a film premiere which makes most of the fashion world take notice of her then her very own morning program where she gets to interview different women who have succeeded in their chosen fields.

For a woman empowerment story, Romana’s character is very weak. Even at the very end she’s not the one protecting herself. There’s always someone there to take care of her.  She does become a bit strong by the end but it would have been nice to see more character development.   Love at first sight between a gay man and a heartbroken divorcée? It’s completely unrealistic. The thing between them is more of a best friend relationship. The reader could see themselves there with their best friends in roles of the characters.

There was a wide variety of characters in this story. Each character had a different personality. Belinda becomes Romana’s arch-nemesis but hardly ever makes an appearance in the books. Her ex husband was more of a nemesis and his hidden secrets are more than a little jarring. The dialogue was also a bit stiff in some points. There was a lot of exposition throughout the story. If the writer had converted some of that, such as the scenes with the kids, into scenes it would have made for a much more enjoyable book.

The beginning was a bit slow. It was only until around page fifty that the pace really started picking up. If you are willing to overlook a slow beginning you may really enjoy this book. There were points in the plot that I really enjoyed. Overall I found this book interesting. I couldn’t wait to turn the page to find out what was happening next. I also loved the little details about the fashions in the books. The reader could in vision all the clothes.

If you want to read a book that touches on women from all walks of life and shows that anything is possible, this is the book for you. If you are more into books heavily populated with romance and even raunchy scenes, this isn’t the book for you, but that doesn’t make this one any less worthy of a read. 

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