4 out of 4 stars
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Diane Pomerantz was shocked when it first dawned on her that her husband wasn’t who she thought he was. Though red flags had been present since the beginning of their relationship, Diane was able to rationalize them with the blinding affection she had for her husband. In her memoir, Lost In the Reflecting Pool, she describes the gradual process of waking up to the truly sadistic nature of her husband’s personality, and the immense task of rebuilding her life without her previous source of support.
At the start of their relationship, Diane is quickly won over by Charles’ charming and thoughtful gestures, and the instant connection they both seemed to feel. She overlooks several instances that cause warning bells to ring in her mind, such as the times her husband rants negatively about his parents, expressing high levels of unresolved rage and contempt for them. Their relationship is peaceful for the most part, and Diane explains away her husband’s bouts of questionable behavior as quirks. The couple move forward with plans to start a family, only succeeding after several years of frustrating difficulties with fertility. Upon Diane’s transition into motherhood, Charles suddenly begins treating her with direct contempt – almost as if the issues he had with his own mother were transferred to his wife.
The family faces several more difficult life situations, notably, the death of each of Diane’s parents, Diane’s own diagnosis of breast cancer, and eventually, the dissolution of Diane and Charles’ marriage. The author describes her battle with cancer with a raw authenticity of a survivor, giving a factual and emotional glimpse into the turmoil of that time. Witnessing the lack of care her husband exhibits for her during her difficult journey forces Diane to admit to herself that their relationship may not be salvageable. As if confirming her assessment, Charles continues to grow in his mistreatment of his wife, and by proxy, his two children.
This is an emotionally gripping and, at times, heartbreaking account of a marriage falling apart, and a woman learning how to build a life from scratch. The author’s story progresses along an even and logical timeline, building in intensity much like the building of the conflict within the marriage itself. The writing is clear and easy to follow, and the story is simple but engaging. One factor that increased the level of my interest was the fact that both Diane and her husband worked in the mental health field – she as a psychotherapist, and he a psychiatrist. Often, we idealize mental health providers as folks who ‘have all the answers’ or have unlocked a door to permanent happiness and problem-free living. This memoir demonstrates that none of us are immune to the problems that can plague a marriage, and that there are often no easy answers when it comes to choosing what is best for an entire family.
The author explains at the beginning that this memoir was written as a means for her to process through the memories of her marriage. As a reader, I found it fascinating to follow the journey of her and her husband’s relationship, from their early infatuation to the completely shattering end. The story is emotional without being melodramatic and delivers just the right level of detail about each of the family members involved. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I would recommend it to readers who are looking for memoirs about marriage and relationships, or specifically the topic of emotional abuse. This book also tells the story of the author’s journey through cancer and may interest readers of this topic. Overall, it is an emotional and (especially at the end) empowering read.
Lost in the Reflecting Pool
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