Monday, March 16, 2020

Book Review and Giveaway: Darling Rose Gold

By Jami Deise

Ever since it was a minor plot point in the movie The Sixth Sense, Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) has been a popular subject in fiction and nonfiction. While Gillian Flynn’s Strange Objects, recently the subject of an HBO miniseries, may be the most well-known story to hinge upon that reveal, other works do not play the twist so close to the vest. In author Stephanie Wrobel’s well-received debut, Darling Rose Gold, the syndrome is front and center as the author demonstrates the type of person who would deliberately sicken their child for attention, and what happens to the child who was tortured in this way. The result is a twisted work from which the reader cannot look away.

Rose Gold Watts grew up believing her various maladies, which forced her to be home-schooled, use a wheelchair, and shave her head, were the result of a chromosomal disorder. But a chance comment by a neighbor when she was 18 revealed the truth, and it was her testimony that sent her single mother Patty to jail for five years for child abuse. Now Patty has been released, and has moved in with Rose Gold and her baby, Adam. But is Rose Gold really as forgiving as she appears?

The novel is told from both women’s first-person point of view, and that is its biggest advantage and biggest drawback. Likability in fiction is a much-debated topic, and neither protagonist is likable. Patty is incapable of introspection or taking responsibility, and Rose Gold has been severely damaged emotionally from her mother’s medical abuse and emotional control, as well as her own isolation. In the first several chapters, this combination makes it difficult to root for either woman, and the reader isn’t necessarily compelled to keep going. Even Patty’s own childhood abuse isn’t enough to create concern for the character.

As the novel progresses, however, the author’s use of non-linear structure (it begins five years in the past, and goes back and forth between that time period and what happens after Patty’s release from jail) lets a stronger picture of Rose Gold emerge. Mysteries in the timeline are presented and eventually resolved in ways that are emotionally satisfying for the reader. Although I finished the book thinking that a major unforeseen plot twist was implausible, I appreciated it just the same.

By the end of the book, Wrobel proves that a protagonist does not have to be likable for a reader to root for her. A clever character who gets the better of her antagonists is worth following any day.

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have one copy to give away!

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20 comments:

Cherisse said...

Carrie’s mom in Carrie!

traveler said...

Mrs. Bennett in P & P.

Tracy Wirick said...

Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest 😳

Melissa said...

Snow White's stepmother

Grandma Cootie said...

So many in books, movies and real life. How about that mother from Colorado (?) who just flew with boyfriend to Hawaii (?) and nobody knows where her 2 kids are?

holdenj said...

Those are good ones! I would chime in with Cinderella's stepmother too.

diannekc said...

Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest

Peggy Russo said...

Margaret, the mother in Carrie. I'll never forget her.

Nancy said...

The first one that came to mind is Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest.

Mary Preston said...

TV show - Roseanne.

Techeditor said...

Joan Crawford

Nancy Payette said...

Marie on Everybody Loves Raymond

bn100 said...

Jane Fonda in Monster-in-Law

Xia Lee said...

Jane Fonda in Monster-in-Law

Lelandlee said...

Jane Fonda in Monster-in-Law

Kate Vocke said...

Emily on Gilmore Girls... but she comes around!

Elena Y. said...

Patsy from Patsy

rubynreba said...

Roseanne on her TV show

Amber said...

Jane Fonda in Monster In Law.

Jeanne said...

I just rewatched Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella on YouTube and find myself angered by the wicked stepmother. She wins the prize as the worst!