Within a span of four years, Stephen King wrote three novels that involved three different female characters overcoming oppressive male characters. In Delores Claiborne, the title character successfully stopped her husband from continuing to molest their daughter. In Gerald’s Game, Jessie Burlingame effectively, though not easily, rids herself of a husband who treats her as nothing more than a sexual toy.
Rose Madder begins as Rose Daniels has just suffered from a miscarriage after a brutal beating at the hands of her husband, Norman. The novel then shifts as, nine years later, Rose stares down at the white sheets which incase her bed and a single red drop of blood. What the reader is treated to in this moment is Rose’s breaking point. Unable to take it any longer, Rose commandeers her husband’s credit card and makes a run for it.
After taking refuge at a shelter for battered women by the name of Daughters and Sisters, Rose decides to pawn her engagement ring. Realizing that she’ll never be able to gain what she needs from the ring monetarily, she trades the ring for an obscure piece of art aptly titled, “Rose Madder.”
Meeting a man in the pawn shop that incites a romantic interest in Rose and taking on a job reading audio books, it seems that Rose’s life has finally entered a much needed renaissance. Of course, any reader who has ever read a book or seen a film knows that just when everything seems to be going right is the exact moment when everything starts going wrong.
Norman, using his tracking skills as a police officer, is becoming increasingly closer to finding Rose, leaving a bloody trail in his wake. All the while, Rose discovers that her newfound painting, which curiously bears no artist’s signature, is more than just a piece of art, bending the tale from one of a simple chase to a chase story that is embedded in the realm of the supernatural.
While not as engrossing as Delores Claiborne, Rose Madder does involve the reader in a chase that will keep them reading until the last sentence is read. In the end, the reader will find themselves hanging by the page to discover Rose’s fate, making the novel a worthy, if not flawed, read.
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