JG (The Introverted Reader)'s Reviews > Rose Madder

Rose Madder by Stephen King
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Sep 26, 2009

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bookshelves: 3_stars, z_author_american, fiction, horror, z_read_in_2009, reviewed, z_setting_us, strong_females, gave_away
Read in October, 2009

Rose Daniels has suffered through fourteen years of an abusive marriage. She finally leaves with nothing but the clothes on her back on the day that she realizes that her husband might not kill her. And that thought is worse than the thought that he might.

I know that this is Stephen King, and you should expect violence, but I just want to say right up front that there is at least one very violent scene of abuse that might be more than some readers bargain for. Some of us can handle a man-eating dog but domestic abuse might push some buttons. So just be prepared. As far as I remember, the worst scene is the prologue, so if you get through that you should be fine with everything else. Rosie has some vague recollections of more abuse, but we don't actually live through them with her.

I really liked this, but I think for me it would have worked a little better without the supernatural elements. That's probably just personal taste, but Norman is scary enough as he is.

One other complaint and then on to the good stuff.

I never noticed how much King likes italics until I read this book. Most of the book follows Rosie, but there are a few chapters from Norman's point of view sprinkled in. His chapters are in italics. At first, when it's just a little section, I was fine with it. But as the book went on, his sections got longer and longer and it was hard for me to read pages and pages of italics. And then the words that would normally have been italicized were in normal print, and I had a hard time interpreting all of that to put emphasis where it needed to go. I understand why he wrote it this way, I just wish he had found a different way to pull it off.

I'm glad King tackled domestic abuse. He's a best-selling author and he definitely has the sales to draw attention to the problem. (I haven't read Dolores Claiborne , but, rightly or wrongly, I think that deals with abuse too) I'm really glad that Norman was a cop. I'm not sure if this was just to give him more resources to track Rosie or if it was to show that abuse happens everywhere, not just in crack houses. Either way, I'm glad he was a working guy.

I liked Rosie. I think she as a character showed how easy it is to fall into this life. It's not just weak or mindless women. And she showed that there can be hope for those who reach out and try to find it.

There was a great supporting cast of characters too. I really liked Bill, and Pammie was a small character but likable as well. And then there was Gert. I absolutely loved Gert. She starred in my favorite scene! Rose Madder was freaky. Part of me even now writes her name thinking, "Don't look at her face! Don't look at her face!"

I recommend it to King fans who haven't read it, as long as you are prepared for the abuse.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Becky I've read this a couple times, and I don't recall the italics thing, but my last read of this was probably 2 years ago... Ok - I just pulled my copy off the shelf and see what you mean. That never bothered me at all. Hmm.

Anyway, I also know what you mean about the supernatural elements. Rose M. and Ferdinand represent the baser sides of their respective "hosts", I guess you could say, and they need a playground to act out their roles. But I do agree that the story would be just as good, and more believable and powerful, without that aspect.

You should definitely read Dolores Claiborne. It absolutely deals with abuse, many different kinds, and the supernatural elements are kept to a bare minimum. You'd probably also like Misery, if you haven't read it. :)

JG (The Introverted Reader) I'm working on Misery now. About halfway through.

Kandice Great review JG. I haven't read this in a couple of years, but I remember feeling the same way as you. The story would have been just as powerful without the supernatural bits.

I have said before that Norman is one of King's top 5 scary characters to me.

Becky JG wrote: "I'm working on Misery now. About halfway through."

I can't wait! :D

JG (The Introverted Reader) Norman and Annie Wilkes! I feel like I found two of his worst almost back-back!

Just finished Misery. The review will have to wait until the workweek is through (and I'm off the ipod keyboard and on the laptop), but I really liked it. I haven't seen the movie so I had no idea what to expect. I found myself reading with my shoulders and stomach muscles clenched up tight, waiting to see what she did next!

Becky They are despicable, aren't they? But just think, you'll have abs of steel! :D

I would have thought it impossible for anyone not born this year to have avoided references to Misery, especially the famous hobbling scene that scarred me for life and gave me a complex at the tender age of 8.

(Movie Spoiler!: In the movie, she props Pauls feet on blocks of wood and breaks his ankles with a sledgehammer. *shudder* I can't handle broken bones ever since.)

JG (The Introverted Reader) Abs of steel would be nice...

I just sort of knew that she trapped him and tortured him into writing. No specifics.


I don't know which is worse, lopping it off or smashing it. Probably smashing. Although my husband did look pretty horrified when I told him about the amputation, and he has seen the movie. I think the cauterizing did him in. He seemed to think that they must have toned the movie down.

Becky Uhh... I think the movie is way worse!! I mean, less irrevocable but, but... still.

JG (The Introverted Reader) I'm a chicken about scary movies, so I'm sure I'd agree with you. Maybe the hubby has just forgotten how bad the movie is, or maybe I'm a better storyteller than I thought. :-) He hasn't read it, so he only got the book filtered through me.

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