Stephen King begins Rose Madder at the end of a marriage.
One day Rosie Daniels can’t take any more. She takes her husband’s debit card, painfully walks to the bus station, and rides away from the husband who repeatedly had put her in the hospital.
Her husband, Norman, is a cop. He’s really good at finding people.
Rosie gets off the bus in a city in the next time zone. She has no family, no friends, no job skills.
She has to find a way to survive until she can build a new life for herself.
Rosie finds friends, work, and a decent guy at supersonic speed.
That story alone would be enough for most novelists to tackle. As he did in his 1994 novel Gerald’s Game, King makes his heroine’s situation worse by bringing in a supernatural element. In Rose Madder, that element is a painting of another world into which Rosie is literally drawn.
Had King confined his tale to the real world, the story would have been terrifying. The addition of the supernatural dilutes the story’s impact with fake gore and glosses over the long-term physical and psychological effects of abuse.
Rose Madder does no favors to readers or abused women.
Rose Madder by Stephen King
Viking. ©1995. 420 p.
1995 bestseller #7; my grade: B-
©2020 Linda G. Aragoni