Monday, May 9, 2011

Rose Madder by Stephen King

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  After 14 years of being beaten, Rose Daniels wakes up one morning and leaves her husband -- but she keeps looking over her shoulder, because Norman has the instincts of a predator. And what is the strange work of art that has Rose in a kind of spell? In this brilliant dark-hued fable of the gender wars, Stephen King has fashioned yet another suspense thriller to keep readers right at the edge.

And here's what I thought:   This book was a re-read for me for a few reasons.  First, I realized I had gotten into April and hadn't read anything for the Stephen King challenge I had signed up for.  Second, I was going to be traveling and thought this would be a good book to re-read, since I had read it before (and I could download it from my library).  Re-reading the book, I found I enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time.

I happen to be a fan of Stephen King, although I admit that I don't love all of his books.  I went through a phase when I was in junior high, reading Christine, and The Shining, and Carrie .....  and then I got stuck on Firestarter and Cujo.   Now that I've been reading his books for years, it seems that I like about every other one; I've read The Stand many times, read It more than once, and The Talisman, which he wrote with Peter Straub, is one of my all-time favorite books.  With this book, however, I found a different side of Stephen King, which I find interesting.

As you can see from the summary above, our main character is Rose Daniels, a woman who has been abused by her husband for years, and who makes the abrupt decision to leave him.   But what happens is something that you may or may not expect (actually, if you read Stephen King, you might completely expect what happens).  Turns out that Rose's husband is a police detective, who has a bit of an anger management problem.  Rose has good reason to believe she can't trust the police if she reports her husband, so when she takes off, she just goes -- no plans, no idea what she's going to do.   Lucky for Rose, a good samaritan helps her find a shelter for abused women, and once she's there, it seems like her life is back on a better track.   All seems to be progressing normally until Rose discovers a painting in a pawn shop, a painting that she can't get out of her mind, and which, once she hangs it on her wall, seems to draw her in to a different world, where she discovers an inner strength she didn't know she had.  

I'm not going to say much more, but expect that because this is Stephen King, there is going to be some unpleasant business before the story ends.  However, I enjoy reading this book because not only does it have a female main character who is realistic and believable, but who is also written quite well (which I always appreciate when the author is of the opposite sex).   I also appreciate that King takes a horrifying topic, of men who abuse women, and shows the real side of it, while at the same time introducing a somewhat fantastical element (of the world in the painting).   This story is set in a nightmare, both real and imagined.   The pacing is quick and the story pulls me in every time I read it.   I don't know if it's a book for every reader, but if all you know of Stephen King are a few of his other books, you might want to give this one a try for something different.

First sentence:  Sorry, I don't have this one -- my e-book expired, and the library's copy is checked out (and of course, my own paperback is in a box in a closet....).

Thoughts on the cover:  I have used the cover art from the paperback I own.  The cover doesn't make much sense until you read the story --- then, it all comes together in a nicely menacing way.


Teacher/Learner said...

I forgot about this book! Thanks for the review :) I also love Stephen King books, especially Different Seasons, The Green Mile, Carrie, and The Shining. I'm planning to read The Stand for the SK challenge. It looks like a daunting task but I can't wait to start it.

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