Review: Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

49223060._SY475_Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

Published: March 17, 2020 by Berkley

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Synopsis: Sharp Objects meets My Lovely Wife in this tightly drawn debut that peels back the layers of the most complicated of mother-daughter relationships…

For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she’s forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…

And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home.

Rating: 4 star

Review: Now this is the kind of debut novel I have been wanting to read lately! It seems that a lot of the books I’ve read have been hit or miss. Either very good or very bad. But this was absolutely wonderful! It made me deeply uncomfortable, which was the point. I compare it to watching a slow motion car crash, you know that only bad things are coming but you can’t bear to look away either.

I truly love a book that has a flawed narrator, not being able to fully trust the story they are telling you adds an interesting element to the story. But what happens when you can’t trust any of the narrators? That makes for a fascinating story.

Reading Patty’s narration was sort of like rolling around in mud. It sticks to you and makes you feel gross. Even though you tried to shower it all away, there’s still the odd smudge of grossness here or there that makes you feel disgusting all over again when you discover it. You know that she isn’t telling the truth. You know in your heart that she did all the horrible things that Rose Gold says she did. Part of you really wants to see her punished for it. As a mother, I was thoroughly rooting for her demise.

Then we have Rose Gold. Her anger and need for revenge is entirely justified. She found out that her mother permanently ruined her life. Her teeth are rotting out of her head, everyone knows too many details about her childhood, and she will forever be the girl that her mother created. I really rooted for her, but as the book went on I found it harder and harder to do that. More and more she was reminding me of her mother instead of her mother’s victim.

I did not see the ending coming. Parts of it yes, but the thorough depravity of it surprised me. And it was wonderful to see how all the pieces played out. But this is also where the book lost a star for her. I found it hard to believe that the police would buy that Patty had forced Rose Gold to take a specific action a full month before she got released from prison. Surely they would have been ever slightly suspicious of the timing on that right? But apart from that, it was a wonderful book. I will be keeping an eye out for this author in the future.

Review: Love, As Always, Mum by Mae West

41947476._SY475_Love, as Always, Mum by Mae West

Published: September 6th, 2018 by Seven Dials

Buy this book at: Amazon | B&N

Synopsis: The true story of an abused childhood, of shocking brutality and life as the daughter of notorious serial killer, and master manipulator, Rose West.

You’re 21-years-old. Police arrive on the doorstep of your house, 25 Cromwell Street, with a warrant to search the garden for the remains of your older sister you didn’t know was dead. Bones are found and they are from more than one body. And so the nightmare begins. You are the daughter of Fred and Rose West.

‘Mae, I mean this … I’m not a good person and I let all you children down …’ Rose West, HM PRISON DURHAM

It has taken over 20 years for Mae West to find the perspective and strength to tell her remarkable story: one of an abusive, violent childhood, of her serial killer parents and how she has rebuilt her life in the shadow of their terrible crimes.

Through her own memories, research and the letters her mother wrote to her from prison, Mae shares her emotionally powerful account of her life as a West. From a toddler locked in the deathly basement to a teen fighting off the sexual advances of her father, Mae’s story is one of survival. It also answers the questions: how do you come to terms with knowing your childhood bedroom was a graveyard? How do you accept the fact your parents sexually tortured, murdered and dismembered young women? How do you become a mother yourself when you’re haunted by the knowledge that your own mother was a monster? Why were you spared and how do you escape the nightmare?

 

Rating: 4 star

Review: I have my mother-in-law to blame for my fascination with Fred and Rose West. Years back when I was dating my husband she heard that I am a fan of reading and a big fan of true crime. So she passed along a book about Fred West that she had just finished. Since then I’ve read several more. And on her last visit to us, as the wonderful enabler that she is, she brought me this. I was not quite sure what to expect since I know the children’s reactions to the discovery of the crimes and subsequent trial/imprisonment is varied. Some were supportive of their parents and others were vehemently against them.

I was not expecting to be as profoundly moved by this book as I was. I found myself empathizing and identifying with Mae West in a way that I didn’t foresee. While her parents might have been more than your typical brand of evil, the mark of an abusive childhood is unchanged. It was quite interesting to me to hear about the view of the crimes and their parents from one of the children. And I identified with her when she said that people didn’t understand how she could love her parents even when they abused her horrifically. That is the cycle of abuse. And my heart broke at this young woman who couldn’t find someone to understand. As a child in abuse, you can’t escape. You can’t just decide to not love your parents. You can understand that what they are doing isn’t right on one hand and also be desperately fearful that they’ll abandon you on the other. It’s incomprehensible to people who haven’t experienced years of emotional manipulation to accompany abuse.

What really struck me the most about this book was the growth that I saw in Mae over the course of it. She started out firmly convinced that while her father was a monsterand her mother was innocent. A terrible mother, but surely not an accessory to her husband’s crimes. I understood her stance. She couldn’t deny that her father was involved, the bodies were under the concrete that he laid, but she couldn’t lose both her parents too. So she decided that her mother was innocent. And my heart broke for her. I found myself having a mental conversation with her on more than one occasion in this book. Desperately trying to tell this confused young woman that there is light at the end of this long dark tunnel, she just needs to break away from the darkness of her mother.

Slowly, she did just that. My heart rejoiced for her and the feeling of the narrative changed to accompany her new discoveries too. What started as a depressing and heavy book was slowly transformed into a survival story that ends with a woman who has made a happy, thriving life for herself. Even though the entire deck was stacked against her.

This was a fantastic perspective on this case that I was very happy to read.