Rose Gold spent her whole life believing that she was danerously ill. Her single mother was her hero, her whole world, as she was too sick to make friends, to go to school…. but at 18, she found out that her life was far from normal, and her mother was a controlling woman who was making her sick to get attention. She managed to get help, and her mother was sent to prison. But now her mother is about to get out and Rose Gold is going to offer her a place to stay. Are they about to fall into their old pattern of victim and abuser, or does one of them have an ulterior motive?
The narrative slips between the point of view of Rose Gold and her mother, Patty, as well as the past through flashback chapters. This works well because the author has a nice way of revealing pieces of the story and little things that thicken the plot, whilst maintaining a nice pace. The book doesn’t slow down, but keeps you interested throughout.
I liked that Patty seemed to really be someone who could masquerade as normal but that thinks her rights to sympathy are justified. This feels like the kind of narcissism that can create this kind of an abuser, and made her a well rounded character. Rose Gold got more interesting as the book progressed, from someone who is a victim of something awful (interesting), to someone who has more than that going on (very intriguing). I feel like someone who has been through what she did would probably not be at all like her, like perhaps the author is giving the children who are victims of Munchhausen by Proxy a bit more edge and complicity in their trauma than they really have, or maybe I don’t know that much about victims.
What will be immediately apparent to you when reading this book, if you’re into True Crime, is that it’s heavily based around the case of Gypsy Rose and her mother DeeDee Blanchard. So many of the circumstances are really similar or the same. It takes it in a different direction and does different things with the people and the outcome. I feel like there were more victims and tragedy in the real case, whereas here, no one is nice, no one is really innocent. I’m not sure how I felt about that, I did feel like it was a little exploitative sometimes, like where are the ethics when we turn a real tragedy into a story? But really, that’s not the place of a book review to explore that, I think. But if you’re interested, perhaps read about the case as well as reading this book. It’s pretty dark.
That said, I think this book was very entertaining. It’s one of those books that you get a kick out of reading and wonder what will happen next, first being afraid for one persons safety, then another, and wondering who will win the contest of wills and craziness that is driving the plot. It felt a little sensational to me, a little heightened, you’d think nothing like this could happen in real life, and people don’t get away with this stuff. And yet… Well, there was Gypsy Rose own case. And others… And it is a very entertaining ride.
Read It If: I think if you find the newspaper stories of Munchausen and other true crime stories fascinating, this is a good book for you. I think fans of thrillers will probably like this too, it’s kind of in the Gone Girl, Girl On The Train tradition. It may not be Howard’s End or whatever, and it may be kind of dramatic, but I was happily along for the ride.
Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for an advance copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own honest ones.
Darling Rose Gold is on sale March 17th.