Munchausen’s Syndrome – where a person seeks to get attention by inducing or feigning an illness in another person (usually a child) – is a fascinating premise for a novel. There is a lot to unpack on both sides, especially once the abuse has been uncovered and brought out into the open. That’s the story behind Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel, a novel about Patty Watts, who for years starved her daughter Rose Gold and claimed she had “chromosomal defects”.
Why I picked it up: I was invited by Berkley/Penguin to participate in a blog tour for Darling Rose Gold, which came out on March 17. I received an advance review copy of the book in exchange for this post.
Patty raised Rose Gold as a single mother, so Rose Gold had little defense against her mother’s poisoning and endless trips to doctors for feeding tubes and tests. She grew up using a wheelchair and being homeschooled to avoid taunting and bullying from classmates. Finally, she caught on to what her mother was doing and accused her of child abuse. Patty stood trial, with Rose Gold testifying, and received a five-year prison sentence. Patty is now free, having done her time, and… is invited by Rose Gold to come live with her and her new baby, Adam. It seems strange that Rose Gold would welcome her mother into her home, an early clue that Rose Gold has an agenda of her own.
Darling Rose Gold is twisty and surprising. Wrobel gives us glimpses into each woman’s motivations, delving into the complex feelings they have about each other. Is there forgiveness on either side? Love? Or are they just out to get each other? Rose Gold seems sympathetic given what she’s been through, but… what kind of a person is she?
If you need some escapist fiction right now that will have you turning pages, Darling Rose Gold fits the bill. There are some holes in the story, but it’s a psychological thriller that has nothing to do with contagion or dystopia or home confinement, so it’s got that going for it (which is nice). This was a fast read for me at a time when my ability to concentrate is severely limited.
Darling Rose Gold was Book #13 of 2020.