Rose Madder by Stephen King

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Rose Daniels saw the single drop of blood on the bed sheet and knew she must escape from her macabre marriage before it was too late.

But escape was not as easy as fleeing to a new city, picking a new name, finding a new job, lucking out with a new man. Her husband, Norman, was a cop, with a cop's training, a cop's technology, a cop's bloodhound instincts. And even worse, Norman was - well, Norman. Rose knew she had been married to a savage brute. Now she realized she was being tracked down by a terrifying monster - but the only place she found to hide could be the most dangerous of all...

“The concept of dreaming is known to the waking mind but to the dreamer there is no waking, no real world, no sanity; there is only the screaming bedlam of sleep.”

Stephen King can be downright weird with surprises he leaves for the reader. For the bulk of the book, it's an interesting story of an abused woman escaping her sadistic and tormenting husband. The main character is a sympathetic lead who doesn't indulge in melodrama or denial, but comes across realistically written when she escapes into a town and group that accepts her for who she is and not what she's escaping. The side characters were as well-written, including the lead of the women's group who, while being noble, isn't black and white noble.

Rose Madder was a tough book to put down and I didn't get the griping I'd heard about it....until, well until it just gets weird. The painting and other world stuff threw me. I had a discussion with a friend about this and we both felt the story didn't need any of it. He could have just written a thriller with a man chasing his escaped wife and it would have been great; when he introduces the fantasy stuff that was hard to comprehend, the story loses focus and even warrants a little skimming.

Unlike some of King's other tomes, the length and pacing are suitable to the story content. The ending has a weird and bitter twist which fit well, even again that I didn't full get it. The author doesn't shy away from actual vicious abuse, giving his main villain a biting tendency. I would have liked to see more of the details of the shelter, but I liked the women who worked together and had friendships. It was convincing and thoughtful.

   Book Quotes:

“It's best to be ruthless with the past.”

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