Rose Gold Watts believed she was sick for eighteen years.
She thought she needed the feeding tube, the surgeries, the wheelchair . . .
Turns out her mother is a really good liar.
After five years in prison, Patty Watts is finally free. All she wants is to put old grievances behind her, reconcile with the daughter who testified against her – and care for her new infant grandson.
When Rose Gold agrees to have Patty move in, it seems their relationship is truly on the mend. And she has waited such a long time for her mother to come home.
But is she still the pliable young girl she once was? And is Patty still as keen on settling an old score?
Because if mothers never forget then daughters never forgive.
It’s been five years since Patricia ‘Patty’ Watts was prosecuted for aggravated child abuse when she was found guilty of starving and poisoning her daughter, Rose Gold. As Patty is released from prison, all she wants is to rebuild her relationship with her now-adult daughter and clear her name. But reality doesn’t always work with our best laid plans. Rose Gold is too busy working and doting on her infant son, Adam, to give much attention to Patty. And the more the townsfolk make it clear they aren’t willing to forgive and forget what Patty did – despite Patty claiming she’s innocent – the more Patty begins to suspect Rose Gold is out to get her.
The Recovery of Rose Gold is a sharp debut about the abuse of trust between mother and daughter.
I initially tried to avoid writing a spoiler review, but my review does contain spoilers, for the purpose of explaining what didn’t work for me (mainly the ending of the book)
First and foremost, The Recovery of Rose Gold is one of the easiest and quickest books I have picked up in a while. It can be read in one sitting (especially if you’re looking for a book to bump up your monthly numbers). The book alternates between mother and daughter’s perspective, which was engaging and gave the book a decent pace too.
I thought the characters were well written. Patty is a monstrous, horrible protagonist in the way psychological thrillers need. She was truly horrific, which is credit to Wrobel’s writing. This was also the case for Rose Gold. I felt the right amounts of sympathy and disappointment for Rose Gold, and even trepidation as the power of bitterness and how it corrupts ones soul was developed toward the climax.
What this book gets right: an enjoyable and engaging pace, the burning need to know why people behave abhorrently, and most importantly (for me): the unsettling and acidic feeling in the reader’s gut of unease and horror in response to plot events, more specifically, the transition of a victim to a villain.
The Recovery of Rose Gold leaves you wondering: where do we draw the line with a victim when their actions become villainous?
Now, in saying all of the above, I’m sorry to say I felt disappointment when I finished the story. Reading the main body of the book felt like the most delicious red velvet cake was being made with all the right ingredients, but it was then taken out the oven far too early and ruined what could have been perfect. Basically, the climax and ending was a let down. It didn’t deliver something fully satisfying for me.
My issues were [last warnings – spoiler alert]:
1. Where’s the follow up on Rose Gold’s father? What does he think truly happened? Considering what he knows about her??
2. Where’s the follow up with Patty living with the knowledge of what her daughter did? And the repercussions illustrated through her perspective?
3. Why did nobody feel the urge to talk about things? Why did Rose Gold and Patty tip toe around each other without even one fully developed confrontation? Why did Rose Gold’s father not discuss her behaviour with her? Why didn’t Rose Gold confront Alex about being a lousy friend?
[It gets to the point where you feel the lack of conversation wasn’t occurring because the characters weren’t the type to talk, but because it was the most convenient way to justify plot events]
4. For a story essentially about Münchausen syndrome by proxy, where was the discussion of this in the actual story? (not including acknowledgement and thanks)… There was no direct mention / consideration of this in the story. Maybe that isn’t weird to anyone who’s read it and now reading this review, but I personally find it strange and contributory to my disappointment.
I enjoyed the build of the story, the exploration of the characters and the quick pace of the read, and I’d recommend it to people who love stories where your gut plummets like it does on a rollercoaster from psychological horror and emotional manipulation. But I honestly wouldn’t rush to recommend this either, because the ending didn’t do the bulk of the story justice. The opportunity for a worthwhile payoff to a worthwhile story was sorely missed. And regrettably that’s tainted my overall enjoyment of the book, despite the good bits.
But, The Recovery of Rose Gold shows off the great potential of Wrobel, and I will keep an eye out for what she writes next.
The Recovery of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
*published as Darling Rose Gold in the US.
Published February 2020