All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Recovery Of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

on September 7, 2020

The Recovery Of Rose Gold
Stephanie Wrobel
Penguin UK
2020, 400p
Read via my local library/Borrow Box

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Rose Gold Watts believed she was sick for eighteen years.

She thought she needed the feeding tube, the surgeries, the wheelchair . . .

Turns out her mum, Patty, 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 her daughter – 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.

But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty won’t rest until she has her daughter back under her thumb. Which is inconvenient because Rose Gold wants to be free of Patty. Forever.

Only one Watts will get what she wants.

Will it be Patty or Rose Gold?

Mother, or daughter?

This was a trip.

Rose Gold is in her early 20s and her mother is being released from prison after serving five years for aggravated child abuse. For most of Rose Gold’s childhood, she was ‘sick’ – constantly vomiting, her hair falling out, so ill and frail that she often needed a wheelchair to get around. It was endless trips to hospitals and doctors, explaining her symptoms, a barrage of tests but never anything in the form of answers. Always there was her mother, the only real presence in Rose Gold’s life, who home schooled her, who took care of her, who devoted herself to her…until an innocent comment made Rose Gold wonder if it was really such devoted care after all.

Munchausen syndrome by Proxy, aka Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (FDIA) basically means that a caregiver incites, creates or claims illness in a child in their care, in order to receive attention that having such a sick child brings. There are a few risk factors, such as a stressful or complicated pregnancy and a mother who experienced child abuse. The reality of a diagnosis is that the only way to prove it is to remove the child from the person’s care and see if they improve. According to Wikipedia, in more than 95% of cases of this, the offender is the person’s mother.

With her mother in jail for five years, Rose Gold has had that time to put her life back together again, to see if she can live a normal life now that the oppressive presence of her mother has been removed. She has a job, an apartment and seems to be going through the motions of life – her mother’s friend supports her and is always there to offer a friendly ear. But Rose Gold has not been able to make friends, she doesn’t have a boyfriend and dig a little deeper beneath the surface of her life and it’s clear to see that she’s having trouble adjusting to her new ‘normal’ life.

For her whole childhood, Rose Gold believed that she was desperately sick – well, she was desperately sick, most likely due to high doses of an expectorant in her food. It caused quite severe damage to her body from the constant cycles of vomiting – her teeth are decayed and rotten in her mouth. She had severe malnutrition. She was incredibly weak – her hair would fall out in big clumps so her mother would keep it shaved so that losing her hair didn’t distress her. She often needed a wheelchair because she didn’t have the strength to get around on her own two feet. When she was teased at school for her sickly appearance, her mother pulled her out of school and homeschooled her. But even worse than the damage to Rose Gold’s physical condition might be the damage done to her psyche.

When Patty gets out of jail, she goes to stay with Rose Gold and immediately you’re like no, how can this be, she’s going to manipulate and hurt her again. Patty is a piece of work – she has a backstory that does involve horrific abuse but even with that, Patty is not a character one can feel sympathy for. She is unapologetic about her treatment of Rose Gold, incredibly angry about being in jail and determined that Rose Gold will pay for testifying against her. Even as she’s pretending to rebuild her relationships with her daughter, pretending that things will be different now, she’s constantly looking for ways in which she can punish, abuse, manipulate and gaslight Rose Gold in retaliation. The thing is, soon Patty starts to question Rose Gold’s motives for inviting Patty to live with her…..whereas she thought that Rose Gold was appropriately sorry for testifying and was ready to be the good, obedient little daughter again, there are things that make her wonder and that makes her utterly incensed. If Rose Gold is trying to get revenge on Patty for her childhood, then she’s going to pay and Patty is confident she’ll break Rose Gold down just as she has before.

That’s not to say Rose Gold is, to be honest, a likeable character either, in many ways. She has a lot of problems with things like appropriate boundaries and she’s definitely capable of a lot of manipulation and dangerous actions herself. But you know what? I wanted Rose Gold to succeed in punishing Patty. Even though Patty had obviously had a very awful childhood, what she inflicted on Rose Gold and her lack of remorse for it, made me want Rose Gold to win over her. No matter what, to be honest. That wasn’t to say I liked Rose Gold – I felt like she needed years and years of therapy and she had a vindictive streak that was incredibly concerning but there is surely an impossibility to underestimate the sort of mental damage that had been done on her by her upbringing. But I felt for her – I wanted her to triumph over her mother and over this situation as well and even though it’s a bit sick….perhaps for her, proving to Patty that she had no influence over her anymore, would be the best way.


Book #174 of 2020


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