Rose Madder The setting of Rose Madder begins in a city called Port side but it does not say which state. Rose then rides a bus 800 miles to some large mid-western city. By some of the details in the story and the dialect, a good guess of the time era is any where from the 1980 s to the late 1990 s. The characters in Rose Madder are Rose McClendon Daniels a women who was married and abused by her husband for nearly 14 years and Norman Daniels a crazy cop who is in pursuit of his wife Rosie. Bill Steiner is the guy that Rosie buys the picture from and they also fall in love, Anna Stevenson is the owner of the Daughters and Sisters organization that helps women coming out of abusive relationships. Peter Slowik is Anna Stevenson's ex-husband who tells Rosie to go to the Daughters and Sisters place and he is later killed by Norman.
Rose Madder is the woman in the picture that Rosie bought, and Mr. Lefferts is a man who gives Rosie a job reading books for a "Books on Tape Company." First, Rose Daniels is sitting at home reading a romance novel, when all of a sudden her husband, Norman, walks in and starts beating her. Rose was pregnant at the time and, as a consequence of Normans beating, she has a miscarriage. After that she goes to bed, but when she wakes up in the morning and there was a single drop of blood on her pillow. That one single drop made her realize how abusive her life would be if she did not leave Norman. So she planned how she was going to leave without Norman catching her.
She took the credit card he had left on the counter and then she ran out the door. Eventually she came to the bus station. She traveled on a bus 800 miles away from her home. When she arrived there was a traveler's aid with a friendly looking man standing there. The man's name was Peter Slowik and he worked to help women who have been abused in some way. She told him her story and he told her to go to the Daughters and Sisters house, which was a place for women who have just gotten out of an abusive relationship to say at for awhile.
So she leaves and goes to the house and they let her in and she meets the owner, Anna Stevenson. Anna is very nice and offers her to stay awhile. Then Anna gets her a job at this hotel cleaning sheets. Rose was walking back from the grocery store when she decided to trade in her ring. Norman had told her he paid a lot for that ring so she figured she could get a bunch of money for it.
She finds out that the diamond is fake and she doesn't get very much money. She is getting ready to leave when she sees a picture. She doesn't know how to explain it, but it was calling to her. She traded the ring in for the picture and she walks out of the store. As she is walking she is stopped by a man named Mr. Lefferts.
He asks her to read a passage from a book. She read it and he liked her voice and asked her to read another one. She was puzzled but read it anyway. He liked it and told her that he was in charge of a book on tape studio and wanted her to work for him. Of course she accepted, and then she went to Daughters and Sisters to tell everyone. After she told everyone Anna told her that she thought Rose was ready to move out into her own apartment.
Meanwhile, Norman had obviously noticed Rosie was gone and was slowly tracing her to find out where she was. He had found out that after she used the credit card she took, she threw it away. Norman found a guy who took it out of the trash and interrogated him. He found that she threw it away at the bus station, so he went there in hopes of any one there remembering Rosie. No one really remembered her but there was a man who was working there the day she bought a ticket. Norman asked the man if he remembered Rosie and described her briefly, but the man did not remember.
However, the man did tell Norman the bus schedule for that day. Norman decided that in order to find Rosie, he has to think like her. He picks the bus that she was on and traveled to the same city she was at. That's when the chase began. Rosie ran into Bill Steiner, the man who sold her the picture, again and he asked her out on a date. She accepted and they set everything up.
She just got her apartment and the first thing she did was hang her picture up. A few days later she was getting ready for her date. At the beginning of the date, Rosie felt nervous. She felt like Norman was there and would pop up at any minute. Once she got over that, she had a great time with Bill. They talked and laughed and Rosie told him about the abusive relationship she was in.
At the end of the night he walked her back home and asked her on another date. However this was the same day of this Daughters and Sisters picnic. They worked it out so that Rosie and Bill would have their own picnic, and then they would come back in time to see a band perform at the Daughters and Sisters picnic. Meanwhile, Norman arrived at the train station and was looking for someone who would remember Rosie. He noticed the traveler's aid station and followed Peter Slowik home. He then broke into his house and asked him about Rosie.
At first Peter would not tell then after Norman attacked him, he told him that he sent her to the Daughters and Sisters house. He then killed Peter and went to a motel close by. Back in Rosie's neck of the woods, one night she heard crickets, but her window was shut. The next afternoon after work, she heard them again. She then saw one jump up and the she crawled on the floor and saw several of them on the ground, dead. Then she looked at the picture and noticed that there were shadows of something in the corner that were never there before.
It was like the picture was expanding. Rosie took the picture off the wall and then she flipped it over. She tore off the paper lining over the back of the picture and looked underneath. There were some dead leaves and a few more dead grasshoppers, and then there were several small purple flowers.
These all came from inside of the picture. She hung it back up and as she was looking at it, she touched it, and then she walked into the picture. There was a woman in a dress that was a reddish purplish color called Rose Madder. She was about to go over to her when a woman came up to her and told her that the woman in the rose madder dress had gone crazy and "hasn't been herself" lately.
The woman looked like a past murder victim of Norman named Wendy Yarrow. Rose went over to Rose Madder and realized that her skin was all decayed. The woman who looked like Wendy Yarrow told Rosie not to look at Rose Madder's face or Rosie would go insane. Rose Madder asked Rosie to go down into the "Temple of the Bull" and get Rose Madder's baby. Rosie agreed and entered the tomb. She had to go through many obstacles such as a tree with poison seeds and if you touch the seeds you can't put your fingers in your mouth or you will die.
Another obstacle was water that if you drank it you would forget everything. She finally got to a maze and in the center of the maze was the baby. However there was also the bull down there as well. She waited until the bull was gone and ran and snatched the baby, but the bull saw her. The bull started chasing her but finally she made her way out of the maze. Then she headed out of the Temple of the Bull.
She returned Rose Madder's baby and in return Rose Madder gave her a gold armlet. Rose went back to her room and went to bed. The next morning she couldn't remember anything but she kept hearing Rose Madder's voice in her head. She had to get ready because tonight was her big date with Bill.
However, Norman had been walking through the street when he saw a fly er for the Daughters and Sisters picnic. He knew that Rosie was going to be there, so he too needed to get ready. Bill arrived and took her to a place about an hour away. It was a park, but barely anyone went there. They had a nice little picnic and then Bill took her up to this hill and these foxes lived there. It was nice watching the foxes but they couldn't stay long because they had to go to the picnic.
Norman, on the other hand, was already at the picnic. He had disguised himself as a handicap man. He had even shaved his head just so no one would notice him. He noticed a girl he saw one day while walking past Daughters and Sisters. He figured she would have some answers, so he waited until she was heading for the bathroom, and then he attacked.
However a fellow Daughters and Sisters member saw what was happening and came to the rescue. Both of the women got pretty beat up, but they both survived. Norman escaped, unfortunately, and decided to go to the Daughters and Sisters house to try and find some information about Rosie and where she's staying. Bill and Rosie arrived at the Daughters and Sisters picnic only to find ambulances.
People run up to her and tell her what happened. The whole time she knew who it was, Norman. She was so scared and they went to the hospital to visit Christina and Gertrude, the two women who were attacked by Norman. Meanwhile, Norman had found a bull mask and kept it and went to Daughters and Sisters. He broke in but no one was home. He went into the main office and was looking through the files when all of a sudden Anna Stevenson comes through the door.
He puts on the mask and attacks her. He asked her where Rosie was, but she wouldn't tell. He then killed her and then he looked on the desk and found some files, then he found Rosie's address. He headed over to her house.
Rosie and Bill were walking up the stairs to Rosie's apartment when all of a sudden Norman is there at the bottom.