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Bad Books: “The English Roses”

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“The English Roses” by Madonna– yes, *that*
Madonna– is not about “a box of chocolates,” the first page informs us. Nor is it about “a football team.” Or “flowers growing in the garden.” What it is about is this: “the most beautiful
girl anyone had ever seen,” a blonde, caucasian girl named Binah with “long, silky hair and
skin like milk and honey” who is “an excellent student,” “very good at sports,” and “always
kind to people.” Binah is “special.” However, since Binah doesn’t actually show
up until page twelve, you might be fooled into thinking that the book is about the eponymous
English Roses, a multicultural quartet of indistinguishable, underweight, noseless girls,
but their only purpose in life is to seethe with jealousy about Binah. And if you say you’ve “never been green with
envy,” Madonna informs you that “you are telling a big, fat fib” and she is “going to tell
your mother.” “Now, stop interrupting me.” Says Madonna. When the Roses aren’t busy performing dances
from the 1960s and being as British as humanly possible, they sit around and complain about
all the attention Binah gets. It makes them “feel like they are going to
be sick.” That passage was about the only time I identified
with any characters in this book. One fateful night, they have a slumber party
at Girl Number One’s house, and her mother tells them a bedtime lecture. Apparently Mom has been obsessing over Binah
as well, and the moral is, don’t “decide whether you are going to be nice to someone based
on how they look.” And since Binah “looks like she could really
use a friend,” they should get right on that. The four Roses are shocked into silence and
huddle together in Girl Number One’s enormous bed until they fall asleep and share the same
magical dream. A passive-agressive, plump fairy godmother
falls from the sky onto Girl Number Three’s sandwich and tells them to stop whining about
Binah unless they want to trade places with her. She sprinkles fairy dust on them, and off
they fly to Binah’s house to watch her do chores. And chores. And more chores. Her father, outside ostensibly “fixing the
car,” makes her scrub floors, peel potatoes, chop onions, set the table, scale fish, wash
and iron clothes, and empty the trash. “She reminds me of Cinderella,” says Girl
Number Two, just in case it wasn’t obvious that she was copied directly from that fairy
tale by a lazy author. “Where is her mother?” Asks Girl Number One, because all this really should be her job. But, alas, Binah has to do it instead, because
her mom’s dead, and her father works all day, so *he* certainly can’t help. And her bedroom is sparse, with “of course,
one doll,” just to make sure the reader knows Binah is not only pretty, but also acceptably
girly. Only one doll. “Can you believe it?” Asks Madonna. “Well, you’d better, because I’m telling you.” The next morning, the girls wake with cheerful
resolve to fix Binah’s life for her. Because the moral of the story is this: you
shouldn’t be mean to girls with dead mothers, no matter how gorgeous they are. Presumably, everyone else is fair game. This book tells lonely children that others
are just jealous of them, or, worse, that if they only had a dead mom they’d have friends. Add on top of that: the stick-figure, bobblehead
physique of all the characters except the frumpy fairy godmother and Binah’s jerk father
who makes her do all the women’s work, and you have a recipe for a book I’m not reading
to my children. It has all the wrong morals and it’s badly
written. Don’t read this to my kids.

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5 thoughts on “Bad Books: “The English Roses””

  1. Himeru says:

    I actually really love The English Roses books.

  2. kumquatwriter says:

    I loved all the "BRITISH" observations!

  3. EllieLiLi says:

    I LOVE THE ENGLISH ROSES and u are mean

  4. Torino says:

    You are bullshit…the book is great

  5. Damaris Febus says:

    Why u a bullllllllyyy

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