In the Yellow Wallpaper by Joanna Martine de Laurentiis is an incredible children's book about yellow wallpaper. It has a strange way of inviting children to read to it. The author devotes several journal entries on the subject to explaining the yellow wallpaper in the house, its nauseating scent, its “off” smell, the “vague and Interminable pattern of toadstool, sprouting and vanishing in endless convulsions”, its misshapen “limpening sticks” (pardon the pun), and how it leaves yellow smears all over the house and especially on children. While some of these accounts might be exaggerated, many if not most are true.
The first published in French in 1960, In the Yellow Wallpaper was just one of several short stories about postpartum depression. It tells the story of a young woman called Marie, who has just given birth. She is so overjoyed at her good news that she doesn't worry about what her new baby will do to her old house. It's only when the mother of the child dies in the following weeks that Marie realises the dreadful fact that her house had wallpaper with yellow in it.
Marie's house was always painted yellow; there were no further signs of paint, and she kept it that way for the next seven months, while her husband died. When her daughter ran away from home, she found her possessions strewn all over the house. The guilt of this apparently unspeakable event drives Marie to look for her lost belongings, which she realises were stuffed into a box marked “rest cure”. This leads the narrator to discover that the “rest cure” is simply a rest cure: as in, a mixture of opium and milk which can induce sleep.
The subsequent paragraphs describe the events which follow. Marie wakes up in a mental institution, where doctors attempt to drug her into unconsciousness. This doesn't work, but when she recovers from this and is taken home, the doctors realise she has an involuntary movement disorder and prescribe her some muscle relaxants to calm down her nerves. At first this seems to work, but soon after this her movements stop, as does her appetite. Desperation eats her out of house and home, until she realises that the doctor has been looking in the yellow wallpaper, and decides to go there herself.
Unfortunately, she's too weak to move much, so she lets her daughter move in with her. A week later, while the girl is at work, her husband passes away. Although she knows her daughter has been seeing her husband, she doesn't want to tell her daughter anything, or tell her daughter's boyfriend either.
This leads to the next episode, in which Marie and her daughter discover the Yellow Wallpaper. Apparently, the two girls were previously sharing it, and before their parents discovered it, they were sharing it. She goes back to the house to get more, which she puts in the fridge, but later on her daughter finds it and takes it to school. When her husband returns, he discovers that she has put the Yellow Wallpaper in the fridge and takes it from there.
It soon becomes obvious that the girls have been seeing each other via the yellow wallpaper, and their friendship is strengthened even further. Things get even more serious when they discover the Yellow Wallpaper was put there by her daughter's boyfriend, who wants to know what all the fuss is about. It also leads to the discovery that the girls are in love with each other, and so they end up getting married. However, things don't go exactly to plan, and their marriage is ruined when her husband falls for another woman.
The third book in the series tells the tale of the Yellow Wallpaper's discovery, and what happens to her when her son dies. The fourth book in the series features Rosemary and Dot together. They are thrown into a scrap metal recycling center (the same one that dumped the Yellow Wallpaper into the fridge) and are found to be missing. They manage to escape and eventually reunite, having learned that the only way to escape the scrap metal center is by using the Yellow Wallpaper… Things get bad for the Yellow Wallpaper when her husband tries to kill her husband, forcing her to use the paper to write him a love letter.