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More of a mystery than a horror novel,Dolores Claiborne contains only the briefest glances at the supernatural.The novel presents Stephen King as a writer experimenting with style and narrative, time and perspective. Fans looking for a skin-crawling, page-turning fright or an undead bloodbath will be disappointed, but a patient reader willing to savor King's leisurely study of character and island life will find many rewards. And all of this is not to say that the book is without suspense.
The story unfolds in one continuous chapter, told in the first person by the cranky, 65-year-old housekeeper, Dolores, who is explaining to police officers and a stenographer how and why she killed her husband, Joe, 30 years ago. At the same time, in her rambling monologue, she insists that she didnot kill her longtime employer, Vera Donovan--notwithstanding what the residents of Little Tall Island may be whispering. Joe was a drinker, and, as Dolores gradually argues, he deserved to die for the horrifying crimes he committed against his family. But Vera, despite her cantankerous disposition as a lady governing her decaying estate with her precise rules about even the most mundane household chore ("Six pins! Remember to use six pins! Don't you let the wind blow my good sheets down to the corner of the yard!"), was a good woman--or at least not an evil one. She was the woman who hired the young Dolores and kept her on even after Dolores got pregnant again. Dolores cleaned and cared for her even as the old matron faded into senility.
Dolores Claiborne is a rich novel that recalls the regionalist writing of the turn of the century. It is a fine place for a skeptical newcomer--put off by King's reputation for outright terror--to start. And for fans, it is a book that offers new insights into an author who's an old favorite.--Patrick O'Kelley
A King book That's Just About a Person. Awesome! When I started reading this book, I was bracing myself for a bad experience--I'd just finished Heart of Darkness by Conrad, which is three big chapters and boring as all get out... And this book is one big chapter. I was also wondering what the "supernatural" plot of this book was--Most other Stephen King books I'd heard the basic gist before I'd begun reading, and this one offered me no clue.
I was pleasantly surprised to find, however, that this plot only had a hint of the supernatural, and that it was basically a picture a small-town poor woman grafted onto the character of a tiny Maine island. Normally "mundane" fiction bores me to tears, but this was one of the best books I've ever read. It had the superb characterization of any Stephen King novel--better, in fact, than most of the others--but without the bone-chilling plots that simultaneously sucked me in and repulsed me. I found myself reading the novel, thinking, "This sounds like Mom," and "This sounds like Grandma." I sincerely felt like I knew Dolores.
That isn't to say that it's without supernatural elements. The supernatural bears very little relevance at all, but it helps build the mood of the novel and the tension of the climax. Instead of the setting and the characters being centered around a supernatural plot and hook that relates (and indeed, is a metaphor for) some aspect of human nature, it's merely a portrait of a fictitious but nonetheless realistic person, with the supernatural and mundane plot elements centered around a lifelike character and setting.
One thing worth note, though, is that this is very light reading for a King novel--I finished less than twelve hours after I started. The brevity of it aside, this is a great book, and it really gives you a picture of what it's like in any small rural hamlet... with just a glimpse of something darker that will satiate any King fan's need to escape the mundane.
Dolores Claiborne A truely compelling novel about the story of a women who lived a life of both mental and physical abuse and comes out on top. This is the classic story of domestic violence involving the sickness of alcoholism. King manages to describe this sickness so well that the reader feels as though they are there in Dolores' mind. This women struggles to fit the steriotype of a "good wife" and is constantly being abused for it. The detail in the emotional highs and lows of this novel make the reader feel as though they are walking that fine line between sanity and insanity. Honesty I have never read a book that has this much drama and is still realistic. I recommend this read to anyone who is looking for a good lesson on relationships because King offers plenty in this story of a powerful woman defeating those who wish to push her down. Definatly 5 stars.a battered wife's revenge This is a great book, and the film is just as good, in a different way. This is one wife's struggle with domestic abuse at the hands of a drunken, insulting, violent husband. It leads to this desperate woman's disturbing scheme of retribution and murder. Powerfully chilling. In the book, Stephen King tells Delores' story from her own point-of-view, her own regional Maine dialect, her own voice. This gives the story an added realism that is most effective.