by Stephen King
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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 did not 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.
On The Flap
By her own account she's an old Yankee bitch, Dolores Claiborne: foul
temper, foul mouth, foul life. Folks on Little Tall Island have been waiting thirty
years to find out just what happened on the eerie dark day her husband, Joe, died -- the
day of the total eclipse. The police want to know what happened yesterday, when
rich, bedridden Vera Donovan, the island's grande dame sans merci and Dolores's
longtime employer, died suddenly in her care.
With no choice but to talk, Dolores Claiborne talks up a storm.
"Everything I did, I did for love," she says, and this spellbinding novel
is at once her confession and her defense. Given a voice as compelling as any in
contemporary fiction, her story centers on a disintegrating marriage's molten core, where
the mind's unblinking eye becomes huge with hate and a woman's heart turns murderous.
It unfolds the strange intimacy between Dolores and Vera, and the link that binds
them. It shows, finally, how fierce love can be, and how dreadful its consequences.
And how the soul, harrowed by the hardest life, can achieve a kind of grace.
But that is for the readers to judge. They will come away with
different verdicts for Dolores, perhaps. But once taken inside the dark room of her
life, lit by the brilliant intensity of Stephen King's storytelling, they will never
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