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 savour 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 sceptical 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 favourite. --Patrick O'Kelley
--This text refers to an alternate
... the climax of Dolores's confession ... is one of his most accomplished and macabre set-pieces, a homicidal-rhapsody-in-bluechh ... Its message touches a nerve that has been raw since man first walked on two legs. (The Sunday Times
A svelte and compelling masterpiece ... It is not just a powerful book, it is a beautiful book ... Only a novelist of the very first rank could combine comedy and tragedy so judiciously ... It is an exciting change of gear and a very fine book has resulted. (Sunday Telegraph
An incredibly gifted writer, whose writing, like Truman Capote's, is so fluid that you often forget that you're reading. (Guardian
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.