Top critical review
Honest book but from King I expected more and better on this topic
on 5 September 2007
This is a very readable book by my favourite author and I do not regret that I bought it. But stil, this is one the (very few) Stephen King's books which I enjoyed less than I expected.
First, let's begin with the strong points. The opening scene is excellent, one of the best and most shocking King ever wrote. The main character is very likeable and her miserable and full of pain life is described in a great way - you simply have to feel for her. The scenes in which she is finally breaking away from her hell are a great moment - in fact seldom did I enjoy reading something so much as those chapters. Although this is a dark and violent book (this is Stephen King after all) the message is finally optimistic and the ending is soothing (if not totally happy). The supernatural elements of the book are very good and I found the chapter about the maze very beautiful and poetic. So, by all means, read this book. It is worth it.
There are however weaker points which I believe harmed this book, which could be a masterpiece, instead of just a honest read. The main character has it way too easy when being on the run. Sad to say, but most of women who escape battering husbands have to struggle much more before rebuilding their life. I believe that more realism here would improve the book - because some elements in the second part seem taken straight from Harlequin books...
But where the book strays the most is I believe in the description of the abusive husband, Norman. In the beginning he is described very well - a selfish, frustrated, violent, even sadistic man who considers his wife as his propriety, as lifestock instead of life companion. Then, in the second part of the book, we finally realise that this man is in fact totally insane, on a level justifying a lifetime commitment to high security psychiatric facility. And this is I believe a mistake, because if he is THAT sick (and he IS that sick - just read the book to the end), he is not responsible for his acts. He shouldn't be killed, but committed and separated from the society forever, because he is NOT a monster, just a very sick man.
Keeping Norman sane until the end would be a better choice - because then he would be a monster desserving punishment and not just a raving lunatic, driven by his condition. Also, that would stick more to the reality - as sad as it may seem, battering husbands mostly are just bad people who belong in jail and not lunatics who belong in asylum. I am very astonished that Stephen King, who is a very feminist writer (just read "Gerald's Game" and "Dolores Clairborne") decided to weaken the message on this particular topic in such a way.
All in all, a honest book, but which could be much, much better...