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on 13 October 2012
It's Stephen King again! Or is it? When Dolores Claiborne was first published, {and a few years later, when another King novel, ROSE MADDER appeared} speculation was rife that in fact the book had not been scribed by the author of THE STAND and IT, but actually by Tabitha King, his author wife. Hmmm. Let's see...

DOLORES CLAIBORNE is the story of the eponymous woman from Little Tall Island, Maine, and is told [almost] entirely in the first person, by Dolores herself. She is telling the story of her life to the police chief after the mysterious death of her elderly and eccentric employer, Vera Donovan; a death where foul play is involved and Dolores is the chief suspect. Talk on the island has been rife about Delores; several years ago her husband also died in mysterious circumstances, and there have been malicious rumours and whispers about her ever since. But now is the time for Dolores to tell her story; of her married life with her alcoholic abusive husband, and how he began to sexually molest their young daughter, and of what happened on the night he died. Delores' tale is also the story of her employer, Vera Donovan, and Dolores' back-breaking filthy and degrading years working for this stark, wanton and perhaps a little crazy old woman, and also of the events leading up to her death. Throughout the novel, also, Delores often goes off track a little, and her little diversions and asides are equally as entertaining as the main plot.

I think that the main reason that critics and commentators were quick to suggest that King's wife had written DELORES CLAIBORNE are quite clear; the voice of Delores, a mildly elderly woman, is clear and vibrant and very individual, and her thoughts and feelings captured very well. The theme of the novel is very feminist and deals with touchy issues like murder and child abuse. Clearly, the critics opined, someone like Stephen King, writer of cheap horror stories about demon dogs and killer cars could never have written this highly literate and very feminine story. Naah, it must have been his wife, and they tagged Stephen's name on it so it would fly off the shelves. Or perhaps, and more realistically, these critics had never actually read much of King's back catalogue, and hadn't realised that despite his choice of horror subjects, he is a very adept and stylistic writer, capable of works [previous to DELORES] like CUJO, DIFFERENT SEASONS and "The Reach". You might have thought critics would enjoy this novel more too, because as well as being highly readable, tense and exciting, and being full of Kings acclaimed style and substance, DELORES CLAIBORNE contains nothing of traditional horror, but much of the horror that man makes; here, also, is only the tiniest smidgeon of the supernatural, a vision of shared crisis at the height of an eclipse.

In conclusion, this compact not-overlong novel is an entertaining, sometimes hard-hitting read, and in Delores Claiborne, King has created another very real flesh-and-blood character. The book is perhaps not a favourite of lifelong King fans who might prefer the monsters and splatter, but for fans of good writing it is a winner. I believe that in fifty or a hundred years time, DOLORES CLAIBORNE will be still being read, and will be seen as a classic regional novel, written by "that pulpy horror" writer Stephen King, and not his wife.
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on 2 October 1999
As a King fan of too many years, I have no qualms in saying this is my favourite King book so far. It feels like a long, short-story if you get me. It has more of the feeling of the excellent 'The Body' than of 'The Stand' where the main tale is all, and there are no sub-plots.
It is told in an unusual way that is at first hard to get into. But once you have, you can really feel the character of Delores as the story develops. Her pain and suffering are your pain and suffering. You want her to come out of this well. And does she? Well, read it. You won't be disappointed.
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on 9 April 2014
This is Stephen King but maybe not as we know him and as we imagine his books to me. He makes a little detour into the psychological genre here (but there is still of course a small supernatural element).

The story is told by Dolores, the main protagonist. Unusually so, there are no chapters or breaks, but the whole books reads like a monologue by Dolores. Dolores was a housekeeper for an elderly wealthy woman, Vera Donovan. She starts the story off by being interviewed by police and telling us that she did not murder Vera Donovan, even though her death seems to be somewhat similar to the death of Dolores' husband 30 years ago, both dying after a fall. Dolores says she did not kill Vera, however, she did murder her husband Joe 30 years ago. What follows this confession is the story of her life and how she came to murder Joe… An alcoholic, Joe beat up Dolores regularly and a tyrant. When Dolores fears that he abuses their young daughter, she can't take no more.

Dolores is a simple but energetic and witty woman, and that's how the writing is. It is indeed quite different from the usual King stories, however, any fan will recognise his unique writing style. Apart from Dolores, Joe and Vera there are not a lot of characters in this book, again something King does very well (Gerald's Game has only 2 characters I think throughout the whole book - maybe a few minor ones mentioned).This is a hard-hitting story of abuse, courage but also of wonderful friendship which Dolores found.

The unique style of this book (monologue) does get some getting used to, but you will be rewarded with a beautiful story.
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on 28 October 2013
It is a testament to King's phenomenal output that other works of his have overshadowed this particular novel. I was drawn to it primarily as it is not only written in the first person but Dolores tells her story entirely in her own dialogue as she's being interviewed by two police officers. I might just be able to tell a story in one character's dialogue for the duration of a short story, but to do this over an entire novel where you have to rachet up the tension and suspense, believe me, takes some doing.

Dolores, who is in her sixties, is taken in for questioning over the suspicious death of her employer, Vera Donovan. Although Dolores and Vera had their differences, Dolores is adamant that she didn't kill Vera. Dolores does have a confession to make but it's not about Vera, it's about Joe, her husband, who died back in 1963.
As well as admiring the way this tale is told, I found the voice of Dolores particularly effective. Housekeeper would be too grand a title for what Dolores does for Mrs Donovan - she's more like a cleaner and general dogsbody and although I know next to nothing about how such a person from an island off Maine might speak, I'm convinced by Dolores's speech patterns and dialogue. Here is Dolores explaining what it's like to be poor: 'With Joe out of the pitcher and no money coming in, I was in a fix, I can tell you - I got an idear there's no one in the whole world feels as desperate as a woman on her own with kids dependin on her.'

King tells it like it is for the struggling and the down-trodden and in this era of celebrity-obsessed culture, Dolores Claiborne is a masterclass in how to write meaningful and compelling characters.
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on 23 February 1999
A few more stars are needed to rate this book, five are not enough. This book is one of the most compelling I have read. If you think all King can give you is gruesom and out of this world think again and give it a try. It is a very touching story that dances between abuse, molestation, betrayal, FRIENDSHIP and LOVE. Shows the extremes a mother can go for her children even if they do not know it, it is LOVE what she is giving without expecting anything as reward. Also, it give us the true value of friendship even when it is between to strange humans as are Dolores and Vera. It takes humans to extremes that we all could get too before we realize it. When you think you have figure it all, surprise you have not. It keeps you thinking and wondering for a while after you are done reading. Trully a master piece.
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on 22 October 2012
To all naysayers that accuse Stephen King of being a commercial-blockbuster machine, this novel is another proof that this artist is instead a great writer. Written as a long monologue, Dolores Claiborne covers the testimony the titular character gives to Sherrif Andy Bissette of Little Tall Island. Over nine hours - if you listen to the audiobook version - she tries to prove her innocence in Vera's recent death, but admits to the 1963 murder of her late husband, Joe St-George, which the Little Tall Island community accused her for years, but never had the proofs to send her to jail. So to put claims to rest, she narrates her relation with Vera Donovan, her husband, her children and the events that brought the death of her husband and Vera.

Apart from a connection Dolores feels from a little girl involved in Gerald's Game, and a newsarticle mentioning the town Derry, involved in the novel IT, this book is not a paranormal story, but a realistic story of a woman fighting a dangerous patriarchal force living in her house.
And unlike conventional novels, this experimental story is in two chapters, the first one is Dolores' testimony, and the last one is the epilogue. So for those who read their books in several sessions, a bookmark is obligatory. As for the Kindle users, don't expect the book to be divided in different forms of chapters, so remember this if you buy an e-book copy of Dolores Claiborne. About the electronic version, I did found a few little typographical mistakes, but they were insignificant details that did not stop me from enjoying this novel, which I heard is going to be soon shown into an opera in 2013.

As such, Dolores Claiborne is an excellent Stephen King novel for its fans and an excellent entry to newcomers.
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on 4 February 2012
Though I am not Stephen King's greatest fan I have read several of his novels though I tend to shy away from the horror end of things. Dolores Claiborne was recommended by my friend, and I had no real idea what it was about.

The book is written in monologue form, its protagonist Dolores, is being interviewed by the police regarding the death of her employer, and the words are entirely "her own". There is no descriptive prose and it features no dialogue from the three people in the room with her. Dolores is the storyteller, they, are her audience.

The narrative voice succeeds well, an elderly housekeeper who though not particularly educated is wily, bitchy, and has a don't-give-a-**** attitude. The kind of cantankerous old biddy you wouldn't want to cross. It sounds authentic and effortless, as though King has a good ear for picking up the rhythm of the older woman who likes to tell a good story.

The story itself is pretty simple, told in the present and the past Dolores talks of the difficulties of working for a demanding, nasty boss, and of how the two came to be kindred spirits in more ways than one. The story flicks between the two, when Dolores first began working for Vera as a pregnant young wife, and her days as her carer and companion at the end of her life. It is really two stories as well..the story of how demanding it is to be a carer and the story of how suffocating a bad marriage to a bad husband can be. Despite this, the story holds few surprises, the problems in Dolores's marriage are the usual cliches and Vera's early characterisation as the wealthy domineering boss is cliched too.
What is quite heartwarming is the way in which these two women become the glue that holds the other together, and the way in which they keep each others secrets.

It's a short book, and an easy read. I enjoyed it, but I don't think it's a extraordinary book. I'm glad I read it, it has a potboiler quality that sort of drags you in. It's a page turner, but it doesn't make waves with any originality, except for perhaps in the very well executed use of the monologue form.

Can't decide between a 6/7 out of 10
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on 29 March 2016
With the recent news that Stephen King's own unabridged audiobook recording of DESPERATION is soon to be released at last I was browsing some reviews of the book and came across many comments about it being a bad book. Various reviewers associated it with DOLORES CLAIBORNE and I was really surprised to see how they considered this to be one of his worst books. I am a lazy reader, so enjoy the unabridged Stephen King audio catalogue, which I can listen to during my many hours of driving. DOLORES CLAIBORNE is undoubtedly one of my favourites: I bought the Frances Sternhagen recording on cassette when it was first released and updated this to CD when it became available. I did read the book myself when it was first published and perhaps I can understand why many readers did not immediately "click" with it, its first-person narrative style not being the easiest to read. However, to hear the piece performed by an amazing actress brings the text to life in a way that my own mind couldn't on first reading. For those King fans who have never given this book a second chance I strongly urge you to try this recording, which brings the character and story fully to life.
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on 17 November 2015
Written in the first-person perspective, the narrative is framed around an interview given to the police by a 65-year-old woman by the name of Dolores Claiborne, who has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of a rich old lady called Vera Donovan, who she worked for as a housekeeper. Vera bequeathed Dolores a tidy sum of some 30 million dollars upon her death, which unsurprisingly made people suspect that she was killed for her money. Dolores has form for it after all, having bumped off her abusive husband Joe three decades earlier.

The lack of chapters didn't really bother me as it's such a short book, in comparison with a few of Stephen King's heftier tomes. I've read over a dozen of King's novels since I started working my way through his back catalogue two years ago, and I've enjoyed almost every one immensely. This really lived up to my high expectations.
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on 29 December 2012
I have to say I am the biggest King fan (and I don't mean that in the creepy 'Misery' sort of way) and I have read almost all of his books, except this one which I recently finished. This book is not the usual Stephen King story of horror but is actually more of a mystery kind of story. And what a story it is. From the first few pages I was totally hooked on the book and found it quite difficult to tear myself away.

The story is told by Dolores St. George (formerly Clairborne) and it starts from the present but goes back into the past to tell the tale of how Dolores got into the situation that she is in currently. The story is gripping and the length of the book seems just right to tell it in.

I think this is one of the best King novels I have ever read and would definitely recommend it!
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