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Dolores Claiborne Paperback – 28 Oct 1993

4.3 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Paperback, 28 Oct 1993
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; New edition edition (28 Oct. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0450588866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0450588860
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 17.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,309,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

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


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)

... 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)

An incredibly gifted writer, whose writing, like Truman Capote's, is so fluid that you often forget that you're reading (Guardian)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 2 Oct. 1999
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition
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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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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