Dolores Claiborne Paperback – 28 Oct 1993
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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 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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good read, a bit of a different direction from Kings normal material but nonetheless highly enjoyable... Need to see the film now...Published 18 days ago by Amazon Customer
This is a gripping story but it is also more than that. It is told by Dolores Claiborne herself in a statement to the local police who suspect her of murder. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Neasa MacErlean
Dolores didn't kill Vera Donovan but she did kill her husband Joe St George.
Dolores Claiborne is my favourite of Stephen King novels, although the subject matter is sad... Read more
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... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Marbles1969
A brilliant book. One of the best I have read in a long time. An interesting plot, believable characters, humour and pathos. I couldn't put it down. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Ruth Butler