Title: Dolores Claiborne
Author: Stephen King
Suspected of killing Vera Donovan, her wealthy employer, Dolores Claiborne tells police the story of her life, harkening back to her disintegrating marriage and the suspicious death of her violent husband, Joe St. George, thirty years earlier. Dolores also tells of Vera’s physical and mental decline and of her loyalty to an employer who has become emotionally demanding in recent years.
It took a while for me to get into the groove of this book. Told from a very different first person almost second person perspective, it was as though I was a fly on the wall eavesdropping on a conversation. The whole book is Dolores’ story and she is the narrator. There are parts in the book where she asks for a drink of water, once again reiterating the fact that she is speaking out loud. Once I wrapped my mind around this I sat back and let Dolores speak, and what a tale she was telling.
Although there were elements of horror, I wouldn’t classify this book as a horror. A thriller is as close as I can call it and even then it’s a wishy-washy thriller; perhaps more of a drama than anything else. If there’s one thing that comes out of this novel, it is that Dolores is… well I can’t use that word so let’s go for stubborn-strong-headed-woman-who-says-what-she-thinks-and-doesn’t-care-what-anybody-else-says. Yep that’s Dolores.
The story is told in a strong narrative voice, using slang and spelling words like they are being said. “I c’n read you easier’n an underwear ad…”. It creates a different mood to the whole novel. Makes Dolores more real. Makes her story feel like it’s her story and I have to commend the King on achieving this so well. As I stated in a tweet while reading this novel, “When Dolores’ voice gets in your head, it’s over.” By that I mean, once you read the book and you no longer hear yourself read but Dolores speak with the voice your mind has imagined, then King has accomplished his goal. It is no wonder they made this a movie. I haven’t watched it but I’m going to add it to my list anyway.
Now as much as this is Dolores’ tale, it’s also about the other women in her life, mainly Vera Donovan and Dolores daughter Selena. They add in an amazing dynamic to the story. Vera is more hard-headed than Dolores and the two have disturbing feuds trying to gain an upper hand over the other. There was one particular episode that still shocks me to this day *shivers*. The next is Selena, the oldest and only daughter. Dolores really goes out of her way to protect her child and once again I see the depth of motherly love. Without these two characters, Dolores Claiborne would have been a boring character… and a boring book.
In overall it was a great book. Great characters. Unique storytelling. Not so much of a horror which was disappointing. Had a few shocking moments. A worthwhile read.
Rating: A well-meaning 3 out of 5.