Book Review: Dolores Claiborne

DOLORES CLAIBORNE | Stephen King
01.01.1993 (first published November 1992) | Viking
Rating: 5/5 stars

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Little Tall Island is a small island off the coast of Maine. One of its wealthiest and most disgruntled residents, Vera Donovan, has suddenly died in her home. Residents of the town knew that Vera was ill, but her death seems suspicious. Instantly blame has been put on her housekeeper, Dolores Claiborne. Dolores has been in this situation before when her alcoholic, abusive husband died almost thirty years earlier. She remembers the way the town talked and the assumptions they made.

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But listen to me, all three of you, n hear this if you don’t hear nothing else: everything I did. I did for love…the love a natural mother feels for her children. That’s the strongest love there is in the world, and it’s the deadliest. There’s no bitch on earth like a mother frightened for her kids.

As Dolores sits in the interrogation room at the police station she is finally ready to share her story. She has an extensive history on Little Tall Island and has been witness to many things that others have either been oblivious to or swept under the rug. Now is her time to tell her tale and she’s not leaving anything up for question. Dolores Claiborne knows who she is and will not apologize for the decisions she has made in life. What will be the price she has to pay for finally speaking her mind?

The road to hell’s paved with good intentions, they say, and I know it’s true. I know it from bitter experience. What they don’t know is why – why it is that tryin to do good so often leads to ill.

DOLORES CLAIBORNE is a stunning, engaging, and fascinating story centering around Dolores’ life. This story is told as a constant monologue from Dolores with no chapters to break up the tale. The timeline shifts from both present to past as Dolores sees fit to explaining her actions. The shifts, while not linear, are not confusing. They are well thought out and fit in the unraveling of Dolores’ story telling. Dolores is one of the strongest, no-hold-barred characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading about. Her story is one of struggle and triumph. Her actions are always taken with her children’s future and well-being in mind. Her life is the epitome of a mother’s love and the lengths one is willing to go through for the ones you care about.

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I held her hand n thought about how the world is – how sometimes bad men have accidents and good women turn into bitches.

Despite Stephen King being known for his horror writing, this story is not one I would categorize in that genre. The book certainly touches on some dark areas of life, such as alcoholism, sexual abuse, and domestic violence. I think it would be safer to put this one in the modern thriller category instead because there are more than a handful of instances where my heart was racing as I sped through the pages trying to find out what would happen next. For me, DOLORES CLAIBORNE is another example of how King can write across many genres and be able to consistently create masterful works. I’m sure I will hit the point of not loving one of his books, but I don’t think that day will do anything but remind me that everyone is human.

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