‘Dolores Claiborne’ by Stephen King


When Vera Donovan dies suddenly, her housekeeper Dolores is ready to tell her version of what happened, but with gossip and long-standing suspicions about how her own husband died, Dolores needs to put things straight, so her story is going to be told her way and it’s going to include pretty much everything.

This has been on my bookshelf for ages, so I thought it was about time I got around to it. Having never seen the movie version (and knowing how much Hollywood can bugger-up a story), I wanted to get the original under my belt first. Stephen King’s reputation as a horror writer is perhaps a little over done, as some of his books have very little to do with the genre. This is one of those stories that’s centred around relationships rather than spooky stuff, and while there are some pretty gory details and a good few images that’ll likely stay with me for weeks to come, it’s definitely not a book for scaring folk.

Unusually, Mr King takes a different approach with this book and instead of chapters, he just writes the whole thing through from start to finish with no breaks. Told from the point of view of the main character and in her very distinctive voice, we hear about her children, her home life and her difficult marriage to Joe, but it’s her love/hate relationship with Vera and how the two women’s lives connect through the years and impact (especially) on Dolores, that make this such a powerful and moving tale.

The writing and King’s use of language is superb and had me hooked from page one, demonstrating the author’s continuing and ever-growing talents as a storyteller. With a unique and strong central character, this is a thought-provoking tale that I’ll remember for a very long time.

NB After writing this, I took a look at the trailer for the movie Dolores Claiborne, and much as I love Kathy Bates, it’s clear that it’s a very different kettle of fish to the book, so much so, that I think I can safely say I’m never going to watch it.

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  2 comments for “‘Dolores Claiborne’ by Stephen King

  1. 21/02/2021 at 4:04 PM

    A most interesting review, Colin. I also enjoyed this book and a lot of King’s earlier works although I have not enjoyed any of his more recent books.


    • 21/02/2021 at 5:04 PM

      I read several of his books many years ago and have been slowly catching up with more recent ones. I think this is one of his best, along with The Green Mile 😉


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