Dolores Claiborne is a remarkably straightforward story by Stephen King’s standards. There is little of the mystical or macabre involved, just a teensy bit of supernatural phenomena which has little bearing on the plot and serves only to connect this novel to another within the Stephen King universe.
Otherwise, Dolores Claiborne is a first-person narrative about a housekeeper making a statement to the police after the death of her employer. For nearly 400 pages Dolores details practically her whole life story in an attempt to make the detectives and the stenographer in the interrogation room understand and believe her. The story is written in dialect, and Dolores’s Maine accent, with its ayuhs and wa’ants and using “n” for and, takes a bit of getting used to. But once Dolores warms up to the gist of her story, the reader will be fully engaged.
Dolores tells a compelling story of a crumbling marriage to a drunken lout even worse than she imagined, and the drastic measures she took to save her family from his evil. She also tells the complicated story of her time in the employ of the wealthy Vera Donovan, a domineering bitch (in Dolores’s own words) who runs her house like a tyrant, terrifying the meeker members of the staff and torturing Dolores at every opportunity.
While Dolores is a sympathetic and lively character the novel proceeds on a predictable trajectory, leading up to some reveals which I suspect may have been meant to be more shocking than they were. I believe an attentive reader will see all of them coming.