Let me start by saying, Stephen King isn’t for everyone. I think even he knows this. For me and my brother, he’s a legend. I remember being little and seeing an old copy of Desperation on my dad’s nightstand. I have since read it a couple of times. I honestly was never drawn to Misery because the story itself was honestly a bit boring to me. I had seen the movie with Kathy Bates and James Caan. I never found it that frightening – then, I read the book.
The book’s general synopsis involves a famous author getting in an accident while driving in bad weather. He is found and essentially kidnapped by his # 1 fan – the unstable and homicidal Annie Wilkes. First, the book does a great job of making Annie elusive yet at the same time uncomfortably close. While we only get bits and pieces of her history, we can surmise that she was a nurse who was fired and brought up on legal charges due to questionable deaths of her patients – she was never indicted. She moved to an isolated house in the middle of nowhere and built her castle out of Paul Sheldon books.
I’m a nurse practitioner and I can see some obvious mental illness in Annie Wilkes. She has clear attachment issues. She is obsessive and compulsive. She has some dissociative symptoms as well (of course the majority of people with mental illnesses do not act as Annie Wilkes acts – many with mental illness are unfortunately more interested in hurting themselves than others).
The transformation in Paul Sheldon is painful and the trauma he endures leaves a lasting mark on him. He is never the same. He has clear post-traumatic stress disorder. He is crippled due to Annie’s awful hobbling scene. Even though physical Annie cannot hurt Paul anymore, the effects of his captivity while under the strict control of this mad woman have created a lingering ghost that will never let Paul be.
In closing, this book surprised me. It’s a dark novel and though the movie is enjoyable, it doesn’t begin to do it justice. It’s terrifying. It’s hard to read at times. I had to take a couple of breaks. In the end, however, it’s a great book. It’s classical Stephen King. It’s a hell of a ride.