I’ve been sitting here trying to think about how to write about this book, and it’s sort of defeating me. I keep thinking of sentences to start the review, and then dismissing them because I hate them.
Okay, so here we go again, let’s see if this sticks: This is one of King’s rare experimentally playful books. It feels weird to say that a book that is what this book is about (abuse, husband murder, caretaking) and features what this book features (old ladies who mischievously shit themselves, people being pushed down wells, the sexual assault of a child), is “playful.” But that’s what it feels like! King tells the whole story in Dolores’s words, as she confesses to the police. It is told in vernacular, and Dolores’s voice is front and center. She talks back to the people who are interviewing her, asks for drinks, makes frequent asides, and despite the tragedy of her story, she can be very funny at times.
If like me you’d heard the name of the book/film for years before ever learning what it was about, Dolores Claiborne is accused of murdering her long-time employer, an elderly and disabled woman she’s worked for for over thirty years, and to whom she’s a caretaker and companion. To clear her name, Dolores decides to set the record straight about her life, which has been gossiped about for years on the small island on which she lives. She comes to the police and tells them basically, hey, I didn’t kill my employer, but I did kill my husband, do you want the story or not?
I really enjoyed reading Dolores’s story. You can’t help but like her, and empathize with her. By the end of the book, even her most morally compromised actions are completely understandable. This kind of book is why I love Stephen King. He tells you a story, and in telling that story, he tells you things about himself, like that he really seems to find women more interesting than your average white male author. This is Dolores’s book, and King shows a pretty good understanding of what would make a woman like her tick, and what and why she would do the things she does.
This is one of his smaller books, and is well worth the read, as long as you can take the subject matter.