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Dolores Claiborne Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 1993

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Reissue edition (December 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451177096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451177094
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (233 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

More of a mystery than a horror novel, Dolores Claiborne contains only the briefest glances at the supernatural. The novel presents Stephen King as a writer experimenting with style and narrative, time and perspective. Fans looking for a skin-crawling, page-turning fright or an undead bloodbath will be disappointed, but a patient reader willing to savor King's leisurely study of character and island life will find many rewards. And all of this is not to say that the book is without suspense.

The story unfolds in one continuous chapter, told in the first person by the cranky, 65-year-old housekeeper, Dolores, who is explaining to police officers and a stenographer how and why she killed her husband, Joe, 30 years ago. At the same time, in her rambling monologue, she insists that she did not kill her longtime employer, Vera Donovan--notwithstanding what the residents of Little Tall Island may be whispering. Joe was a drinker, and, as Dolores gradually argues, he deserved to die for the horrifying crimes he committed against his family. But Vera, despite her cantankerous disposition as a lady governing her decaying estate with her precise rules about even the most mundane household chore ("Six pins! Remember to use six pins! Don't you let the wind blow my good sheets down to the corner of the yard!"), was a good woman--or at least not an evil one. She was the woman who hired the young Dolores and kept her on even after Dolores got pregnant again. Dolores cleaned and cared for her even as the old matron faded into senility.

Dolores Claiborne is a rich novel that recalls the regionalist writing of the turn of the century. It is a fine place for a skeptical newcomer--put off by King's reputation for outright terror--to start. And for fans, it is a book that offers new insights into an author who's an old favorite. --Patrick O'Kelley

From Publishers Weekly

King's portrait of a Maine housekeeper accused of her employer's murder--a nine-week PW bestseller--shows him to be a magnificent storyteller.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Doctor Sleep and Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

Customer Reviews

Great Story and great main character.
Aida Mendez
There are parts of this story that made my scalp prickle, which is a testament to Sternhagen's style, as well as King's writing.
I actually read the book after seeing the movie on TV and enjoyed both.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By sweetmolly on October 10, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Stephen King answers critics who dismissed him as a "slick, horror writer" with "Dolores Claiborne." Written as one long chapter in the first person, in vernacular, King develops a character so strong that you are under the spell of a master storyteller. Cantankerous, blunt but sly Dolores has lived a long hard life. She is neither good nor bad, but has a fierce will and love for her family and a willingness to fight any and every battle to protect them.
The story is a taped interview with the police who suspect Dolores of killing her elderly employer, Vera Donovan, for whom Dolores has served as a housekeeper for over 40 years. Dolores thinks she must confess that she killed her husband Joe over 30 years ago to explain why she could not have killed her employer. As the story rolls, you are fascinated with the interplay between Dolores and Vera. Vera is a match for Dolores, equally strong minded and diverse. (Dolores is convinced Vera went senile just to aggravate her.) Her story of her marriage to the vile drunken Joe and her stealthy plans to kill him are riveting. Dolores can't remember any reason she married him except he had a "smooth, clear forehead." She is stealthy, not because she fears any person on this earth; she just wants to spare her children the knowledge that she killed their father. Nothing goes quite according to plan, and even powerful Dolores suffers long periods of mental exhaustion.
"Delores Claiborne" without monsters or the supernatural and told in an uneducated but perceptive, voice is brilliant. This is one of Stephen King's finest works and well worth the read.
-sweetmolly-Amazon Reviewer
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 16, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The conventional street wisdom is that the best movies adapted from Stephen King novels are the ones that do not mention they are adapted from Stephen King novels. Of course, if you look at the films "Stand By Me," "The Shawshank Redemption," and "Dolores Claiborne" as well as read the King stories they were based on, you would find that they are atypical works in that they do not have the supernatural elements we have expected from King ever since he published "Carrie." Consequently I am mulling over the idea that in some distant time there could be an emphasis on King's "non-horror" fiction that would study him as an example of a regional author and make an argument that even if he was the best selling author on the face of the planet at one time, that he was actually a decent written (i.e., the Charles Dickens of the 20th century).
"Dolores Claiborne" was written between October 1989-February 1992 (future generations of King scholars will have fun studying the overlap of his novels to create some tapestry of analytical insight) and the title character is a foul tempered, foul mouthed, old Yankee who has been living all her life on Little Tall Island off the coast of Maine. The novel is told in the first person by the 65-year-old Dolores, who has just been arrested for the murder of Vera Donovan, the even older richer lady who had been her longtime employer and who suddenly died in Dolores' care under extremely suspicious circumstances. In explaining what happened, Dolores not only tells her life story but also defends herself from the charge that she murdered Vera Donovan by explaining her involvement in the death of her husband Joe thirty years earlier on the day of the total eclipse.
It takes a while to get used to the way Dolores talks.
Read more ›
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Written in the POV of the title character, and in the local dialect, this story took me a couple of pages to get into, but after that, it was a page turner.
Dolores is a tough and gritty woman and much of the story recounts her dealing with the stern and often cruel woman that she works for during a thirty plus year time span, her abusive husband and the towns rumors that she might be a murderer.
After reading "On Writing" my first King book, I thought I'd try something else and this was a good place to start. I wasn't interested in reading King in the past because I once picked up "Cujo" and happened to turn to a page that was filled with gross descriptions of violence.
But since I enjoyed the movie adaptation of this book as well as several others King has written, I thought it was time to put aside my previous concerns and read one of his novels. I guess if your looking for horror, blood, and the supernatural this book probably won't be as enjoyable as you'd hoped, but it is an engaging story and the main character is likable. I was rooting for Dolores almost from the start.
I doubt many King fans would need to bother reading a review like this, so if you got this far and are wondering if you should give one of his books a try for the first time, I recommend this novel as a good place to start.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "uraniaapple" on January 27, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I started reading this book, I was bracing myself for a bad experience--I'd just finished Heart of Darkness by Conrad, which is three big chapters and boring as all get out... And this book is one big chapter. I was also wondering what the "supernatural" plot of this book was--Most other Stephen King books I'd heard the basic gist before I'd begun reading, and this one offered me no clue.
I was pleasantly surprised to find, however, that this plot only had a hint of the supernatural, and that it was basically a picture a small-town poor woman grafted onto the character of a tiny Maine island. Normally "mundane" fiction bores me to tears, but this was one of the best books I've ever read. It had the superb characterization of any Stephen King novel--better, in fact, than most of the others--but without the bone-chilling plots that simultaneously sucked me in and repulsed me. I found myself reading the novel, thinking, "This sounds like Mom," and "This sounds like Grandma." I sincerely felt like I knew Dolores.
That isn't to say that it's without supernatural elements. The supernatural bears very little relevance at all, but it helps build the mood of the novel and the tension of the climax. Instead of the setting and the characters being centered around a supernatural plot and hook that relates (and indeed, is a metaphor for) some aspect of human nature, it's merely a portrait of a fictitious but nonetheless realistic person, with the supernatural and mundane plot elements centered around a lifelike character and setting.
One thing worth note, though, is that this is very light reading for a King novel--I finished less than twelve hours after I started. The brevity of it aside, this is a great book, and it really gives you a picture of what it's like in any small rural hamlet... with just a glimpse of something darker that will satiate any King fan's need to escape the mundane.
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