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Gerald's Game (Signet) Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 1993

3.6 out of 5 stars 452 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While this is one of the best-written stories King has ever published, it will offend many through sheer bad taste. Jessie and Gerald Burlingame have been married for 20 years. Kinky sex is Gerald's game; lately he has taken to handcuffing his wife to the bedposts. During one such session, via a series of bizarre circumstances, Jessie accidentally kills her husband, and for the next 28 hours she is trapped. King effectively uses this tragicomic conceit to take us deep into the mind of "Goodwife Burlingame."sic For the first third of the book he is at the top of his form, creating in Jessie one of his most intense character studies. Then, Jessie's ruminations lead her to remember a long-repressed episode of incest that is startling not because it becomes a central element of the plot, but because the details of the sexual relationship between father and daughter are salaciously--and lengthily--described. The gory stuff--how Jessie escapes her handcuffs, for example--is prime King, but this is subsumed in the book's general tastelessness. A lame wrap-up to what might have been a thrilling short story only further compromises the enjoyment readers might have found in this surprisingly exploitative work. 1.5 million first printing; $750,000 ad/promo; BOMC main selection.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

King takes it over the top, way over the top, in an exquisitely horrifying frightfest about a woman forced to face her deepest fears--and then some. Jessie Burlingame, 39, is getting plenty tired of being handcuffed to the bed of her Maine summerhouse by her attorney- husband, Gerald, so that he can play his silly sex games. So when Gerald refuses to uncuff her, she kicks him in the family jewels, accidentally smashing them to kingdom come--and the terror begins. Each hand cuffed to a bedpost, the keys out of reach, Jessie howls for help--and is answered by a feral dog that proceeds to chow down on Gerald's face in lavishly described, muscle-shredding detail. As the long hours pass, cramps bite like iron jaws into Jessie's own flesh; but they're nothing compared to the thirst raging through her. Can she somehow reach the glass of water on the shelf above her head? It takes the most tightly controlled writing King's ever done to find out, but soon even the thirst pales beside the guilt- gargoyles that Jessie's mind begins to throw up, all pointing at the sun-eclipsed day so long ago when she became much more to Daddy than just his little girl. The minutes tick by, each an agony--and King's just warming up. Night falls: What's that shadow in the corner? The one with the smirking face of Death? And how can Jessie, growing into a heartbreakingly brave heroine, escape? She tugs and tugs at her wrists but can't slip them past the cuffs. Is there a hot, sticky lubricant at hand? He's not really going to describe that, is he? But, with a ferocious gleam in his eye, King does, out-splatterpunking everyone else on the planet in a tour de force that--even given some overindulgent psychologizing, awfully strong echoes of Cujo and Misery, and a long, peculiar anticlimax--is his most wrenching novel to date. This one is really scary. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Signet
  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Reissue edition (July 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451176464
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451176462
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (452 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #634,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
It was an old criticism of King's work, before "Gerald's Game" and "Dolores Claiborne" were published, that he couldn't write a convincing female character between the ages of 17 and 70. Given his penchant for writing about either young girls (Carrie White, for example, or the little girl Charlie from "Firestarter") or old women, it seemed to be a valid point for a long time.
This book, which is an excellent one for many reasons, seemed to be King's first direct response to that criticism. In it, he proves once and for all that he can write a female lead character as compelling and believeable as any of his other characters, and can tell a fine yarn at the same time.
The book starts out in surprising territory for King: a sexual game being played by Gerald Burlingame, who has just handcuffed his wife Jessie to the bed. This is not the first time this game has been played -- it's an old routine at this point, one which Jessie never particularly liked and has now grown quite bored with, to the point of frustration. She tells her husband that she doesn't want to do it this time, but he presses on. In the ensuing struggle, he has a heart attack and dies, leaving her handcuffed to the bed, in the middle of nowhere.
That's when the story really starts. King's real strength in this story is not just in telling what happens to Jessie in her predicament, but King uses this device to tell the story of how she got there in the first place. What sort of woman is Jessie? What events led her to this place, this man, this scenario? In the course of the story, as Jessie struggles to free herself from her bonds, we also find out why she is there.
Contrary to what some other reviewers have said, I found this book to be a page-turner.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
After finishing Gerald's Game, I feel like I have just fallen out of the visionary world Stephen King has written, and anybody can journey to it by picking up this book. From start to finish, this is psychological terror at its best, and if a person was entranced as I was they could finish this book in about 2 days if they felt the need to, because the reader just has to know the outcome to the story or he would go insane waiting to see what happens. Although Gerald's Game deals with some very controversial subject matter, such as child abuse and sex, this book is not overshadowed by the mature subject matter. This was once in fact supposed to be a movie, but the producers had no idea how to show somebody topless for the entire movie without recieving an NC-17 rating, so they just dropped the whole movie idea. Here below is a quick overview of the story and the writing:
Story: As the novel opens, we meet timid Housewife Jessie Burlingame, who is still haunted by an accident from the past, and her husband, Gerald Burlingame, the curious husband who has a slight heart problem. Both of them are vacationing at their Lake House when Gerald decides to pull out his handcuffs and test them out on Jessie. Jessie is then handcuffed to both of the bedposts, with only 6 inches of armroom allowed. With Jessie still locked up and the keys all the way across the room, Gerald suffers a fatal heart attack, leaving Jessie hopelessly handcuffed with no way to get out of the bed. As time passes, Gerald's body starts looking pretty scrumptious to a hungry stray, who ventures into the house and starts turning Gerald into Dogfood. All the while Jessie valiantly tries to get a water glass full of water off the shelf that is just barely out of her reach, but she has to try or else she fears she may just go insane.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a huge Stephen King fan, my first novel was "Firestarter" when I was in Elementary school. Despite mixed reviews, I read "Gerald's Game" and loved it. I liked it because I was told beforehand that this is not a typical King-horror story. I think if you are looking for something really gross and horrific, try "It" or "Desperation". But if you want just plain ol' keep- you-up-all-night-suspense..you'll like this one. Psychic suspense is the best. The main character, Jessie is married to a man who loves to have kinky sex. You know the type, "anywhere, anytime"... Well, he chooses a remote house , pretty much out in the middle of NOWHERE to set the scene for his latest sexual adventure. At first Jessie is into this. It seems fun to be handcuffed and be dominated, but soon the control becomes frightening. Her husband stops listening to her yelps to stop, and she sees a an "evil" in his eyes. Jessie responds in anger by "kneeing" him in an unprotected area. He then falls to the ground. DEAD. Everything now begins to happen in REAL TIME over two days, so if you read the book in two days and literally put the book down when night falls and Jessie sleeps, you BECOME a real watcher of the action, almost a participant. Jessie's relief to get her husband off her leads to a series of scary events to save her life. She calls out for help...something happens. She finds personal items on the shelf over her head...... She hears strange noises...... It's kind of like playing "MYST". How do you use your wit and skills and items in the room to free yourself? All these dilemmas are nothing compared to Jessie's own mind fighting against her. She panics, sees and hears things. Are they real?Read more ›
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