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Misery Mass Market Paperback – June 3, 1988

4.6 out of 5 stars 730 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Misery (1987), as in The Shining (1977), a writer is trapped in an evil house during a Colorado winter. Each novel bristles with claustrophobia, stinging insects, and the threat of a lethal explosion. Each is about a writer faced with the dominating monster of his unpredictable muse.

Paul Sheldon, the hero of Misery, sees himself as a caged parrot who must return to Africa in order to be free. Thus, in the novel within a novel, the romance novel that his mad captor-nurse, Annie Wilkes, forces him to write, he goes to Africa--a mysterious continent that evokes for him the frightening, implacable solidity of a woman's (Annie's) body. The manuscript fragments he produces tell of a great Bee Goddess, an African queen reminiscent of H. Rider Haggard's She.

He hates her, he fears her, he wants to kill her; but all the same he needs her power. Annie Wilkes literally breathes life into him.

Misery touches on several large themes: the state of possession by an evil being, the idea that art is an act in which the artist willingly becomes captive, the tortured condition of being a writer, and the fears attendant to becoming a "brand-name" bestselling author with legions of zealous fans. And yet it's a tight, highly resonant echo chamber of a book--one of King's shortest, and best novels ever. --Fiona Webster

From Publishers Weekly

King's new novel, about a writer held hostage by his self-proclaimed "number-one fan," is unadulteratedly terrifying. Paul Sheldon, a writer of historical romances, is in a car accident; rescued by nurse Annie Wilkes, he slowly realizes that salvation can be worse than death. Sheldon has killed off Misery Chastain, the popular protagonist of his Misery series and Annie, who has a murderous past, wants her back. Keeping the paralyzed Sheldon prisoner, she forces him to revive the character in a continuation of the series, and she reads each page as it comes out of the typewriter; there is a joyously Dickensian novel within a novel here, and it appears in faded typescript. Studded among the frightening moments are sparkling reflections on the writer and his audience, on the difficulties, joys and responsibilities of being a storyteller, on the nature of the muse, on the differences between "serious" and "popular" writing. Sheldon is a revealingly autobiographical figure; Annie is not merely a monster but is subtly and often touchingly portrayed, allowing hostage and keeper a believable, if twisted, relationship. The best parts of this novel demand that we take King seriously as a writer with a deeply felt understanding of human psychology. One million first printing; $400,000 ad/promo; BOMC main selection.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Reissue edition (June 3, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451169522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451169525
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (730 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #355,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 4, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have never read anything written by Stephen King as I don't particularly like that genre. But a friend insisted that I read Misery, and I was astounded by King's talents. I was hooked from the very first page, and Misery is a book that will haunt yours days and nights long after you've finished.

Paul Sheldon is a popular writer celebrating the completion of a new book, when his car goes off a mountain road in a snowstorm. He finds himself with shattered legs, being held captive by a former nurse, Annie Wilkes. Ironically, Wilkes just happens to be his number one fan. While she's nursing him back from near death, Wilkes reads his latest book, where he kills off his popular character, Misery Chastain (a sappy, high-drama character whom Sheldon has come to loathe). She decides that Sheldon will write a new novel (just for her), in which he brings Misery back from the dead. And believe me-Wilkes has her methods to keep Sheldon writing! Sheldon soon discovers that he's like Scheherazade, and the best way to stay alive is to keep the stories coming. Wilkes is a true psychopath, and the mind games that Sheldon plays will have you riveted. His ultimate goal is to escape, but Wilkes is one shrewd character, and his getting out alive is slim at best.

Misery succeeds on so many different levels. The characters are so very well developed. In trying to figure out how to deal with Hurricane Annie, Paul also learns much about himself while he is trying to survive. Misery is filled with lots of symbolism-especially in the writing of his new book, Misery Returns. King also gives us a good look at the art of writing. He talks about the difference between a hack, a popular writer and a literary writer.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic book and I hate to give it anything less than five stars, but I also feel that I should warn potential buyers of the KINDLE version only.

I have both the physical copy and the Kindle version (I'm weird, whatever). The physical copy has a different font for the Misery Chastain chapters with the Ns, and eventually Es and Ts (I think) filled in by hand.

Not only does the Kindle version not reflect this even with mini pictures (booooo!), it is a horrid amalgamation of typos. The handwritten N becomes "n." or "r.". "Misery" for some reason becomes "Miser". Brings a whole different meaning to the book, don't it? There are also numerous typos scattered throughout the normal parts of the Kindle version which do not appear in the physical copy.

Being well after the return date of my Kindle version, I'm forced to deal with it. And by "deal with it", I mean go back to my physical copy, something I shouldn't have to do. Does anyone know of anything we can do? Strongly worded e-mails? Angry faces? Intense frowning at our Kindles?

If this has been fixed, then yaye! If not, you have been warned.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
It's common knowledge Stephen King can take a simple idea and turn it into a 500,000 word marathon; it's one of the reasons MISERY is one of my favorite King novels, because--for a change--King gets into the meat and potatoes of his story from the first page (and he doesn't let up until the last). Consequently, the novel is one of his shorter works.

The beauty of this book is not so much the helplessness and horror of being captive to Annie Wilkes as it is the inner workings of Paul Sheldon's brain. Bestselling author of the Misery Chastain series (a character he has come to loathe), Paul talks to himself throughout his ordeal in Annie's Rocky Mountain hellhole. This self-dialoge is riveting, entertaining, and often downright funny. In fact, the humorous undertow throughout the book makes Annie's "behaviour" even more alarming and frightful. Nothing like copping a chuckle while Annie is wielding an axe or being destructive on a riding lawnmower; yet King pulls it off, page after page.

I'm an allegorical kind of guy, and I can't help but think MISERY is a novel about Stephen King himself and the hell he was putting himself through during his substance abuse days. Writing, euphoria, pain, addiction, terror: all were in vogue for both Paul Sheldon and Stephen King in the 1980s. MISERY is King at his dysfunctional best.
--D. Mikels, Author, THE RECKONING
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is my first Stephen King novel and I have to say, I loved it.
SUMMARY: Paul Sheldon, a bestselling novelist gets into a car accident. His NUMBER ONE FAN, Annie Wilkes, takes him into her home and nurses him back to health. In a way. Holding him captive, she makes him write his greatest novel just for her.
UPS: This book has a lot of detail and really makes you feel like you're right there with Sheldon, keeping you on your toes. It is suspensful the whole way through and gets even more spine-chilling towards the end.
DOWNS: About 40 pages of the book is the book that Paul Sheldon is writing. It gets a little boring reading these parts and there doesn't seem to be any importance in reading them.
OVERALL: This book is hard to put down, indeed. Even though I haven't seen the movie, the mental image I had of Annie Wilkes was exactly that of Kathy Bates. It took me only a few days to read and I really enjoyed it. I recommend this book to anyone who's going for a good horror novel.
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