A Review of Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King

Dolores Claiborne is a small time woman just trying to get by in a world that just seems to go from bad to worse. She married a man who quickly became an alcoholic and she bore three children: Selena, Joe Junior, and Little Pete. He only worked part time and squandered away the family money on booze and gambling. Then when he was home he was verbally and mentally abusive to everyone in the home except Little Pete who he had deemed his mini me and would grow up to be just like him.

In order to make ends meet, Dolores took all the jobs she could get, eventually getting on with Vera Donovan, the richest woman in the town. She was the head maid, keeping the the place clean and being somewhat of a companion to the older woman as well. They both had the same “life can get at me all it wants but I’m going to keep chugging on” attitude and they got on quite well, learning that they both had abusive husbands and children to protect.

This book is an interview of sorts. Dolores is telling the events of her life and what led up to the death of Vera Donovan and the circumstances behind it. The only voice you read in this book is Dolores’s. She is being recorded by the town constable, Andy and the recorder, Dorothy. There are no chapter breaks because it is Dolores’s account as if it is being recorded.

I think that this tale is one of the best examples I’ve read that Stephen King is not just a horror writer. There are no supernatural events and the only monster is Dolores’s abusive husband. There is so much raw human emotion and I believe that I can understand and appreciate this story much more as a mother than I would if I would have read it before my son was born. This is the account of a mother desperate to protect her children and the consequences for the choices we make, even those that we think are the right choices.

I absolutely loved this book. It touched some of the deepest places in my soul, in both good and bad ways. I dealt with an emotionally abusive father myself so some things seemed all too real. Stephen King writes emotion so well that I could feel the gut wrenching emotions that Dolores felt at different parts in the book. She is someone that loves her family more than she loves herself and because of that I will count her in my list of favorite characters of all time. I easily give this one a 5 out of 5.


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