Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 110: Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King

by | Jul 11, 2022 | 2022 Book Reviews, Wisdom From Kammbia Column | 0 comments

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

This scripture from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13 in the New Testament, is the first thing I thought about in writing this review of Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King.  The Apostle Paul speaks to the Corinthian church about the serious issues they are having, and this definition of love comes from that letter.  Whether or not you are religious, I believe this definition of love is appropriate and has universal meaning.

Dolores Claiborne tells police the story of her life after they suspected her of killing Vera Donovan, her wealthy employer. She hearkens back to her deteriorating marriage and the suspicious death of her violent husband, Joe St. George, thirty years earlier. Dolores shares of her employer’s physical and mental decline, and the relationships with her children after the death of their father.  This is a confession novel and unconventional for King.  There are no chapter breaks or scene breaks.  Just a woman telling her story in a colorful and honest way.

King writes this near the end of the novel:  Everything I did, I did for love. The love a natural mother feels for her children. That’s the strongest love there is in the world, and its the deadliest. There’s no bitch on earth like a mother frightened for her kids.

In the end, King wrote a story of love (and hate) in a variety of facets.  Dolores Claiborne has been considered one of his lesser novels.  I’m not a King aficionado, but this novel is an excellent character study and a well-told story.  I will admit that I did not enjoy reading this novel on an entertainment level.  However, I’m glad I read it and King is a special talent whether you like his work. Dolores Claiborne will not be every reader’s cup of tea but a master storyteller gives us a novel that shows horror does not always come from the supernatural but from what people can and will do to each other.


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