DOLORES CLAIBORNE

As Jessie Burlingame lies handcuffed to her bed in Gerald's Game (p. 487), she recalls how, on the clay 30 years ago that her dad molested her, she had a vision of a woman—a murderer?—at a well King explains that vision here: Dolores Claiborne is the woman, and her story of how she killed her husband, and the consequences, proves a seductively suspenseful, if quieter, complement to Jessie's shriek-lest of a tale. The garotte-tight Gerald's Game is one of King's most stylish novels, and the Maine author flexes more stylistic muscle here, having feisty Dolores tell her tale in a nonstop monologue, rich in Down East dialect, that steadily gathers force. Dolores, 65, is speaking to Andy Bissette, sheriff of the island offshore Maine where she's lived her life, most of it as housekeeper for Vera Donovan, a wealthy "bitch." We soon learn that Dolores has a confession to make—in her own sweet time ("I feel a draft in here, Andy. Might go away if you shutcha goddamn trap"). Amidst details—often crudely funny—of her power-plays with Vera, and of her early life, we learn how, years back, Dolores's rotten husband began molesting their teenaged daughter, then stole her college funds. Dolores's retribution—the killing—forms the story's centerpiece, and, taking place on the same day that Jessie's dad molested her, forges the psychic bond—neither elaborated on nor explained—between the two women. It's Dolores's final years with Vera, though, and the bitter manner of Vera's death, that have brought Dolores to the sheriff—and that ultimately transform this, like Gerald's Game, into a devastating tale of heroism in the face of life's suffering. Without the flash and twisted fun of Gerald's Game, this may not sell as well (despite a 1.5 million first printing); but Dolores is a brilliantly realized character, and her struggles will hook readers inexorably.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 1992

ISBN: 0451177096

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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