Delores Claiborne, a cranky old maid for a rich lady, tells the story of her life – from the “accidental” murder of her husband and how he got to inherit millions from her mistress after her “accidental” death. Highly recommended, but if you are expecting a horror story from the horror master, you will be disappointed.
With books like this one from King , you do much better reading the thoughts in the minds of the characters. This one will keep you up at night reading.
Meet Dolores Claireborne – a hard working woman – pinching pennies for her children’s education, working a back-breaking job as a maid for the rich widow Vera Donovan. She is a good mother, a good wife, a steady pillar you would love to have as your neighbor.
Her husband, not so much.
He loved his drink and he loved going out with the boys. He has a quick temper and when Dolores laughs a little bit too much about a rip in his pants, he hits her with a fire log across the back – nearly breaking it. This is when Dolores knows she needs to set down a set of rules, otherwise he will hit her again and again – possibly maiming her or killing her in the process.
She knows that domestic violence is a bad way to end a marriage and she threatens him with an ax that she will kill him the next time he sets his hands on her. This scene is witnessed by her children and the only thing they understand is that mommy is being mean to daddy and that mommy is a meanie. Using this to his advantage, he manipulates the children into hating their own mother – who is working so hard to bring food on the table.
When his daughter starts growing up into a beautiful teenager, he starts behaving inappropriately towards her, asking to be touched privately, telling her that he needs the comfort that her mother does not provide… Dolores notices that something is going on as her bubbly daughter starts wearing saggy clothes and becomes uncommunicative. She catches on and confronts her on a ferry when she’s returning from school – to ask what’s been going on with her and when she finds out about her husband’s incestuous behaviour, she decides to leave him and take the kids with her.
When going to the bank to pick up her savings from their joint account – a whooping $2,500 earned by saving up from her $50/month job in 15 years, she finds that the bank account is empty – her husband used her checking book to clear out everything.
She is filled with despair, stuck in a marriage with a man she hates, who stole her money and abused their child. She breaks down in front of her employer and Vera tells her that accidents happen to all people. For example, her own husband died when the brakes failed on his car while driving to see his mistress, leaving her the only heir to his immense fortune.
Getting the message, Dolores confronts her husband and tells him to keep his hands of her daughter or else..
He stays away but Dolores knows he will relapse and one day he will go forward from casual touching to rape, so she waits for the night of the eclipse to murder him. She is cold and determined as she serves his last sandwich and then tells him that she knows what he did with the money. She knows he has been spending from it but the bulk of it, $2000, was in his own account and the bank, after hearing how he stole it from her, decided to give it back to her from his account. This is a lie in fact but he falls for it and threatens her, asking for the money that he thinks it’s his now…
She runs from him into a nearby forest, and as the day grows darker during the eclipse, she jumps over a well in the ground and waits for him to fall in.
He does so and then when she thought he was dead, he climbs up and Dolores has to kick him back in and cover the well. He dies in that well and the police find him a few days later, after she has filed a missing person report.
The children are grieving for their father and silently accuse her for driving him away.
She is stern, she knows what she did – she did for the love of her children and for their future.
Vera also knows what she did but never mentions it.
The second part of the book was about the life Dolores had with the now senile and fat Vera, who became bed-ridden with old age. She made Dolores’ life miserable – by defecating in the bed and then using the feces on the walls around her.
She falls down the stairs and when Dolores comes from the kitchen to end her suffering, the mailman gets the wrong impression and accuses Dolores of murder. An investigation ensues and the old case of her dead husband is brought up to light.
The book ends with Dolores’ daughter returning to the small island to help her mother during the tough times and the news coming in that she is now a very rich heiress of Vera’s fortune. The murder suspicions cause riots in the town and loads of people start throwing stones at her house and ostracizing her – even before a fair trial starts.
If you want to know how it ends, have a read – it’s a very good book and you won’t regret it!