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Check It Out: Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King

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This is Ben Bemus with the Sioux City Public Library and you’re listening to Check it Out.

Today I am recommending Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King, an unconventional novel in the form of a monologue with a charming and powerful voice.

Dolores Claiborne may have killed her husband in the summer of ‘63 – everyone on Little Tall Island already knew that, even if charges were never filed – but she sure didn’t kill mean old Vera Donovan decades later. She was the housekeeper and caretaker of Mrs. Donovan for years and, from all their arguing, it seemed like they couldn’t stand each other. What’s worse, Vera named her the sole inheritor of her vast fortune. So, Dolores knows how it all looks, and she decides to tell the police the whole story in hopes of clearing her name.

Sure, Vera Donovan went out of her way to be difficult to work for, and Dolores always had strong words for her whenever she went too far. But over time they had gotten used to each other, and Vera always paid well enough that Dolores could put money in her children’s college funds. That was why she worked, because her husband, Joe St. George, sure wasn’t going to be saving them any money.

Dolores and Joe married young, and whatever love they once had for each other died early on. While Joe was a cruel man, Dolores could stand her ground just fine whenever he got too angry or too drunk. But when he began to turn his abuse towards their children, potentially robbing them of their childhood innocence and bright futures, Dolores knew that she had to kill him in order to save them.

The novel is written as a transcript of her long and winding statement to the police about the man she murdered and the woman she did not. It is written in her own dialect and without interruptions, and this structure may be difficult to get used to at first. However, the story may also be enjoyed as an audiobook - fantastically narrated by Frances Sternhagen - or as an incredible film adaptation starring Kathy Bates. Check out Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King and other fantastic reads like it at the Sioux City Public Library.

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Avery Brothers.

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