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Dolores Claiborne

Written by: Stephen King
Narrated by: Frances Sternhagen
Length: 9 hrs and 15 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (24 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"An unforgettable, unflinching glimpse into a mind driven to murder" (San Francisco Chronicle) - the number-one national best seller from Stephen King about a housekeeper with a long-hidden secret from her past...one that tests her own will to survive.

Dolores Claiborne is suspected of killing Vera Donovan, her wealthy employer, and when the police question her, she tells the story of her life, harkening back to her disintegrating marriage and the suspicious death of her violent husband 30 years earlier. Dolores also tells of Vera's physical and mental decline and how she became emotionally demanding in recent years.

Given a voice as compelling as any in contemporary fiction, the strange intimacy between Dolores and Vera - and the link that binds them - unfolds in Dolores' account. Dolores Claiborne is "a literary triumph. The finest of King novels...a plot of enormous energy.... Read this book." (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

©1993 Stephen King (P)1992 Penguin Highbridge Audio

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Unique plot device works. Great novel

This book has all the best elements of a Stephen King book. Fascinating characters, a creepy 'What The...' plot (not really spooky in this one), and amazingly realistic descriptions of events and people. I'm convinced the man could make shopping for shoes interesting...turning mundanity to something fascinating. There is nothing in this book that's mundane.

The book has NO CHAPTERS. The whole thing is written in a strict first person perspective...one long confession in a police examination with ONLY the protagonist's voice. Gutsy approach that reminded me of Kafka and Hunter S. Thompson in it's attempt at something non-conventional. It works!

Frances Sternhagen does a fantastic job narrating. Her Eastern New England dialect is bang-on. A perfect Maine accent that's not over-the-top. Excellent emotion, appropriate pauses. You are not listening to her reading a transcript of an interview, you're with her in the interrogation room.

The book and presentation does have a couple of flaws:
Dolores is inexplicably well-read. A folksy bumpkin one moment, quoting Shakespeare the next. And why does this woman, clearly feeling justified in what she did, even give this confession? Guilty conscience? Afraid? Doesn't quite fit this iron-willed character.
For some reason they add music to some specific images Dolores describes. The musical interludes are out-of-place, reminding me of the red-coated kid in 'Schindler's List' but way less effective. I mean, they put in sound effects to make it sound like a recorded interview, then add a splash of "artistic" theme music?

This book and it's performance still rates a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

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loved it

phenomenally read, could have finished in 1 sitting if I was not constrained by work

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Awesome

I love this story and have listened over and over. the narrator is absolutely perfect and the quality is great!

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Frances Sternhagen’s Perform Adds Additional Star

Thoroughly enjoyed this! A nice dive into the Stephen King Universe clocking in just under 10 hours. Not as suspenseful as it’s companion piece, Gerald’s Game, but more of an engaging character study than the other. On story alone I probably would have given it three stars, but I’m not sure. This is a delema Audible presents because the performance of Frances Sternhagen was so good it made the character of Dolores Claiborne come alive for me.

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A favourite

I loved the movie with Kathy Bates, but there's something about Frances Sternhagen's performance (Cliff's mom from Cheers) that I enjoy even more. #audible1

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Matthew S. Hill
  • 2016-06-06

Absolutely Fantastic!

This is a perfect audible. The story is compelling and nail biting at times. The performance by Francis Sternhagen is stunning. She is Dolores Claiborne. The Audio quality and small sound effects are great. You could hear a pin drop in the room.
You truly feel like one of the people in the room with her.
I highly recommend this book.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Cookie
  • 2016-10-16

Frances Sternhagen was made for this book

This one made me have to admit- Stephen King is a good writer. The story was engaging, humorous, scary at times, with a nice little twist at the end.
What really made it a great experience was the narrator. Her delivery- and accent- made me forget I was listening to a book- more like I was sitting across from her, listening to her story.
I was looking for a "light read" and got much more.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • K. Brown
  • 2018-03-27

Beyond Amazing

Would you listen to Dolores Claiborne again? Why?

Ok, I've seen Delores Claiborne the movie so many times I can't even count. It's one of my favorite movies. I finally decided to listen to the book and it was brilliant.

What did you like best about this story?

I love that it was different from the movie and I love that they took really great elements from the book to create the movie. I think they did a great job on the movie's interpretation of the book. The book's performance was just so riveting and fun and haunting.

Have you listened to any of Frances Sternhagen’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Frances Sternhagen performance is the best, she really made the story come alive. I've never listened to her before (I don't think) but her performance really held your attention and she really does an amazing job.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I'm not the same as the book but I'm just as brilliant.

Any additional comments?

LISTEN TO THIS BOOK!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Trey Weller
  • 2018-07-06

One of King's Hidden Gems, Performed Masterfully

Stephen King's Dolores Claiborne is unique among his works, a novel told as an elderly woman's lengthy confession. It's funny, gripping, moving, and utterly spellbinding in its depiction of a working wife and mother. In this book, Stephen King creates one of his most memorable characters, and her voice elevates this book from good to great.

That voice is perfectly captured by Frances Sternhagen. She embodies everything Dolores is over the course of the novel, and gives her a kind of nobility through her struggles. She's incredible from the first minute to the last. I simply could not stop listening. If you're looking for a good use of your credit, look no further.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Solo Jones
  • 2018-06-17

best performance!

the narrator was simply amazing and brought the book to life. 5 stars for sure!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2018-04-19

One of King's underated classics!

I can remember watching the movie before the novel in the 90s and had never gotten around to finishing the books some years later. Now in my very busy adulthood I can say that this book is one of King's underated classics! If you had seen the film before reading the book like I did then you'll notice the differences in certain characters and chapters to film scenes, but all the while still enjoying it nontheless. The narrator was excellent and had me engaged the entire book. A must listen for any King fan!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Eric Mochnacz
  • 2018-03-06

An underappreciated King gem!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes! I have always gone straight for King's horror, but this novel is so unique that it deserves to be applauded as one of King's best. More known for his horror novels, this is a self-contained, restrained novel about the lengths a woman will go to to protect her family. Although not a typical King book, it is still amazingly well-written and one of the best books I've listened to/read.

What did you like best about this story?

The entire book is told from Dolores's perspective as told as part of a police interview. This is a unique narrative device but it serves the story incredibly well.

Which character – as performed by Frances Sternhagen – was your favorite?

Well, she only serves as Dolores, as the story is a police interview. Sternhagen was impeccable in her portrayal, especially with her Maine inflection.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Dolores is an interesting character. The entire time, you're not necessarily sure whether she is guilty or not. She is a character for whom you feel sympathy, and all of a sudden you are defending her for some of her actions in the book...all while questioning her motives. She is complex. This book made me think and I found myself cheering for a woman who had had a hard life.

Any additional comments?

This is one of King's best, elevated by Frances Sternhagen's narration. Also, catch the movie immediately after. It's as faithful as it can be (it wouldn't have been a good movie if it took place in an interrogation room) with stellar performances by Kathy Bates and Christopher Plummer.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sewnmachine
  • 2018-08-06

Just WOW!

This was one audiobook that kept me curled up on the couch until it was finished. The story keeps you going until the very end. But the Narrator!!!! For certain genres she is worth seeking out. Perfect for this story.
Highly recommended!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Onnie
  • 2018-06-02

EXCELLENT!!!

This book is excellent! Oh, how I enjoyed it! The performance was excellent! You'll enjoy it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • RueRue
  • 2017-12-08

Compelling narration

Loved the narration by Frances Sternhagen ! She really stayed in character and kept the story moving. Honestly, though, I found the story less than compelling. Very predictable ( I anticipated every plot twist ) and very drawn out ( it took over an hour of listening time to detail the death of Joe St. George). Stephen King is a terrific writer, and he gets credit for doing something a bit different here, even if it didn't quite work for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful