Author: Stephen King
Genre: Fiction (Marriage / Loss / Writer on Writing / Supernatural / Sisters)
Publisher/Publication Date: Pocket (6/19/2007)
Source: Personal copy.
Did I finish?: Yes, although I put off finishing it for about three weeks because I wasn't ready for it to end!
One-sentence summary: Lisey Landon, widow of famous author Scott Landon, finds herself the focus of a deranged fan.
Reading Challenges: R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VI
Do I like the cover?: I do -- the shovel is a huge motif in the story, but the wintry background doesn't quite fit (I think).
I'm reminded of...: Laura Lippman, Jennifer McMahon
First line: To the public eye, the spouses of well-known writers are all but invisible, and no one knew it better than Lisey Landon.
Did...I squeal when I caught two Lisey's Story references in the AMC miniseries of Bag of Bones?: YES. for once, I got the inside joke!
Did...I actually put off finishing this book for something like a month because I wasn't ready for it to be over?: YES. Normally I can't stop racing to finish but in this case, I was reluctant to leave Lisey and Scott.
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy or borrow -- this is a fast, engrossing read.
Why did I get this book?: My wife begged and pleaded for me to give this one a try and since I love her, I agreed.
Review: I spent my teenage years glutting myself on '70s-era Stephen King and burned out, vowing never to give him another minute of my time. Then I married a devoted Stephen King fan who has pestered me to read one of her favorites since forever. Upon signing up for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VI reading challenge, I decided to tackle a King novel then since it would fit the challenge perfectly and I'd get my wife to stop harassing me.
Little did I know I'd totally dig this book! I'm not going to say I'm a new King fan but I do have to acknowledge that something like twenty years has passed between the publishing date of the books I read as a teen and this novel, and thankfully, in twenty years or so, King's grown as a writer. I know I'm going to sound ridiculous swooning over Stephen King because everyone's going to think either, 'Welcome to the club', or 'Really?' but I can't help myself: this was an unexpectedly pleasurable read for me.
Anyway, on to the actual story. The novel follows Lisey Landon, widow of a famous, much lauded novelist, as she deals with her husband's papers. Nagged by academics and fans who think literary widows are a hindrance, Lisey finds herself the focus of a seriously deranged fan with violent designs on her. In dealing with him, Lisey has to come to terms with some moments in her marriage that she's tried to block out.
While I didn't always believe King's take on a fifty-ish widow, I enjoyed his articulation of a long, loving, albeit intense marriage. There was romance, in a way, since Lisey and Scott had a successful marriage, but it isn't a romantic story. I wouldn't call this a horror -- this was a creepy story but not out-and-out scary, which was good for me as I'm a wimp -- and it felt more magical-y than anything. Not quite paranormal, not quite supernatural, not quite fantasy. The narrative read fast, the characters felt real, including Lisey's deceased husband Scott, and I delighted in Lisey's real transformation into an ass-kicking heroine.
If you're new to Stephen King, consider this novel. I'm reminded a bit of Laura Lippman and Jennifer McMahon and that sort of tense, nail-biting, creepy thriller that is so good for lazy weekends and causes many late nights. And I promise, the exhaustion next morning is worth it!