Monday, December 19, 2011

Lisey's Story by Stephen King

Title: Lisey's Story
Author: Stephen King

Genre: Fiction (Marriage / Loss / Writer on Writing / Supernatural / Sisters)
Publisher/Publication Date: Pocket (6/19/2007)
Source: Personal copy.

Rating: Loved!
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!


  1. I too was a young King reader...Pet Sematery, The Shining, Christine, Carrie and even Misery...but after that, I lost interest. I'm glad to hear this one may bring back the classic writing of Steven King. I'm adding this one to my WishList :) Thanks for the review!

  2. @Peppermint: Exactly -- me too! I think I read Needful Things until the last five pages, and just threw it aside. This one really surprised me -- I do hope you pick it up as it's a great deal of fun. I've got 11/22/63 in my TBR should I feel like giving him another chance! ;)

  3. I have surprisingly never read King, but have this book on my shelf. It seemed to be an interesting story, and now that I hear how much you loved it, I am anxious to get started with it. I really need to get into a book that just grabs me and knocks my socks off, you know?

  4. @Heather: !! Oh, I hope you get a chance to read it soon -- I'd love to hear what you think of it. I was really interested to see his writing style -- it felt very Stephen-King-y and yet, is pretty inventive and modern -- he has his own diction and private language and music/pop culture are as much a character as the people and places. Really novel writing for someone who I think gets panned as being cheap entertainment.

  5. I am squealing! Ready to download away and read Sir King. Being a new fan, and as you recommended, this does sound right up my alley. THANK YOU!

  6. @Natalie: I think you will love this one -- it was so good. Can't wait to see what you think of it!!

  7. I have read one book by him, that fantasy one...dragon? Eye? I liked it at least

  8. I am an avowed wimp, but maybe I could handle this one! I am going to put it on my RIP list for next year! Thanks, Audra.

  9. I hadn't read any SK in a LONG time. I just recently read and loved 11/22/63. I think I need to track this one down esp. with your comparison to Jennifer McMahon. Love her books.

  10. I haven't read Stephen King in forever! Except his memoir, On Writing. That was fantastic! Glad you enjoyed this one so much!

  11. I love Stephen King tooo much, but I'm really excited to read this one, because its main character is a woman which almost NEVER happens with Stephen King (not that I think he's really misogynistic, just that he's more comfortable writing as men) so yeah, exciting! Yay Stephen King! :)

  12. I read this about three years ago, and the one scene that has really stuck with me is the one with the, you know, can opener. I shudder every time I remember that. Speaking of more recent King, I highly suggest The Green Mile if you haven't read it yet. Definitely one of his best books. :)

  13. Glad u loved this. I started enjoying Stephen King all over again after a 20 year break from him. His new book 11/22/63 is amazing (no review yet).

    Happy Holidays to you and Yours!

  14. This would be fantastic for me to read...I LOVE King...and there are some more King books that I want to read...ah, you are adding to my list again.

  15. I haven't read Stephen King for years, but my mother-in-law is a huge fan. This one sounds intriguing. I'm hoping to get to 11/22/63 soon too, but I'll keep this one in mind. I'm glad you loved one your wife loves so much too!

  16. I've only read a couple King books and even those were over 10 years ago. I think I have this one on my shelf and am super intrigued now!!