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Introducing Miss Annie Wilkes
Misery - Stephen King
Member Name: dawnymarie
Misery - Stephen King
Date: 06/03/12, updated on 10/03/12 (165 review reads)
Advantages: A masterful piece of work - suspense and a page turner
Why Misery - how would a title like that appeal to me?
I have seen the movie some many moons ago and knew that - even though the title sounds pretty gloomy - the concept was original and clever. The movie had been very thought provoking at the time so I hoped that the book would unveil more insight and of course be an entertaining read.
Although I am very familiar with the name of the author and movies based on his books I have never considered reading any of his work. I felt like I had missed out on something special and intended putting it right. Stephen King is an accomplished writer - I was really interested to see how his books were crafted. I looked forward to the experience.
Paul Sheldon is a best selling author and his books about his leading lady who is named Misery are desired by many female fans. Many claim to be his No 1 fan - some going to great lengths to prove this. Having ended the saga of Misery satisfactorily Paul has now completed two years work on his new project - of which he is very proud. A drunken drive see's him head off towards a deserted area that is soon to be hit by a snow storm - he has told no one of his plans. Out of control Paul's car comes off the road and to a deadly halt. An unfortunate set of circumstances mean that Paul is rescued by a woman who considers herself to be his No 1 fan - you would think that he would be in safe hands then when Miss Annie Wilkes announces herself to him - think again! Situated in a lonely location Miss Annie Wilkes has her 'pet writer' and no one will hear him scream. 'Paul Sheldon used to write for a living - now he is writing for his life'.....
My first experience with Stephen King
And my goodness what better place to begin - I was comfortable with King's style immediately. The prose is exactly how I like it. You gain a feel for the environment and location without overuse of description and I felt that with that approach the isolation was more powerfully portrayed - it is genius.
I am first introduced to Paul - I didn't feel like I had any connection with him straight off and to be honest he wasn't an appealing character but I was drawn to the fact that he was a writer and was very interested in his experience and style - this, I think, gave me a glimpse into the mind of Mr King and how he creates his work. I didn't really get to know the depths and inner workings of Paul until he was pushed to his limits by the psychotic demands of his warder - Annie. He is under the influence of medication to ease the pain of his crushed legs - his mind is often ruled by the ebb and flow of his constant pain. I did warm to him and of course felt for him in his awful situation - what differed from the movie was all of the internal dialogue which was just brilliant. King's description of what the pain felt like was believable and the clever use of childhood memories mixed with his current situation was inspiring. Bit by bit Paul is stripped of any masculinity and courage as he realises the nature of the woman who has held him captive - eventually he admits to himself that he is fearful.
Annie initially came across as a very jolly and helpful soul - I say initially as it soon becomes apparent that she has a deeply depressive and psychotic illness. It will come of no surprise that I didn't warm to Annie - though there were odd moments in the prose where she displayed almost childlike warmth and vulnerability and even Paul had a fleeting second of compassion for her at these rare intervals. The character was completely believable and a frightening thought - Paul likened her moods to the cycle of the moon and I thought that was very fitting.
One thing that has stayed in my mind is the story writing rationale of Paul Sheldon - he doesn't have any plot lines. He works with 'what if' and goes from there. Also he understands something that he refers to as 'gotta' and that relates to the reader carrying on turning those pages because they 'gotta' know what happens. This made sense to me and I really liked the references to writing and getting into an authors mind. As Annie has demanded that Paul recommence the Misery saga there are chapters of the said prose included throughout the book - this adds to the climax beautifully and is highly significant and cross referenced. I was not sure about the inclusion of the Misery novel at first as I thought that it may be too much effort to be remembering two stories at once - however - I rather enjoyed the tales of Misery and found myself getting into the extra prose easily and it was not excessive. I think that it works well and is an important element to the structure of the book.
As the story progresses I was introduced to more of the environment and this consisted of the finer details that you would notice if you were restricted to the use of one room - held prisoner. Cracks on the ceiling, pictures and a calendar are his companions - along with an ancient typewriter with missing letters that seemingly mocks him with its surreal grin.
I know when a book is good as I have read it in no time at all - I cannot resist picking it up and continuing on the journey. I had the 'gotta' factor for sure. The chapters were really accessible and that makes it even easier to fly through the book as you will pick it up at every opportunity to read a short chapter - and the rest! This is a page turner if ever there was one - and not just because the heat turns up in the latter end of the book - each and every page was a pleasure to read and held my interest. Importantly, King gets on with the story and keeps descriptive passages to an appropriate - need to know - length. This story absolutely works because of this in my opinion.
Speaking of the final stages of the book - did it satisfy me? I can happily report that it did. Even though I have seen the film and have distant memories of what took place I was still racing through the pages to see what happened. As with most books - that have been adapted for movies - this one holds much more than you get in the film (from what I can remember the film was great). The thoughts going on in Paul's mind allows you into the full horrific scenario. The description of Annie's mood changes are very effective - I could easily imagine how it would feel to be in her presence. Terrifying. You don't know from one moment to the next what she will be capable of doing - Paul see's her as a bulk of solid mass with unmoving eyes, similar to those on a picture that appear to watch you wherever you move. The atmosphere throughout the book slowly builds to a dramatic ending which held me captive. This was a masterfully crafted piece of work and I feel privileged to have read it.
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If you are looking for an exhilarating read that is beautifully crafted then you won't be disappointed with this one. There are some grisly events that made me wince - very well described and built up masterfully to convey the utmost terror within the reader. Suspense is around every corner. The mind of Paul Sheldon is presented exquisitely and realistically - very believable in the situation that he is in. Miss Annie Wilkes is portrayed with precision and knowledge of her condition - accurate and frighteningly real. Both these protagonists were developed to a stage were I felt like I knew them and understood them. I warmed to Paul and had empathy for him - his traits were admirable to the end. Annie was never going to be someone who I would warm to but a part of me did sympathise with her when she showed her vulnerability - this was rarely so I'd run a mile! I can tell you that I found Annie unnerving - job well done. The climax to this tale is heart pounding stuff - suspense and 'what if' was always hammering at the door - the conclusion was very satisfactory. All ends tied up - a very neat piece of work. Excellent!
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Summary: I'm your No 1 Fan