Stephen King is such a skilled storyteller. He has a ‘voice’ that I find incredibly compelling.
“And then sometimes a day would come, a gray one (or a sunny one) when she missed him so fiercely she felt empty, not a woman at all anymore but just dead tree filled with cold November blow. She felt like that now, felt like hollering his name and hollering him home, and heart turned sick with the thought of the years ahead and she wondered what good love was if it came to this, to even ten seconds of feeling like this.”
Lisey’s Story differs slightly from King’s other works. Yes, you can tell his style from the very first page but in Lisey’s Story he plays a lot with font, words, and sounds. Really, King has a right go at it. And I loved it. I always noticed how King pays attention to accents and expressions but here he outdoes himself.
Lisey’s Story introduces us to Lisey, a middle-aged woman, widow of Scott Landon, a famous writer and a somewhat troubled man. Two years after his death Lisey and her older sister, Amanda, go through some of his stuff in his office. Old memories are ignited by the sight of a photo, making Lisey recall much of her life with Scott. The border between past and present seems to blur and because of this the story isn’t always easy to follow. Nevertheless, I think that the confusion we might feel is intentional: Lisey herself is confused, so why should we get a clearer recollection of certain events?
Sadly, Lisey has other troubles demanding her attention; Amanda’s health reaches a new-time low, and a man wanting Scott’s surviving work is leaving increasingly threatening messages.
The novel unfolds slowly, but really brings to life the character of Lisey. Her memories, her grief, and her frustration are perfectly rendered. We are given many different impressions of her marriage with Scott. Lisey herself forgets or doesn’t allow herself to remember the worst things that happened to Scott, keeping the reader ‘out of the loop’.
The ‘sister-thing’ was another strength of this novel. The relationship between Lisey and Amanda was so incredibly vivid: their history, the way in which they spoke to one another…these moments between them felt all too real.
Last, but not least, I want to praise King’s ability to picture different times and places in such an evocative and clear manner.
Lisey’s Story is a bit of a dark horse: it is slow and labyrinthine but it also has a lot going on.