Everyone’s heard of Stephen King, and everyone can agree that the man has a very exceptional talent for writing gripping thrillers. But I’ll be honest here and admit I haven’t read as much of Stephen King as I probably should have!
A lot of authors and budding writers cite King as their inspiration, and I’m guilty of that, too. I’ve read Carrie, The Shining, and maybe one or two others. I decided to give Misery ago, as I’ve heard the reputation of the novel and know it’s a must read.
As you may already know, the plot focusses on Paul Sheldon, a writer from America who has just killed off the lead in a series he has been writing for years. This series is Misery. Like many writers know, a series must come to an end, and a series as big as Misery has been taking up Sheldon’s writing time, and he wants to be considered as a ‘serious’ writer from now on. He’s travelling back from finishing a brand new manuscript, drunk and celebratory.
That’s when he crashes, and it all goes wrong.
His legs are mangled in the crash, which has crushed his car, and he is pulled out of a snow storm by Annie Wilkes. But Annie is no saviour. She’s a dragon lady of doom.
She claims to be Paul’s number one fan. And as time goes on, we see just how much Annie admires Paul. So much so, that she doesn’t realise what she is doing is doing more damage than it is good.
An exiled nurse, Annie haphazardly splints Sheldon’s legs, and keeps him as ‘patient’ in her spare bedroom. But Paul soon realises the woman is unhinged. Knowing she has power of Sheldon, she holds pills from him, attacks him, shouts at him and opens up to him. Annie truly believes a romance straight out a Misery novel is about to happen between the pair.
When she learns of the death of Misery, she is furious. She burns Paul’s brand new manuscript, and demands that he brings Misery back to life. Suddenly, Paul has to write to survive.
The development of Annie’s character is rather intriguing. You know immediately something isn’t right with her, but as time goes on you learn why. She shows a vulnerable side every now and then, as her mental health changes her perception of real life scenarios, but not once do you ever feel sorry for her. You can really see why this book caught so many’s attention. The portrayal of mental health may have been a taboo back in 87, or at least something that people tried to avoid talking about.
King has a talent for making you route for the good guy, which in this instance is Paul. I will admit, at the beginning it took me a little while to get into it, as I didn’t really see where it was going. But with all good suspense novels, the story must unfold naturally, and King is the one to do such a thing.
If you haven’t read Misery, I urge you to go out and get a copy! Annie is waiting.