TITLE: LISEY’S STORY
AUTHOR: STEPHEN KING
PUBLISHER: HODDER & STOUGHTON
GENRE: HORROR FICTION
COVER TYPE: HARD BACK
I read Lisey’s Story when it was first published. This was my second read through.
BLURB FROM THE COVER
‘To the public eye, the spouses of well-known writers are all but invisible, and no one knew it better than Lisey Landon’. That is until the maddeningly humid, maddeningly muggy day her husband Scott, a celebrated, award-winning novelist, inaugurated the site of a new library in Nashville. The day that started with a broken toothglass…
Years later, Lisey is ruminating on their marriage of twenty-five years, a marriage of profound, sometimes frightening intimacy. Lisey has always known there was a dark place where her husband ventured to face his demons. Boo’ya Moon is what Scott called it; a realm that both terrified and healed him, that could eat him alive or give him the ideas he needed to write and live.
Now it’s Lisey’s turn to face her husband’s demons. And what begins as a widow’s effort to sort through her husband’s effects becomes a perilous journey into the heart of darkness.
To the public eye, the spouses of well-known writers are all but invisible, and no one knew it better than Lisey Landon. Her husband had won the Pulitzer and the National Book Award, but Lisey has given only one interview in her life. This was for the well-known women’s magazine that publishes the column ‘Yes I’m married to Him’. She spent rightly half of its five hundred word length explaining that her nickname rhymed with Cee-Cee. Most of the other half had to do with her recipe for slow-cooked roast beef. Lisey’s sister Amanda said that the picture accompanying the interview made Lisey look fat.
I really enjoyed Lisey’s Story. I remember not liking it very much in my first read through. I thought it was much better this time. It’s not one of my favourites but it’s moved up the list. I love the bits where Lisey sorts through Scott’s things. I love the flashbacks to his traumatic childhood. I love Lisey being stalked and attacked by a crazed fan of her husband’s. The only bit of Lisey’s Story that doesn’t work for me is the whole Boo’ya Moon thing. Scott could use his mind to travel to another world that can be dangerous and monstrous at night. Lisey can travel there and well and uses this place to kill the psychopath stalking her. I found these parts the least enjoyable bit of the novel.
I thought the title was okay. Lisey’s Story works but I thought it was a little boring.
I like the way Lisey’s Story is structured. Lisey’s Story contains 15 very, very long chapters. The narrative effortlessly moved back and forth in time between the present, Lisey and Scott’s long marriage and Scott’s childhood. I liked the way King used this to filter in back story without slowing down the pace or bogging the reader down with details.
I think the characterisation is excellent in Lisey’s Story. Lisey is a very interesting and well-drawn character. King does a great job of showing his reader’s a woman grieving and struggling to put her life back on track after the death of a loved one. King’s portrayal of her grief is very realistic. Lisey’s sister Amanda is also a very good character. She suffers from the same mental illness that plagued Scott’s family. Early in Lisey’s Story, Amanda has a break down. I felt this was very well written. Even minor characters like the police officers who patrol Lisey’s house after she starts to get stalked by a deranged fan of Scott’s are well written.
There are so many things I enjoyed about Lisey’s Story. I liked Lisey starting to sort through Scott’s things and recalling their long, intimate marriage. I liked the flashbacks to Scott’s childhood. His father suffered from bouts of madness. His family has a history of insanity. When these ‘bouts’ were bad he used to cut Scott and his brother Paul to let the madness out. Paul went insane when he was 13 and Scott witnessed his father kill him. Scott killed his father when he tried to kill him. Lisey is approached by a professor at Scott’s old college who thinks he has a right to any of Scott’s papers she finds. Following this Lisey is stalked and later beaten and mutilated by an insane fan of Scott’s who appears to have been ‘hired’ by the professor. I found these elements very well written and enjoyable.
Scott could travel to another world he referred to as Boo’ya Moon. He used a pool in this world to heal when his father cut him. He used the strange world as inspiration. He buried his father and Paul in this world when they were dead. He found a way to let Amanda travel here when her mental state started to deteriorate. This element didn’t work for me. I’m not sure why. I’m all for other worlds and strange dimensions. I just felt Boo’ya Moon didn’t fit with the rest of Lisey’s Story. There are no other supernatural elements in the novel so this didn’t hold together with the rest of the story. I would have enjoyed Lisey’s Story a lot more if Boo’ya Moon had been cut out completely or had been a place inside Scott’s head instead of another world.
Lisey’s Story is well written and enjoyable. King creates some great, identifiable characters. I liked the way he portrays Lisey’s grief. Amanda’s breakdown is very well written. I loved the sections where King reveals Scott’s disturbing childhood. I thought Lisey being stalked and later attacked and mutilated by a crazed fan of Scott’s was great. The only weak thing of an otherwise strong, enjoyable novel are the sections set in Boo’ya Moon, another strange and sinister world Scott can travel to at will. This is so out of touch with the rest of the novel I just couldn’t get on board with it.