I write this review with mixed feelings on Lisey’s Story. Firstly, I’m not sure if I care about the protagonist of this novel – or “little Lisey,” as she is often referred to.
Stephen King on the other hand favors this as the best book he has written, and I think I can probably see why. The main theme focuses on the martial bond, in life and in death.
In the novel Scott Landon, is a gifted writer and Lisey – his wife – is the person who keeps him grounded. This is probably replicated in King’s marriage with Tabatha. I mean she was the person who pulled Carrie from the wastebasket – the very novel that kick started his prolific career.
Yes, this is a love story but don’t think Mills and Boon!
The story, as the title suggests, is about Lisey Landon who is struggling with the death of her writer husband. King asks the question: What happens to the plethora of manuscripts and unfinished work? Would it be hard to part with? I think King has his own mortality in mind with these questions.
Lisey has the difficult task of sorting through her dead husband’s study – which is full of papers, manuscripts and unfinished work – and is constantly being pestered by academics who want it. It is while Lisey is deciding what to do with the material that we are told of their relationship though a series of flashbacks. I thought this device was very clever and enjoyable.
Although it was really interesting getting to know their relationship history, the “pet” names they had for each other were constantly being repeated throughout and became tedious at times. For example:
“Smucking” and “Babyluv”
To be honest, I hope that’s the last time I hear these words in my life. But it’s only a little quibble.
As it’s a King novel, messed up elements are standard. We’re soon introduced to Scott Landon’s dark place, which comes in the guise of Bo Ya Moon. It is described as an addictive, yet dangerous place with magical properties.
It is a place that is seen as a metaphor for the everlasting connection between a husband and wife. And it was the descriptive element of the mystical Bo Ya Moon that kept me turning pages.
The most interesting thing about the story was learning about Scott’s hereditary mental illness, which manifests as either homicidal mania or a deep catatonic state. In childhood, it is this condition that turns his brother into a unrecognisable monster chained in the basement. This is by far the scariest section of the novel. (See “section that stayed”)
Overall, the novel started slowly. There were points where nothing seemed to happen, except Lisey – understandably – moping around. On reflection this was probably a conscious decision to allow the reader to feel her loss.
The message – of everlasting love – was poignant and something I’m sure most people can identify with. You won’t catch me raving about Lisey’s Story, but if you want to see a different side of Stephen King, then give it a try!
Section that Stayed: Is the section that describes Scott’s brother chained in the basement. It gave me the creeps.
“The thing that used to be his brother lies sprawled with its back against the centre-post and its legs splayed. It’s naked except for Paul’s undershirt. Its legs and feet are dirty. Its flanks are caked with shit. The pie-plate, licked clean even of grease, lies by one grimy hand” (page, 404)
If you have any suggestions or discussion points then get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.