A 2007 World Fantasy Nominee for Best Novel:
It was a long haul--not just because the book is 513 pages long, but because while I was trying to read it I was interrupted by having to brush up on two different TV series, and had to proof galleys for two novels and a short story--but I have finally finished Stephen King's novel, Lisey's Story.
I've heard that it's too long, and can agree with that, to a point. King might have been able to shave a hundred or so pages from it. But to do so would have hurt it, because it's not a book that's about a breakneck pace or a twisty plot (although it does have that). It's a book about a person, who is as fully realized as any person in recent fiction that I've read. Life is messy and complicated and filled with digressions and asides. In Lisey's case, she is missing a husband who died two years earlier, and her life's vocabulary is full of words and phrases that come from Scott Landon, her husband, as well as from the all-sister Debusher family she was born into, and these words, phrases, and stories (Scott was a writer of some note and more success) lead her down many different paths, albeit all of them heading toward one ultimate destination.
It's hard to be more precise without giving away too much. There are characters who want Scott's papers, the incunabula of a writer's life. There is a sister who becomes catatonic. There is the memory of Scott's brush with a would-be assassin. Laying it out in these terms vastly oversimplifies the story, which weaves in and out of itself, in and out of its own history, its own language, our world and another, like the threads of an afghan (an african, in Debusher/Landon-ese).
And then there's the prose. King has always been a good writer. But this one stands head and shoulders above the rest of his books in terms of the sheer beauty of the writing. It's like The Cell, which I considered pedestrian, especially for King, was just a quick keyboard exercise getting him ready to launch into what has to be considered his masterpiece (always leaving room, of course, for a later book to top it). With Lisey's Story, Stephen King should be elevated to the top ranks of American novelists, now or ever.
It's beautiful. It's moving. It's honest. It's about where stories come from and what they can do for (to) us. It's unforgettable.
Do yourself a favor.