(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Paul Sheldon’s first memory is of “stopping"--of not being able to “pull another breath,” and, as he tells it, of being raped back into life by the stinking breath of his unknown caretaker. He does not know where he is, except that he is in a strange house, immobilized by his strange, newly shattered legs, and trapped in a deafening “thunderhead” of pain. As he slowly emerges from near death, he begins to remember who he is and what he was doing before the accident that caused his injuries: he is a phenomenally successful writer of adventure/romance fiction, and he had recently killed off, in the last book of the series, the character who had come to haunt him--Misery Chastain, a melodramatic woman who had made him a millionaire.

After he destroyed Misery, he remembers, Paul wrote a new novel, one of which he was proud, and set off with the manuscript in his car to begin a new life. Drunk with liquor and with glee over his recent act of authorial murder, he hit a sudden snowstorm high in the mountains of Colorado, crashed--and here he is now, crippled, at the mercy of his strange rescuer. As Paul’s health returns, to a degree, he realizes with mounting horror that this woman is not merely strange--she is crazy.

Her name is Annie Wilkes, and Paul likens her to the moon goddess, for, as he describes it, with the precious “Novril” capsules she dispenses, she can bring in the tide to cover his pain. She is a large-breasted, solid woman, a former nurse, somewhat motherly, given to homey...

(The entire section is 625 words.)