Different Seasons by Stephen King (Hodder Paperback, 2012)
This book is a collection of four Stephen King Novels; Hope Springs Eternal (Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption), Summer of Corruption (Apt Pupil), Fall from Innocence (The Body), and A Winter’s Tale (The Breathing Method).
Hope Springs Eternal
This is my favourite of the four stories. It’s a beautifully written novella that first came to my attention through the film, Shawshank Redemption.
Hope Springs Eternal is the story of Andy Dufresne’s stint in Shawshank Prison for the murder of his wife and her lover, told through the eyes of Red, a fellow inmate. At times, Hope Springs Eternal is horrific to read as we see Dufresne attacked by The Sister’s, a gang of prisoners who prey on the vulnerable, and his treatment at the hands of the guards and the Governor, especially when Dufresne uncovers evidence to prove his innocence. Essentially though, Hope Springs Eternal is a story about hope as Dufresne clings to his innocence and the idea that, one day, he will get out of prison.
Summer of Corruption.
This has also been made into a film called Apt Pupil starring Sir Ian McKellen.
Apt Pupil begins as thirteen-year-old Todd Bowden uncovers evidence to suggest a neighbour, Kurt Dussander, is actually a fugitive Nazi war criminal. Instead of turning Dussander into the authorities, Bowden manipulates and blackmails him into sharing stories about the horrors and atrocities he committed in the Second World War.
As the story progresses, the pair form a sort of friendship or bond that brings the worst out in each other. Being reminded of his past reignites Dussander’s dark side. In turn, Bowden’s destructive bond with the Nazi encourages and grows Bowden’s own dark side. The result is horrific.
Summer of Corruption is horrific, but also strangely absorbing.
Fall From Innocence
This was my least favourite of the four novellas. As with the above two stories, this novella has also been made into a famous film called Stand By Me.
Fall From Innocence is set in 1960 in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, and follows a group of boys as they set out to find the body of a twelve-year-old boy, Ray Brower, who went missing and is presumed dead. The story is narrated by the adult Gordon Lachance and is told from his point of view.
This is a coming of age tale. A story of boys from dysfunctional families coming to terms with where they come from and the harsh realities of life and death.
Personally, I found this story a little bit boring (sorry, not sorry) but I know many of you will disagree.
A Winter’s Tale
Now, this little story tucked at the back of this large novella is a bit of a strange one to review as it seemed to be vastly different from the three preceding stories.
The Breathing Method follows David, a Manhattan lawyer who is invited by a senior partner of the law firm to join a mysterious Gentlemen’s club where the participants are encouraged to tell stories.
On one such occasion, Dr Emlyn McCarron tells the horrific story of a woman who is determined to give birth to and raise the illegitimate child she is carrying, whatever the cost. The Breathing Method refers to the technique that McCarron teaches her to keep her calm during childbirth and which has an unintended and gruesome consequence when the woman is involved in an accident.
A Winter’s Tale is very atmospheric, a chilling tale which really is a story within a story. I just wish it had been longer!
This anthology collection is well worth delving into. I would give it 4 1/2 stars out of five simply because I found The Body a little boring (however, I know many of you will disagree!)
Great for those who love to read about real-life horror. Not so great for those wanting some of that supernatural horror King writes so well.