…in which I invite someone bookish to share one of their all-time favourite works of fiction and why it’s so special to them. This week’s Friday Fave comes from Tonile Wortley:
Anyone who has worked in a bookstore will understand what I mean when I say that more often than not, deciding what to read next is a terribly difficult choice. I worked in a bookstore for three years and often found myself overwhelmed by all the potential ‘next books’. It was very rare for a new release to come in to the store and demand to be read, but that’s exactly what Under the Dome by Stephen King did to me in 2009.
I was already an established fan of the King, and the concept of a small town totally cut off from the outside world instantly got my attention. Undaunted by the just-under-900-pages, I bought Under the Dome the day it arrived in store. When I finished it three days and two near sleepless nights later, I emerged from the pages a changed person.
The premise of the story, for those unfamiliar with it, is quite simple—one October morning Chester’s Mill, a small town in Maine, is inexplicably cut off from the rest of the world by an impenetrable dome. The dome comes without warning and causes significant chaos and carnage when it crash-lands into the countryside. When it finally lifts just over a week later, the town and the surviving people are unrecognisable.
For me, Under the Dome was the first book I’d ever read that contained a truly dark and twisted psychological element. In excruciating detail, King shows readers the very worst side of human nature. What scared me the most was how quickly the ugly side of certain Chester’s Mill residents was revealed. The dome had barely landed before characters began manipulating the situation to their advantage. It was equal parts compelling and terrifying, and it consumed my life for three entire days. Then, as quickly as it came, it was gone.
It took me a long time to leave Chester’s Mill and rejoin the real world once I’d finished reading Under the Dome. If I’m honest, I can’t recall a day that passes where I haven’t thought of the story or the characters in some way. I can’t quite articulate exactly what it is that has allowed King’s epic novel to retain its hold on me, but somewhere in those 877 pages a new Tonile was born. A Tonile whose rose-coloured glasses were permanently, ever so slightly, chipped. A Tonile who was more prepared for the shady motivations of others. A better, worldlier Tonile. The power of a single book doesn’t get much more impressive than that.
By day, Tonile is the editorial assistant at University of Queensland Press. By night, she writes for her book blog, My Cup and Chaucer. She is one quarter of the way through a Master of Arts, majoring in Writing, Editing and Publishing, and drinks tea and eats Chinese food like they are going out of fashion.
Your turn: Are you a fan of ‘the King’? I have to say, this book sounds pretty exciting!