Paul Sheldon, a writer of historical romances, is in a car accident; rescued by nurse Annie Wilkes, he slowly realizes that salvation can be worse than death. Sheldon has killed off Misery Chastain, the popular protagonist of his Misery series and Annie, who has a murderous past, wants her... read more
Paul Sheldon, the author of a best-selling series of Victorian-era romance novels surrounding the heroine character Misery Chastain, has just finished the manuscript of his new crime novel, Fast Cars, while staying at the Hotel Boulderado in Colorado; since 1974, he has completed the first... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Paul Sheldon, the author of a best-selling series of Victorian-era romance novels surrounding the heroine character Misery Chastain, has just finished the manuscript of his new crime novel, Fast Cars, while staying at the Hotel Boulderado in Colorado; since 1974, he has completed the first draft of every one of his novels in the same hotel room. With his latest project finished, he has an alcohol-induced impulse to drive to Los Angeles rather than fly back home to New York City. However a snowstorm hits while he is driving through the mountains. Sheldon drives off a cliff and crashes upside down into a snowbank.
Paul is rescued from the car wreck by Annie Wilkes, a former nurse who lives nearby. She takes him to her own home rather than a hospital, putting him in the guest bedroom. Using her nursing skills and stockpiled food and medical supplies (including an illicit stash of codeine), Annie slowly nurses Paul back to health. She proclaims herself as Paul's "number one fan", being an avid reader of the Misery series. When she reads the Fast Cars manuscript, she argues with Paul on its violent content and coarse language, punishing him by withholding his medication and forcing him to drink soap water.
It is around this time that the latest Misery book hits the shelves. Unaware that this is also the final Misery book, Annie – whose life revolves around the character – buys her reserved copy. Upon reading the book, and learning of the main character's death, she flies into a rage and yells at Paul, saying she thought he was good, but he was just a lying old "dirty birdie". She leaves Paul alone in the house for over two days, stating that she may do something "unwise" if she stays. During this time, Paul suffers from hunger, thirst, extreme pain and withdrawal from the painkillers. By the time Annie returns, he is close to death. Upon Annie's return, she forces him to burn the Fast Cars manuscript - the only one in existence. She also presents him with a typewriter, which she annouces that he will use to create a new Misery novel, one that will bring her back from the dead.
After biding his time, Paul manages to escape his room while Annie is on an errand, touring the house in search of more painkillers. He is almost caught by Annie, but he manages to return to his room before she enters the house. Another time he gets out of the room when a rainstorm hits, sending Annie into a great depression. She goes to her "laughing place". He suddenly comes across a scrapbook full of newspaper clippings from Annie's life, all of which suggest that Annie is a serial killer who murdered her own father, her college roommate, and numerous patients in several states. He also finds a magazine clipping about his status as a missing person. Annie realizes that Paul had been out of his room, punishing him by cutting off his foot with an axe she killed someone with and cauterizing it with a blowtorch.
A Colorado state trooper eventually arrives at Annie’s house, searching for Paul. Realizing a chance for escape, Paul alerts the officer by throwing an ashtray through the window. However, Annie runs over the trooper with a riding lawnmower, gruesomely killing him. She temporarily hides Paul in the basement while she departs, meaning to dispose of the trooper's body and his police cruiser. When Annie returns, she and Paul argue about the condition of the typewriter given to him, angering Annie to the point of amputating Paul's thumb.
Paul finally finishes the new Misery book. As a celebration, he asks Annie for a cigarette and a match, which he uses to seemingly light his manuscript on fire. Paul fights with Annie, and stuffs her mouth full of the burning pages. She gets him down and runs to get a weapon to kill Paul, but she trips on his typewriter he had hit her with that started the fight, causing her to crack her skull on the mantelpiece. Mortally wounded she exits the house and goes to the barn to get a chain saw to kill Paul, but the head injury gets her and she dies in the barn. Two police officers find Paul and take him to a hospital.
Returning home to New York, Paul submits the new Misery novel to his publisher, who tells him that it will become his greatest bestseller. However, the ordeal is far from over for Paul: he suffers nightmares about Annie, and continues his withdrawal from painkillers. He has also become an alcoholic with writer's block. Eventually, after a random encounter with a child in the street, he has the same spark that inspired him to write Fast Cars. He begins typing about this boy and the skunk he had with him in a shopping cart.
“He didn't get out of the cockadoodie car!”Annie Wilkes
Down here we got our act clean yesterday, and we plan to start getting our act clean tomorrow, but we never clean up our act today.Highlighted by 31 Kindle customers
“But characters in stories DO NOT just slip away! God takes us when He thinks it’s time and a writer is God to the people in a story, he made them up just like God made us up and no one can get hold of God to make him explain, all right, okay, but as far as Misery goes I’ll tell you one thing you dirty bird, I’ll tell you that God just happens to have a couple of broken legs and God just happens to be in MY house eating my food ... and...”Highlighted by 29 Kindle customers
He was going to go up to the old hotel and sketch the ruins. His pictures were going to be with an article they were doing. It was a famous old hotel called the Overlook. It burned down ten years ago. The caretaker burned it down. He was crazy. Everybody in town said so. But never mind; he’s dead.Highlighted by 27 Kindle customers
The reason authors almost always put a dedication on a book, Annie, is because their selfishness even horrifies themselves in the end.Highlighted by 26 Kindle customers
“There may be fairies, there may be elves, but God helps those who help themselves.”Highlighted by 20 Kindle customers
Writing does not cause misery, it is born of misery. —MONTAIGNEHighlighted by 19 Kindle customers
“Someone could have come along and eased the boy’s terror, but nobody did ... because nobody does.”Highlighted by 18 Kindle customers
She was a woman full of tornadoes waiting to happen, and if he had been a farmer observing a sky which looked the way Annie’s face looked right now, he would have at once gone to collect his family and herd them into the storm cellar.Highlighted by 18 Kindle customers
There’s a million things in this world I can’t do. Couldn’t hit a curve ball, even back in high school. Can’t fix a leaky faucet. Can’t roller-skate or make an F-chord on the guitar that sounds like anything but shit. I have tried twice to be married and couldn’t do it either time. But if you want me to take you away, to scare you or involve you or make you cry or grin, yeah. I can. I can bring it to you and keep bringing it until you holler uncle. I am able. I CAN.Highlighted by 16 Kindle customers
Because writers remember everything, Paul. Especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he’ll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels, not amnesia. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is that ability to remember the story of every scar. Art consists of the persistence of memory.Highlighted by 15 Kindle customers
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