“So what, ghosts can't hurt you. That's what I thought then.”
Billed as a "haunted love story" Bag of bones was first published in Septembers 1988 and it is a Stephen King Book with a bit of a background story behind it.
Since the Dead Zone in 1979, Stephen King had been publishing novels with Viking, but in 1997, after the publication of Desperation in 1996, King’s deal with Viking ended. At the time, it was reported that Stephen King was looking for an advance for his next novel of between $17–18 million, more than Viking had paid for previous books, and King also wanted to move to a publisher with more “serious” credentials.
In the end, Stephen king settled for a $2 million advance for Bag of Bones from his new publisher Simon & Schuster, along with a deal that gave the author a 50% share of all the profits.
There are many basic similarities between the plot of the Stephen King book and the plot of Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca", including the death of the wife, the effect that the dead wife has on the husband’s future relationships, a drowning and a haunted house, although the detailed plot of Bag of Bones differs significantly. The Daphne du Maurier novel is also referenced on several occasions in the early pages of Bag of Bones.
Stephen King’s Bag of bones was more than just well received; it won a number of awards. Bag of Bones won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel in 1998, and the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1999.
Bag of Bones – The Novel
So, what is Bag of bones about?
In Stephen King’s book Bag of Bones, the author returns to the familiar territory of a character who is also an author and this time the writer’s name is Mike Noonan.
Mike Noonan is a best-selling author, but, after his wife Jo dies unexpectedly, he suffers a severe case of writer’s block. Still grieving four years later and plagued by nightmares, Noonan decides to confront his fears and he moves to his summer home, called Sara Laughs, on the shores of a lake near the Maine town known only by its map coordinates, TR-90.
On his very first day in TR-90, Noonan meets Mattie Devore and her three year old daughter Kyra. Mattie’s father in law is Max Devore who is a powerful millionaire who has the whole town in his grip and is determined to gain custody of his granddaughter Kyra from the widowed Mattie by any means. Mike Noonan falls in love with both Mattie and her daughter and is drawn into their battle with Max Devore.
Meanwhile, Noonan tries to solve the mystery of Sara Tidwell, a blues singer whose ghost now haunts the house by the lake. He realises that the ghost of his wife Jo is trying to help him and it also becomes clear that Noonan has some kind of psychic connection with the young girl Kyra.
Bag of Bones is book about ghosts, about murder, and about love. The various interwoven plots eventually come together when the everyday meets the supernatural. Bag of Bones is a book that you will read wondering how all the various plot lines are related and end up saying “oh yeah!” and realise that all things are connected by the one terrible event.
Bag of bones is an enthralling novel that was described by the novelist Gloria Naylor as “a love story about the dark places within us all” and author Amy Tan said that Bag of Bones was filled with “the witty and obsessive voice of King's powerful imagination”.
Bag of bones would certainly not disappoint a long-time Stephen King fan and it would also be a good book for a new Stephen King reader to start with. It’s filled with suspense and intrigue and it’s the kind of book that you will want to keep on turning the pages of.
Bag of Bones – The Movie
Stephen King’s Bag of Bones was adapted into a four-hour TV miniseries, which was first aired in 2011. The film was directed by Mick Garris, who also made a miniseries of The Shining in 1997, and it starred Pierce Bronson in the role of Mike Noonan.
There are quite a lot of plot differences between Bag of Bones the Miniseries and Bag of Bones the Novel, although the general thrust of the story is the same. The ending is different and, for some reason, the name of Sara Tidwell’s son is changed. Why, who knows.
Despite the usual disparaging comparisons between the movie and the novel, the Bag of Bones miniseries received some pretty good reviews. The fact that it was a four hour miniseries did mean that more of the plot could be explored than would have been possible in a 90 minute movie, which is the usual reason why movie adaptations of Stephen King’s work fail.
As movie adaptations of Stephen King novels go, Bag of Bones is neither the best nor the worst. It is a highly watchable suspense/horror movie with a fair share of shock moments, even if the changed ending will probably have you giggling! >