Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption follows the tale of Andy Dufesne, told by Red. Both of these convicts serve life sentences concerning murders for their loved ones, however in the case of Andy, he was framed for his murder and is innocent. This story follows the two men on their journey through prison life.
Andy Dufresne is a criminal who was arrested for the murder of his wife and her lover though he maintains his innocence. Upon arriving at Shawshank Andy immediately separates himself from the rest as his calm and quiet demeanor is surprising for the weakling her looks like. Andy also has this hope to him that translates to the rest of the prison almost as he tries to do better. Red is the narrator of the story and is the man who can get you things in the prison. He’s been there for quite some time and has become so used to life there he doesn’t even consider parole until Andy starts putting ideas in his head.
Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption was nothing like I expected it to be. It was so much better. Before I get into the good aspects of the novella, I’m going to quickly get the negatives out of the way. For one, the beginning of the story was pretty slow. For me, it took a bit of time before the plot rolled to a point where I couldn’t stop reading. Another area that I didn’t enjoy that much was the length. I read the whole story in one sitting, and I wish there was more to the story than what was presented. But still, it was pretty worth it to read it all in one go.
Now with that out of the way, let’s talk about some of the aspects that I really enjoyed. For one, I loved the way this story was told. The story being told as if it was a written story with personal thoughts mixed in was a cool perspective and I really enjoyed that take. I also really enjoyed the two protagonists. Red, being pretty much a black-market merchant, was an interesting person to delve into in terms of thoughts, and Andy was a fun protagonist to have a story centered around. I especially enjoyed the interactions between Andy and the guards, as well as the role Andy played in the prison. Another aspect I enjoyed was how the plot picked up around halfway through. After reaching that point, it was hard not to put down the book, and given it is a shorter read, it was satisfying having the ability to finish it pretty quickly. The final aspect that I enjoyed was how all the aspects of the novella worked together. The foreshadowing was done discreetly, and it was satisfying seeing everything play out.
Overall, this was another wonderful piece by Stephen King. The characters, the plot, the reading time, the length, everything was put into a nice little package that could be read in one sitting. For fans of Stephen King or any who are curious about his work, definitely give this one a chance. It will be worth your while.
Favourite Moment (Spoilers):
My favourite moment hands down was the breakout. The way everything was planned to the execution was perfect. It was an amazing way to wrap up Andy’s story.
Novellas by Stephen King are always quick, entertaining reads, and this is no different. It’s a really quick read, and the size of the book forces the plot to move really quickly. We do lose out on some context, but that is what happens with a first-person narrator. Red is a really well character, and his life within prison is full of ups and downs. Reading this, there will always be the question of how much we can trust Red’s view on the story, but it is captivating regardless. If you struggle with a plot that can be all over the place at times, this might be hard to follow. Obviously, that is the style employed here, and for good reason, but that doesn’t make it any simpler to follow at times. The life within Shawshank is really well described, and the tone rarely swings up or down. It holds its own through the first 80 pages, and then we get a fantastic ending. I would have loved maybe 10 more pages past the ending, but what’s a novella without some kind of cliffhanger or unanswered question?
I really loved the different characters in this one. Stephen King does a fantastic job of blurring the lines between who is truly good or bad and shows that real people have many sides to them. It’s impressive how many characters get so developed in such a short book, but I thought it had a huge impact on the novella. Without these characters, the big moments wouldn’t have been that great, and the ending would have fallen flat.
Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption is a quick read, one that will turn your brain on, and get your imagination running. The characters are awesome, and the plot moves fast. If you have a couple hours to kill, this is the perfect book.
Favourite Moment (Spoilers):
Hands down, my favourite moment has to be when Andy escapes from prison. The details put into that moment, which is essentially the punchline of the entire novella, is fantastic. It was such an ingenious plan, and watching all the pieces fall into place was great.
My first experience with Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption was actually watching the film version which has become known as one of the greatest dramas of all time. I was curious to read the work that was adapted into such a great film. The book turned out to be a worthy companion to the film that I am glad I read.
Now my one critique of the book is that because the story is entirely narrated, we miss out on things that would be cool to read from a first-person perspective. The characters are so rich and interesting, especially Red and Andy. With the story being told by Red you feel like you get to know him by the end of it all and you picture him and the way he said things in the book so perfectly. Andy is also a great protagonist as we see him through the lens of someone else who respects and admires him which adds to the intrigue of the character along with his hope being a central plot point and endearing trait. The prison itself is so well established and things like the library and the yard with it feel like you might even be able to walk around these places that are described.
There are many scenes in the novel that I could just imagine without even thinking of the film and I love when a book sparks the imagination like that. For such a short book I was impressed how they packed the story in while never making me feel like it was rushed.
All in all, this is a great book that if you have the time you could read in an afternoon or two and I would definitely recommend you check this one out.
Favourite moment (Spoilers):
My favourite moment was easily the escape scene where Andy finally makes it out of Shawshank and we hear how Red thinks things went down. It ends this novel on a real high.