Thursday, November 17, 2011

The House of Seven Gables - Book Review

The House of the Seven Gables/Nathaniel Hawthorne

How? Kindle
Why?  I was supposed to finish this one by Oct. 14 for a R.I.P. group ReadALong...
Ahem. :p
What Now? to the glass case this one's a keeper

Golden Lines: 
 "It will never be allowed," said he.  "The custody of this secret, that would so enrich his heirs, makes part of your grandfather's retribution.  He must choke with it until it is no longer of any value.  And keep you the House of Seven Gables!  It is too dear bought an inheritance, and too heavy with the curse upon it, to be shifted yet awhile from the Colonel's posterity."

With what fairer and nobler emblem could any man desire to shadow forth his character?  Ah! but in some low and obscure nook, - some narrow closet on the ground-floor, shut, locked and belted, and the key flung away, - or beneath the marble pavement, in a stagnant water - puddle, with the richest pattern of mosaic-work above, - may lie a corpse, half decayed, and still decaying, and diffusing its death-scent all through the palace!  The inhabitant will not be conscious of it, for it has long been his daily breath!

Spinster Hepzibah Pyncheon lives alone with a scowl on her face in her family home until the day Cousin Phoebe with her bright sunshine shows up to lighten every aspect of Hepzibah's dreary existence. Together they try and hold the Pyncheon legacy together in the old house and seem to be doing well until Hepzibah's brother Clifford returns and brings back to the surface a generations old curse on the Pyncheon family.  A hidden deed, stolen property, mysterious relatives and a house that has seen it all weave a story that takes the reader back to the very beginning, providing clues along the way.  What really happened between the Pyncheons and Maules; why was one family set for life and the other destined to live in poverty?  What really happened that night so many years ago to plunge brother Clifford into a lifetime of despair?  And, most importantly, who is the real villain of this story??

My Thoughts:
I thoroughly enjoyed this book...I enjoyed the language and the descriptions and didn't get caught up in them as I've read some people do.  Of course American Lit is my favorite, so I'm sure I'm biased.  I think what I needed from this book was a truly enjoyable slow paced, but not too slow paced, journey through a narrative.  I definitely got that.

I felt like I knew Hepzibah, Phoebe and even Clifford.  I hated Judge Pyncheon because he just reeked of meanness, and the way he treated Clifford was if he was just trying to push Clifford over the edge.  Holgrave, who lived in one of the gables, gave me the creeps a little because he was such a mysterious character the entire time...I was never sure of his intentions, nor was I sure Hepzibah or Phoebe was safe with him.  I loved Phoebe and Hepzibah...Hepzibah for her acceptance of her life (to a certain extent) and for welcoming Phoebe into her home and not even being jealous when her beloved brother wanted to spend more time with Phoebe than her...and Phoebe's simple acceptance of Hepzibah, just the way she was.  I also loved Phoebe's simple love of life.  She opened her eyes each morning to see the sun, to see Clifford, to see their garden, to spend time in the shop...she is a true pure hear, and I think her presence was a blessing for Hepzibah.

I kept waiting for a ghost.  Twice I thought I had the story figured out...and twice I was wrong.   When Clifford and Hepzibah left, I didn't see that coming at all and was so disappointed but frightened at the same time.  I decided then that Clifford was a psychopath...
See.  I was all over the place...and I really didn't know what was going to happen.  
I didn't figure this out until the very end of the story, and that was cool bc it doesn't happen very often for me anymore.  
Are you confused?

Final Recommendation:
I would read this one again just for the sheer enjoyment of reading Hawthorne's prose-like narrative.  If you enjoy words, language, Hawthorne, "typical" American Lit, dark, spooky old timey stories, you'll like this one.
Don't try to fly through it though; take your time and enjoy it :)
Yes, I'm an English teacher; why do you ask?

1 comment:

  1. Certainly a great choice for a RIP challenge:)

    I know that I read this one years ago, but my recollection is limited to remembering that I thought the feel of the book was very "eerie." I may have to re-visit this one soon.