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October 2016: Historical Fiction > House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne - 3 Stars

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message 1: by Regina Lindsey (new)

Regina Lindsey | 1005 comments “The wrong-doing of one generation lives into the successive ones, and . . . becomes a pure and uncontrollable mischief.”

The entire story takes place within a home known as The House of Seven Gables, which still stands in Salem, MA. In the opening scenes Colonel Pyncheon covets the house owned by Matthew Maule. In order to get his hands on the property Pyncheon accuses Maule of witchcraft, of which he is ultimately found guilty and sentenced to hang. At his execution Maule, "curses" Pycheon by exclaiming, "God will give him blood to drink," a quote taken from historical events. When the home is open to a house-warming party, the Colonel is found dead under his portrait with blood staining his beard. The community is sure the family is cursed and the story follows succeeding generations in the home where family members seem to reinforce this notion even as a romance develops and a descendant of Maule.

Let me say I adored The Scarlet Letter. Of course, knowing I was going to visit the House of Seven Gables in Salem I thought it was time to read this work. I started it before the tour and it was a real slog! After touring the home and reading A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience which introduces Thomas Maule, a fascinating historical character completely overlooked by most historians and the inspiration for Matthew Maule, the book was more palatable. The tour was so great my husband, who is not a reader, has said he's going to read the book.

While the book will never be a favorite. I'm glad I read it. Most of us are aware of the author's change of spelling in his last name with many theories surrounding why. After reading this book I can't buy that he wanted to distance himself from his relative. I got the sense he was more trying to come to terms with his family's past. But, it is also certainly an important read as the witch trials marked the beginning of the end for Puritanism and Classicism as Romanticism and Transcendentalism emerged. I also simply adored Hepzibah and Phoebe. I found those characters incredibly well-drawn.

message 2: by Karin (new)

Karin | 7018 comments I started this book, but didn't get far. I loved The Scarlet Letter once I got past that onerous opening section.

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