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The House of the Seven Gables
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Nathaniel Hawthorne Collection > House of Seven Gables Discussion SPOILERS

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message 1: by Trisha (new) - added it

Trisha | 492 comments This novel is not too long, so we are only going to use one thread. Please post your comments here. I am hoping to start it right away!!


message 2: by Judy (new)

Judy Olson | 18 comments I have only gotten through the first couple chapters, but I am enjoying the "feast" of the written words. The descriptions of the house itself, and the story of the way the property was acquired...makes for the beginnings of a wonderful reading experience.


Dana | 8 comments It has been a feast of words for sure...glad to have a dictionary on my phone handy at times....I find myself reading each chapter at least twice!


Dana | 8 comments But I do like it, I meant to add and look forward to the discussion!


Jane(Janelba) (janelba) I've just completed the first chapter and even as an English as a Foreign Language teacher I have been pleased to have a good dictionary by my side. I like the use of language so far and how the house came about etc. Looking forward to getting involved in discussions on this book.


message 6: by Judy (new)

Judy Olson | 18 comments I love Hepzibah, and the beginning of the shop in the house. She strikes me as a sweet little lady, someone like someone you know.


message 7: by Judy (new)

Judy Olson | 18 comments I love Hepzibah, and the beginning of the shop in the house. She strikes me as a sweet little lady, someone like someone you know.


Silver | 102 comments I have to admit that I myself did not find the writing of this story to be quite as captivating as others, compared to other works of Hawthorne I have read I felt the prose in this one was at times a bit cumbersome. For me the story started out quite slowly, but as I continue to read it is beginning to grow upon me more so.


Jane(Janelba) (janelba) I too am enjoying meeting Hepzibah and finding her a likeable character.


Jenny (jennyc89) I agree with the feast of words. I'm only in the first chapter, but I'm really loving the aesthetics of the words.


message 11: by Dana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dana | 8 comments I'm new to the group and want to know how the discussion works? I don't want to 'spoil' anything for anyone, but I fear this book will end and we'll just feel like the story is ready to start since it took a book to describe the characters?! Or is that the point of the story? Hmmm...


Bollinger | 21 comments Dana wrote: "I fear this book will end and we'll just feel like the story is ready to start since it took a book to describe the characters?!..."

I thought that too when I began the book, but it seemed to me that after all of the characters were finally introduced, the plot really started rolling along...at first without my even noticing that there was a plot. Quite a nifty revelation at the time. Let me know if you feel the same way once you've finished the book.


message 13: by Judy (new)

Judy Olson | 18 comments I have gotten to the point where you meet the photographer, who was described as someone who practiced animal magnetism. Great info from Google on this type of hypnotism and mind control that was a big part of Victorian belief. These folks were a very superstitious group.


Jenny (jennyc89) What a refreshing read! I've been reading a lot of heavy-action novels lately, so this is just what I needed. Hawthorne's writing is so aesthetically pleasing. I'm surprised how much I liked it. I originally didn't have interested in Seven Gables, but I decided to give it a try because I've been to the house that inspired it. I ended up not being able to put it down! I read most of it yesterday and this morning.


Silver | 102 comments I have to admit that while there are aspects of the book that I do enjoy and I do not dislike it, I do find myself a bit disappointed in it. I love gothic literature, and I have really enjoyed previous works of Hawthorne which I have read. But I am about halfway through this book and so far nothing at all seems to be really happening.


message 16: by Dana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dana | 8 comments Bollinger wrote: "Dana wrote: "I fear this book will end and we'll just feel like the story is ready to start since it took a book to describe the characters?!..."

I thought that too when I began the book, but it..."


I finished it in the wee hours 2 days ago, as I just could not put it down for oh the last 5-6 chapters. I do feel that same way. The plot is very sly, with the House being the main character and is evil personified and even sweet Phoebe had to leave it for a while to escape it(or so I imagine). There were also some very good quotes 'life is made up of marbles and mud' and 'losing your youth to develop your soul' and many more that are so applicable today, what 150+ years later? I also liked the name of each chapter. Hawthorne did a great job there. If you think about it and I don't have the book with me right now, but most chapters were 'nouns' - Phoebe's Goodby, Alice's Posies, Clifford's Chamber. So that's a good hint that the characters are the plot and it took me a while to really get that and then enjoy it. I enjoyed the book and feel such an accomplishment for reading my first classic in a very long time! Now, onto Wuthering Heights....


message 17: by Alex (new) - rated it 3 stars

Alex | 118 comments Where are we on this? Has everyone finished it who intends to? I'd love to discuss the book as a whole, but I don't want to spoil anything for anyone still reading.


Jenny (jennyc89) Alex wrote: "Where are we on this? Has everyone finished it who intends to? I'd love to discuss the book as a whole, but I don't want to spoil anything for anyone still reading."

I've finished the whole book.


message 19: by Alex (new) - rated it 3 stars

Alex | 118 comments I'll give folks a couple days to post here if they don't want spoilers - if necessary, we might be able to start a Spoiler thread in this folder - and then we can all start arguing about why I only gave this three stars. :)


message 20: by Mo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mo | 53 comments I read it quickly and finished it a while ago. I gave it three stars as well. It was just a little too slow for me, although I did appreciate Hawthorne's writing. When I compare this work to Hugo's, which I also read right around the same time, I find that Hugo's work is so much more interesting and entertaining to me.


message 21: by Alex (new) - rated it 3 stars

Alex | 118 comments I read Les Mis pretty recently: totally agree, Hugo kicks Hawthorne's ass.


message 22: by Jenn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jenn | 0 comments I'm really struggling with this book. It is just such a slow read. I'd much rather be reading ahead on Les Mis but I want to keep pace with the group.


message 23: by Alex (new) - rated it 3 stars

Alex | 118 comments Jenn wrote: "I'm really struggling with this book. It is just such a slow read."

Heck, it's not that long anyway - and Chapter 18 is worth it. I promise, that chapter's pretty great.


message 24: by Jenn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jenn | 0 comments Alex wrote: "Jenn wrote: "I'm really struggling with this book. It is just such a slow read."

Heck, it's not that long anyway - and Chapter 18 is worth it. I promise, that chapter's pretty great."


Good, that gives me something to look forward to since I am on chapter 11. I know it is so short, and that is the most frustrating because I should be getting it finished so much faster! :)


message 25: by Trisha (new) - added it

Trisha | 492 comments I feel like the book started out very slow as well, but I am optimistic in hearing so many people say that the plotline picks up! Since so many people have finished reading it, let's open up the discussion to potential spoilers....and I will hurry up and finish it before I read any further!!

Attention!!! SPOILERS MAY BE IN FUTURE POSTS!!


message 26: by Mae (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mae (maethorn) | 53 comments I'm glad to hear it picks up. I've been struggling to read it and actually have put it down a couple times for other books. I told myself I have to finish it before I can read another book now.
I love the language but the plot is slow coming. I'm about half way through.


message 27: by Alex (new) - rated it 3 stars

Alex | 118 comments Trisha, do you think we should start a spoiler-filled "Read When Finished" thread?


message 28: by Mae (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mae (maethorn) | 53 comments wow it took me forever to finish this book. I never even got to the other ones. I kept putting this one down to read something else.
I really liked it but it was so relaxing to read that I kept falling asleep reading it.
The plot was really slow but I think the last few chapters made it worth the wait. The ending was just great! (view spoiler)


message 29: by Trisha (new) - added it

Trisha | 492 comments Spoil away my friends! BE WARNED, if you read past this post, there will be plot-spoiling consequences!
Hahaha!


Doreen Petersen I absolutely loved this book and love Nathaniel Hawthrone's writing. What did everyone else think of this book?


message 31: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bob | 5009 comments Mod
Doreen wrote: "I absolutely loved this book and love Nathaniel Hawthrone's writing. What did everyone else think of this book?"

I have not yet read this, I have a copy at home, it sure helps to know how much you liked it. Hawthorne has always seemed a little intimidating.


message 32: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) I've never read this one. I read Scarlet Letter in high school and didn't care for it. I need to re-read it. I re-read Grapes of Wrath (which I didn't like in high school) and loved it. I find that re-reading certain books after you've lived longer and had more experience changes how you view different books. Thoughts?


Doreen Petersen Hawthorne was always intimidating to me too Bob in high school. Now I'm really getting back into him.
Kirsten I'm starting to get back into classics after many years. Made me remember the only English teacher I ever had whom I liked and now I finally get what she was trying to teach us.


message 34: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - rated it 2 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 9693 comments Mod
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne is our Revisit the Shelf read for November 2018.

This is the Spoiler thread.


J_BlueFlower (j_from_denmark) | 1796 comments I am about 30% into the book. Better than I anticipated to far. But I did not have any high expectation given the 3.45 rating. The playful language carries it a long way.

I like the introduction of the Daguerreotypist. Written about 11 years after the invention it seems like a bit of a sci-fi element.


message 36: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - rated it 2 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 9693 comments Mod
It has been so long since I last read this book that I am doing a reread. I'm not as far along as you J_BlueFlower.


message 37: by Anonymouse (new) - added it

Anonymouse | 42 comments I have gotten to the chapter where Judge Pyncheon comes to visit.

Though I admire Hawthorne's artistry I am nevertheless struggling with an enthusiasm deficit.

Picking up some acute psychological insights. For instance how Maule cursed the Pyncheons but the Pyncheons (through guilt and/or custom) so identified with being cursed that it became a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.


message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

Anonymouse wrote: "...but the Pyncheons (through guilt and/or custom) so identified with being cursed that it became a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy."

Early in the book, Hawthorne writes to the effect how families dwell on the negatives rather than the positives of the family. (Probably the "curse" of all families, especially around Thanksgiving!)


message 39: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - rated it 2 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 9693 comments Mod
Anonymouse wrote: "...Though I admire Hawthorne's artistry I am nevertheless struggling with an enthusiasm deficit...."

Well said for me.


Cynda (on semi-hiatus) (cynda) | 3312 comments I had to re-read The Scarlet Letter and some of his shorter works when I was in my 20s before I could start to appreciate Hawthorne. Even then, I had difficulty with The House of the Seven Gables. I think it is because my brain did not wrap aroundnthe idea of literary romance. I habe watched some YouTube videos and am all set to start tonight, just now 🐞


message 41: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - rated it 2 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 9693 comments Mod
Hawthorne considered this novel to be a romance, which in literary terms refers to a narrative, allegorical treatment of heroic, fantastic, or supernatural events. Do you think this term accurately describes the book? Why or why not?


message 42: by Anonymouse (new) - added it

Anonymouse | 42 comments Katy wrote: "Hawthorne considered this novel to be a romance, which in literary terms refers to a narrative, allegorical treatment of heroic, fantastic, or supernatural events. Do you think this term accurately..."

Narrative: check
Allegorical: mostly. Though Hepzibah seems to me too realistically drawn to be altogether an allegorical character.
Heroic events: maybe. Is Hepzibah heroic? And maybe Phoebe, just a little?
Fantastic and supernatural events: yes.

Still working on it (getting ready to start chapter XIV "Phoebe's Good Bye"), so some of my opinions might shift by the time I'm done.

So far I have been getting hints that the Maule family is not as innocent as they seemed at first.


message 43: by Katy, New School Classics (last edited Nov 09, 2018 09:15AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 9693 comments Mod
I'm getting more into the novel at this point, but have truly no idea what is going on yet.


message 44: by [deleted user] (new)

I found another definition of a romance novel: "In the strictest academic terms, a romance is a narrative genre in literature that involves a mysterious, adventurous, or spiritual a storyline where the focus is on a quest that involves bravery and strong values, not a love interest."
I haven't finished the story yet, so I am waiting to give an opinion on the subject.
Hawthorne seems to follow this philosophy in writing: why use two words when you can use twenty!


message 45: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - rated it 2 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 9693 comments Mod
Thanks for the definition Don.


Cynda (on semi-hiatus) (cynda) | 3312 comments I am feeling the romance as Don describes it. Right NIW I am in the garden with Phoebe. She is checking out the outside of the house.

Enjoyed the reference to Chaucer with the naming of the rooster "Chanticleer". A bird of a different feather.


message 47: by Anonymouse (last edited Nov 12, 2018 11:17AM) (new) - added it

Anonymouse | 42 comments Finished yesterday. Glad I read this though it was tough going for me. Sometimes it's good IMO to read outside our comfort zones to keep from getting into too much of a rut.

In his introduction to The House of the Seven Gables Gordon Tapper cited Melville's view of Hawthorne's work as tinged with "a great power of blackness."

. . . a faculty that Melville attributed to Hawthorne's preoccupation with the Calvinistic theology of his Puritan ancestors, with its unforgiving emphasis on the doctrines of innate depravity and original sin."

Yeah, what he said. Pretty grim stuff.

If any of you get a chance, look into Hawthorne's background. Much of the material in The House of the Seven Gables was borrowed from his own family history. The house itself was the home of his cousin, Susanna Ingersoll. It is open to the public (House of the Seven Gables website). Have any of you ever gone there?


message 48: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - rated it 2 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 9693 comments Mod
I am about halfway through the book. Not too happy with the way that Clifford reacts to Hepzibah -- how shallow.


message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

I finished the book yesterday. One of the reasons it is a difficult read is, Hawthorne uses sentences or even paragraphs to describe something in the storyline obliquely. I am used to novels, with concise sentences, that moves quickly along the plot line. Once I got into the rhythm of his writing, I was able to enjoy the book more; however, I did re-read some sections as I missed some points along the way.
In the chapter about Judge Pyncheon, there is a line: “But ambition is a talisman more powerful than witchcraft,” which may explain the Pyncheon’s curse.


message 50: by J_BlueFlower (last edited Nov 13, 2018 12:34AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

J_BlueFlower (j_from_denmark) | 1796 comments Ha! The very first sentence in this tread is ”This novel is not too long,” I would not have minded a little bit less long descriptions. It seems like the plot to words ratio is a bit thin.

On the other hand the showman ship of writing is an important part. My favourites are the playful descriptions of Ned Higgins (the cookies eating boy) and Hepzibah opening the store.

But the story itself... hmm..... thin? I was expecting something a bit more Gothic. Ghost, unexplained noises, haunting,.... In particular I was expecting people being daguerreotyped and ghost showing up in the pictures. I mean he introduced Daguerreotypes - at the time a new technology. Most people did not understand and many probably viewed as magic and was a bit scared of. (In Denmark we have a famous example from 1840 where Thorvaldsen (Danish sculptor) was daguerreotyped, and you can see he is making a sign with his first and little fingers intended to ward off the “evil eye”.)



My two favourite things about the book are towards the end (view spoiler)

And secondly: What does Holgrave do? Takes a picture!! It is not just that he pulls out his phone and snaps a quick one. Taking a daguerreotype is a time consuming process. The exposure time in is around one minute and after that the photo had to be developed. (Which is probably a slight plot hole because he had his equipment in his studio and not a the seven gables. It sounds like he would not leave the house).


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