April 18th, 2020

Book 26 - 2018

Book 26: The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne - 224 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
A gloomy New England mansion provides the setting for this classic exploration of ancestral guilt and its expiation through the love and goodwill of succeeding generations.
Nathaniel Hawthorne drew inspiration for this story of an immorally obtained property from the role his forebears played in the 17th-century Salem witch trials. Built over an unquiet grave, the House of the Seven Gables carries a dying man's curse that blights the lives of its residents for over two centuries. Now Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon, an iron-hearted hypocrite and intellectual heir to the mansion's unscrupulous founder, is attempting to railroad a pair of his elderly relatives out of the house. Only two young people stand in his way -- a visiting country cousin and an enigmatic boarder skilled in mesmerism.
Hawthorne envisioned this family drama of evil, revenge, and resolution as a microcosm of Salem's own history as in idealistic society corrupted by greed and pride. His enduring view of the darkness at the heart of the national soul has made The House of the Seven Gables a landmark of American literature.

In 2012, I worked in the UK for three months. After my time there, I flew to the U.S. and met my parents, who'd flown over from Australia. Together, we travelled to one of our favourite cities in the world, Boston. Boston and Massachusetts hold a special place in my heart - the similarities with my home town/state of Brisbane, Queensland are notable, though Boston is by far the 'classier' of the two. My family have long harboured a love of Boston/MA sporting teams (a long cumbersome story ensues as to how that came about), and our first visit there in 2011 just confirmed what we'd suspected. If we were not so in love with our beloved Australia, Boston is where we'd live. Anyway, I digress.
When we were in Boston, we did a tour out to Salem. Our tour guides love of Dunkin' Donuts aside (a running joke in my family now!), one of the places we visited was the House of the Seven Gables! Until that trip, I hadn't actually realised it was a real place. I came away fascinated, and promptly picked up copies of The House of the Seven Gables and The Scarlet Letter - two books that are not part of the required reading in high school in Australia (I got the impression they are in the US...?). It's been six years, and I finally got around to reading the first of these two stories!
Ultimately, its a decent story that could be told in half the time. Hawthorne labours through its telling, reminding me why I often get frustrated with the classics (why use 10 words when you can use fifty?). The basic premise is that a family of ill begotten wealth battles amongst itself - the primary inheritor of said wealth, a mirror of the family's founder, tries to further screw over his relatives, the occupants of the famous 'House of the Seven Gables'. Why the house has seven gables, the one mystery I've always wondered about, never gets answered! The occupants of the House, an elderly brother and sister, a young female cousin and a young male house guest, are a motley crew, who seem to annoy each other as much as they get along. A romance ensues between the two young'uns, and two twists at the very end actually propel the story - after 180 pages of slow build! None of it is unpredictable, maybe because its 100+ years old, but its nice to hang out in New England for awhile.

26 / 50 books. 52% done!

8087 / 15000 pages. 54% done!

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