Value: Free at the library, around a dollar on the kindle, and a couple dollars for a paperback.
Readers: Talented writer in the 1800’s requires those who have a good grasp of reading. The language is not overly complicated allowing someone with a 10th or 11th grade reading level to be able to enjoy the text.
Summary: The book itself is quite small. The story hovers around the love of Hester Prynne and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. These two made love and Hester became pregnant. Because of the times and highly intolerant religious leaders the punishment for adultery was extremely harsh. Hester was married to a man when she had the child with her lover. She is sentenced to a lifetime of having the scarlet letter on her breast which is a red A which she had to have at all times on her shirt. This of course forces Hester to live as an outcast. Dimmesdale who was her pastor at the time does not admit to being the father of Hester’s child therefore forcing Hester to suffer the punishment alone.
Positive: The characters in this book are believable. You walk every day with Hester and feel the pain of the punishment which she feels. Since the characters are enjoyable you also get to enjoy the life changing alterations which Hester and the other characters go through in the book. From the very beginning you feel sorry for the protagonist. She will suffer in the first chapter more than the majority of people in their lifetime. Not only is she forced to suffer social humiliation, but her new born child is forced to suffer as well. The antagonist which is Hester’s husband also goes through a massive change. You will first see him as a victim of Hester, but as you see how easily hate and vengeance can occupy someone’s entire being the pity for him fades and loathing is filled in its place. Overall this book is a masterpiece of 1800’s society in America. I found it interesting that Hawthorne’s grandfather was a magistrate on the Witchcraft trials in Salem.
Negative: There is very little wrong in this book. From start to finish you are sucked in. The main issue I had with this book is the length. The book is just over 200 pages and for such an in depth story could have filled many more pages which would have been wonderful. The ending in particular could have been expanded greatly.
Writing: Hawthorne’s writing should be looked to when an author is attempting to find their voice. He paints wonderful pictures and has such a grasp of the human mind you will be left in awe. One thing I find that authors do is over complicate their writing intending on forcing the reader to slow. Hawthorne did not do this once. With his writing you won’t get lost or have no idea what had happened.
Quote: “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” Nathaniel Hawthorne
Final Thought: The majority of these old books I read simply because the authors are praised by our literary society and I want to see for myself what they bring to the table. Most of the time the writing is good, but not nearly as good as people have made them out to be. I found Nathaniel Hawthorne to be one of the most interesting authors I have ever experienced. He lived in such an interesting period in America’s history and gives the reader such insight to the times. If you have not read this book then I recommend getting out there and buying it for your collection.
My Novel Update: I must say that I am very excited. I have just finished proofreading my novel and I am now in the editing phase. I will of course let you know on this blog when my book goes on amazon for sale. Right now I am thinking of only charging $0.99. It is a full novel pushing well over 50k words.