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The wealthy Colonel Pyncheon covets the carpenter Mathew Maule's land. A few years later, during the witch hysteria in Salem, Maule is brought before a judge on witchcraft charges and is sentenced to death. Before his execution, Maule curses the Pyncheon family. The Colonel, undaunted, continues to build an extravagant house on Maule's property. After the house is finished The wealthy Colonel Pyncheon covets the carpenter Mathew Maule's land. A few years later, during the witch hysteria in Salem, Maule is brought before a judge on witchcraft charges and is sentenced to death. Before his execution, Maule curses the Pyncheon family. The Colonel, undaunted, continues to build an extravagant house on Maule's property. After the house is finished, however, the Colonel is found dead, and the property deed is missing. More than 200 years later, we meet the family in its decaying, gabled mansion, still haunted by the presence of dead ancestors: Hepzibah, an elderly gentlewoman fallen on hard times; her ineffectual brother, Clifford; and young Phoebe, a country maiden who cheerfully takes it upon herself to care for her two doddering relations. There's also Holgrave, a free-spirited daguerreotypist, who makes a surprising transformation into conventional respectability. Hawthorne's masterful tale describes the brooding hold of the past over the present, twisting and turning through many generations of a venerable New England family.


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The wealthy Colonel Pyncheon covets the carpenter Mathew Maule's land. A few years later, during the witch hysteria in Salem, Maule is brought before a judge on witchcraft charges and is sentenced to death. Before his execution, Maule curses the Pyncheon family. The Colonel, undaunted, continues to build an extravagant house on Maule's property. After the house is finished The wealthy Colonel Pyncheon covets the carpenter Mathew Maule's land. A few years later, during the witch hysteria in Salem, Maule is brought before a judge on witchcraft charges and is sentenced to death. Before his execution, Maule curses the Pyncheon family. The Colonel, undaunted, continues to build an extravagant house on Maule's property. After the house is finished, however, the Colonel is found dead, and the property deed is missing. More than 200 years later, we meet the family in its decaying, gabled mansion, still haunted by the presence of dead ancestors: Hepzibah, an elderly gentlewoman fallen on hard times; her ineffectual brother, Clifford; and young Phoebe, a country maiden who cheerfully takes it upon herself to care for her two doddering relations. There's also Holgrave, a free-spirited daguerreotypist, who makes a surprising transformation into conventional respectability. Hawthorne's masterful tale describes the brooding hold of the past over the present, twisting and turning through many generations of a venerable New England family.

30 review for The House of the Seven Gables, with eBook

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    OHMYFREAKIN'GAWD. Why the hell did I pick this up again? Life's too short, you say? You have 200+ other books on your 'to read' shelf and this was sucking your will to read? Give it up! You're right... all of it... and my answer is... my excuse being... because I'm freakin' stubborn. Its Hawthorne . I mean how much more New Englandy can you get? I couldn't just--- give up... I'd be betraying my countryman... Whatever. For a few years, in my younger days, I worked down the street from the House o OHMYFREAKIN'GAWD. Why the hell did I pick this up again? Life's too short, you say? You have 200+ other books on your 'to read' shelf and this was sucking your will to read? Give it up! You're right... all of it... and my answer is... my excuse being... because I'm freakin' stubborn. Its Hawthorne . I mean how much more New Englandy can you get? I couldn't just--- give up... I'd be betraying my countryman... Whatever. For a few years, in my younger days, I worked down the street from the House of the Seven Gables and I'd always get this literary stab of guilt for not having read it. I'd never fully look it in the eye, feeling the shame wash over me. Its judgmental gables peeking out at me while I'd sit by the lighthouse eating lunch. I want it all back. All those years of remorse. I could definitely put it to better use. And you know what? It's not such a bad story, really. It's got murder, witchcraft, a creepy house, a curse, a spinster and her childlike convict brother, some mystery hottie and a fair maiden. You throw in an organ grinder and some insolent chickens and you've got the making of a great short story. See there? What I did? I said 'short story.' But what Hawthorne does, and what irritates the fuck out of me, is draw out the narrative and then... draw it out some more. It gets to the point where you (read: me) throw the damn book down, cursing and feeling like you've just been scolded by your high school english teacher for not appreciating its nuances. Ugh. Double frickin' UGH. Example: Do I really need 8 pages describing the gardens? Or does he really feel he's being clever when he writes 18 pages playing out the death of one of the characters? (oops---spoiler---my bad) I get it...ha ha... yer just full o' wit there, Nate. I will say that there was one little salacious scene that had me all a twitter and thinking that I might see some girl on old decrepit man action: "On Clifford's part it was the feeling of a man naturally endowed with the liveliest sensibility to feminine influence, but who had never quaffed the cup of passionate love, and knew that it was now too late. He knew it, with the instinctive delicacy that had survived his intellectual decay. Thus, his sentiment for Phoebe, without being paternal, was not less chaste than if she had been his daughter. He was a man, it is true, and recognized her as a woman. She was his only representative of womankind. He took unfailing note of every charm that appertained to her sex, and saw the ripeness of her lips, and the virginal development of her bosom. All her little womanly ways, budding out of her like blossoms on a young fruit tree, had their effect on him, and sometimes cause his very heart to tingle with the keenest thrills of pleasure." I think Nate was dipping into Fanny Hill hoping to quaff his own cup a bit... but, I was bored and of course picked up on this. Maybe I've just read too much. Maybe I'm just expecting too much. I've said before, I grew up on Hungry Mans and the advent of the remote control. Don't pussy foot around. Give me what I want and give it to me now. Okay?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    The illustrious Pyncheon family had quite a useful reign, (but that was long ago) its founder Col.Pyncheon, a stout, merciless Puritan and able soldier, helped wipe out the scourge, the evil threat of the abominable witches, in the honorable Salem trials of 1692. For his just reward, he happened by pure accident, to take over the property of old Matthew Maule. Still, a splendid , beautiful area , the perfect place to set his building, the magnifient Seven Gables, the Colonel's new mansion, for hi The illustrious Pyncheon family had quite a useful reign, (but that was long ago) its founder Col.Pyncheon, a stout, merciless Puritan and able soldier, helped wipe out the scourge, the evil threat of the abominable witches, in the honorable Salem trials of 1692. For his just reward, he happened by pure accident, to take over the property of old Matthew Maule. Still, a splendid , beautiful area , the perfect place to set his building, the magnifient Seven Gables, the Colonel's new mansion, for his noble efforts .The wicked Wizard Maule , met his proper end, at Gallows Hill. Things do not stay the same unfortunately, the family and House of the Seven Gables have seen better days... In fact truthfully at one time, few would argue against it being ranked among the best edifices in colonial Massachusetts. That was more than 150 years ago , this building, shall we reinterate is a little run down ( a dump in reality). Hepzibah Pyncheon, an "old maid", with nevertheless a wonderful name is now all alone, the only exception a young boarder, Mr.Holgrave. A daguerreotypist, as a resident, the poor Hepzibah has to open a cent store, also to make a living what a humiliating situation for an upper class woman, from a formerly prominent family. Also visiting a relative Phoebe Pyncheon, a penniless country cousin, with all that implies, the girl has no idea why the brother of Miss Pyncheon, Clifford. returns home after 30 years, was it for some crime ? Nobody is talking and the 17- year- old- girl, doesn't ask too many questions, she is a guest after all and very grateful. Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon, a rich distinguished man, once a member of Congress, and his son traveling around Europe, somewhere, are the last male Pyncheons, not counting the unfortunate and sick Clifford, nobody does. People stay away from the strange house rumors about ghosts and unexplained deaths, are a constant source of gossip, for the dull town. The bored Clifford likes to blow soap bubbles from the second story of the mansion, one hits his haughty cousin, the distinguished gentleman on the nose.The prosperous relative now has an excuse to visit, wanting to talk to Clifford, about a vague proposition, but the nervous ex-inmate, blames the aloof magistrate for his troubles, refuses. A dark , strange, thick atmosphere engulfs the premises, the ancient crumbling, House of the Seven Gables, will some sunshine ever brighten it ? A classic novel, not as exciting as when it was first published, yet worth reading still. Over a century and a half, after being first written, many events have shocked the world, making this rather mild in comparison. Did Hawthorne's, ( author of The Scarlet Letter, a monumental work) , evil ancestors, involvement in the notorious Salem kangaroo trials, gullible adults fooled by emotional, delusional bad children , with no conscious...These killing of innocent people, haunt the great author?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Werner

    Note, March 17, 2018: I edited this again slightly, just to change the formatting of a long quotation. Note, May 14, 2016: I edited this review just now to make a slight factual correction. During the Salem witch hysteria of 1692, when real-life accused witch Sarah Good was about to hanged, she pointed at one of the witch hunters, Rev. Nathaniel Noyes, who was looking on approvingly, and shouted, "I'm no more a witch than you are, and if you murder me, God will give you blood to drink!" (an allusi Note, March 17, 2018: I edited this again slightly, just to change the formatting of a long quotation. Note, May 14, 2016: I edited this review just now to make a slight factual correction. During the Salem witch hysteria of 1692, when real-life accused witch Sarah Good was about to hanged, she pointed at one of the witch hunters, Rev. Nathaniel Noyes, who was looking on approvingly, and shouted, "I'm no more a witch than you are, and if you murder me, God will give you blood to drink!" (an allusion to Revelation 16:6). Years later, Noyes suffered a throat aneurism, and did die literally drinking his own blood --a fact that wasn't lost on the keepers of New England's traditions. Nathaniel Hawthorne was born and raised in Salem (and lived there much of his adult life), a descendant of the Judge Hathorne who was one of the judges in the witch trials, and the only one who never repented of it later. (The author added the 'w' to his own name to disassociate himself from the judge, and other ancestors who persecuted Quakers, etc.) His family heritage, and the intellectual debates taking place in the New England of his formative years over the region's inherited Calvinist orthodoxy, prompted him to give a lot of serious attention to questions of predestination, original sin, and inherited guilt. The House of the Seven Gables can be seen as his most direct literary exploration of these themes. It opens with a recap of the scene described above, but with the names (and, in the case of the "witch," the gender) changed; but it then telescopes time, so that Col. Pyncheon dies of a throat aneurism soon afterwards --on the day of the planned house-warming for the great, seven-gabled mansion he's built on the land he railroaded Matthew Maule to execution in order to steal. (That house is a real structure in Salem, and still stands today, though the Pyncheons are fictitious.) Hawthorne then skips down to his own time, while noting that the intervening generations of Pyncheons have shared their ancestor's nasty personality and, often, his mode of death; bloody aneurisms have run in the family. But not all Pyncheons share the family's legacy of greedy selfishness. Clifford, Hephzibah and Phoebe are decent people, despite being Pyncheons, because they've made their own choices in life as to what kind of people they'd become; for them, inheritance wasn't destiny, and therein lies Hawthorne's major point. Like Hawthorne himself --an Arminian Christian who repudiated the moral outrages his family once stood for-- they've exercised their free will to choose good over evil. Not everybody does that; but everybody can do it, and has a moral responsibility to do it, a view totally opposite to both Calvinist predestinarianism and modern chemical/social determinism. In his narrative voice, Hawthorne addresses Judge Pyncheon with the clear language of personal moral responsibility and choice: "Rise up, thou subtle, worldly, selfish, ironhearted hypocrite, and make thy choice whether still to be subtle, worldly, selfish, ironhearted, and hypocritical, or to tear these sins out of thy nature, though they bring the lifeblood with them! The Avenger is upon thee! Rise up, before it is too late!" Both of my Goodreads friends who've reviewed this novel consider it inferior to The Scarlet Letter. I'll concede that point; its plot doesn't have the dramatic tension of the latter (though it has some). It's not as strong in that regard as the author's less well known novels The Blithedale Romance and The Marble Faun, either. But it has its appeal nonetheless; it's perhaps the most Gothic of Hawthorne's novels, and it's message-driven without losing sight of the very real, often poignant human story it's telling. Hawthorne's ornate 19th-century diction isn't problematic to me, but will be a bane to many modern readers. That's a matter of misguided self-conditioning and prejudice in most cases, though, IMO. Contrary to what many modern readers automatically assume, expanding one's vocabulary and being able to decipher complex sentences doesn't take being born with some kind of genius-level IQ; it only takes patience, application and motivation, and I think the pay-off is worth it. Note #1: Joseph Schwartz's "Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804-1864: God and Man in New England," contained in American Classics Reconsidered: A Christian Appraisal provides an excellent treatment of Hawthorne's often misunderstood religious thought. Note #2: The 1940 movie adaptation starring Vincent Price as Clifford does not follow the novel very closely (big surprise, coming from Hollywood --NOT!) Among other things, the scriptwriters made Hephzibah his love interest rather than his sister. :-( Note #3: Though I've read this book at least twice (originally as a teen), I've never read it in the edition above. The one I own and most recently read has no supplementary material except a good short biography of Hawthorne and a brief Forward and Afterword, all by Andre Norton.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alan Fay

    This is the worst book ever written in the English language that is somehow celebrated against far superior novels from the same era, somehow earning him enough respect to have his crusty face emblazoned onto the Library of Congress. If the story were to take place in modern day Atlanta, it would be about some inbred, old money steel magnolia losing her shit up in Buckhead, and dragging her family down with her while she squanders what little remains of their inheritance on palm readers and telem This is the worst book ever written in the English language that is somehow celebrated against far superior novels from the same era, somehow earning him enough respect to have his crusty face emblazoned onto the Library of Congress. If the story were to take place in modern day Atlanta, it would be about some inbred, old money steel magnolia losing her shit up in Buckhead, and dragging her family down with her while she squanders what little remains of their inheritance on palm readers and telemarketers. Throw in the distant trailer-trash relative from Woodstock, a bum selling Cutco knives, the Gulf War Syndrome addled veteran brother, and Wayne Mason. Besides waiting for people to stop talking and describing things, the rest of the plot centers around walking around the house and hearing the characters complain about their lack of money and prestige. You take that story, rewind it about 175 years, add some baroque embellishment to every sentence you write, using the exclamation mark liberally, and you've got THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES! I always imagine Nathaniel Hawthorne as being the trust-fund baby of his time. Having bored himself on sherry and biscuits ("How exhausting"), decides to forgo taking care of his plants, and "retire to his study" to pen a novel for us. He's like the writer of today who leaves his meditation room, hops in his Mercedes-Benz to the nearest Applebee's and scrawls another "Zen and business" book on a cocktail napkin, turning 50 pages of bullshit into 198 in 14 point San Serif font that every pink bubble-faced middle manager is going to have on their office shelf by the end of the week. Nathaniel Hawthorne was that guy, in his day. Why does he get praise for this crap? I think saying that "there are dark psychological themes throughout" is a nice way of saying "having read this, I couldn't decide if I should use the hose to pipe carbon monoxide into my house or to hang myself - oh bother, there's another page." The only interpretation I have is that his contemporaries just wanted to be nice to him and gentleman-like, encouraging him every now and then but for the most part trying to ignore him in the hopes he'd find a different hobby to harp about. Fast-forward and everyone's like "Damn, he must be good!" and for lack of imagination or god-forbid, actually reading the damn book to see if it's any good, it's going to appear on every high school student's summer reading list until the end of times.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

    A clueless group here in goodreads.com made this this its book of the month read under the "Horror" genre when there is no horror in it. The author called it, instead, a "Romance" but there is no romance in it, either, except a brief declaration of love for each other of two protagonists towards the end with all its unmistakable phoniness ("How can you love a simple girl like me?" Duh, all men profess to love simple girls!). This is actually a sex book written under the atmosphere of sexual repre A clueless group here in goodreads.com made this this its book of the month read under the "Horror" genre when there is no horror in it. The author called it, instead, a "Romance" but there is no romance in it, either, except a brief declaration of love for each other of two protagonists towards the end with all its unmistakable phoniness ("How can you love a simple girl like me?" Duh, all men profess to love simple girls!). This is actually a sex book written under the atmosphere of sexual repression during the mid 19th century. There is this big, old house (with seven gables, of course) which has a dark past that can be traced back to a hundred or so years. Displayed inside is a portrait of the house's builder and original owner, Colonel Pyncheon. Its present occupants are a brother and a sister, both Pyncheons too, descendants of the Colonel, both decrepit and poor. The brother, Clifford, had apparently lost his marbles and acts, at times, like a child. They have a border, occupying one of the house's seven gables, a young, good-looking artist. Later comes for a visit (and she eventually became a occupant) another Pyncheon, a cousin of the brother and sister. She's young and pretty. And what would a story be without a villain? So we have Judge Pyncheon, another cousin: rich, powerful and a look-alike of Colonel Pyncheon in the portrait and said to be as evil as the original. Everything needed for gothic sex is here: a big, old gloomy "house"(which, in the dictionary, can mean a brothel), reminiscent of the castle in Marquis de Sade's "120 Days of Sodom"; an unattractive sex-starved character (the sister, a spinster, with a permanent scowl on her face and with a sado-masochistic name "Hepzibah"); one with an infantile taste for sex (the brother named Clifford, off in the head); the stud (the artist/border, Holgrave), a permanent fixture in all porn films; a nubile object of delectation and ready for corruption (the young lady from the country who first came for a visit and with the equally-nubile name "Phoebe"); and a villain (Judge Pyncheon). The first sex scene (symbolically only; remember this was in the 19th century when the Philippines was still firmly under Spanish rule) is where Hepzibah opened up her small store to earn her upkeep, like she is opening her legs for the first time in her life after she is forced to earn money by prostitution. Her first customer is the stud/artist. He asks her if he can assist her any further in her preparation. When Hepzibah-- "saw the young man's smile--looking so much the brighter on a thoughtful face--and heard his kindly tone, she broke first into a hysteric giggle and then began to sob. "'Ah, Mr. Holgrave,' cried she, as soon as she could speak, 'I never can go through with it! Never, never, never! I wish I were dead, and in the old family tomb, with all my forefathers! With my father, and my mother, and my sister! Yes, and with my brother, who had far better find me there than here! The world is too chill and hard--and I am too old, and too feeble, and too hopeless!'" The stud, Holgrave, however gives her words of encouragement: "'Oh, believe me, Miss Hepzibah, these feelings will not trouble you any longer, after you are once fairly in the midst of your enterprise. They are unavoidable at this moment, standing, as you do, on the outer verge of your long seclusion, and peopling the world with ugly shapes, which you will soon find to be as unreal as the giants and ogres of a child's storybook. I find nothing so singular in life as that everything appears to lose its substance the instant one actually grapples with it. So it will be with what you think so terrible.'" The exchange then continues: "'But I am a woman!' said Hepzibah, piteously. 'I was going to say a lady, but I consider that as past.' "'Well, no matter if it be past!' answered the artist, a strange gleam of half-hidden sarcasm flashing through the kindliness of his manner. 'Let it go! You are the better without it....'" For Clifford, the retard, nothing is more beautiful than Phoebe-- "He took unfailing note of every charm that appertained to her sex, and saw the ripeness of her lips, and the virginal development of her bosom." But since he is such a child, all he can do is to touch her flower and smell it-- "His feeling for flowers was very exquisite, and seemed not so much a taste as an emotion; he was fond of sitting with one in his hand, intently observing it, and looking from its petals into Phoebe's face, as if the garden flower were the sister of the household maiden. Not merely was there a delight in the flower's perfume, or pleasure in its beautiful form, and the delicacy or brightness of his hue..." With Phoebe by his side his little weapon comes alive-- "now with the lesson thoroughly by heart, he could with difficulty comprehend his little airy happiness. Frequently, there was a dim shadow of doubt in his eyes. 'Take my hand, Phoebe,' he would say, 'and pinch it hard with your little fingers! Give me a rose, that I may press it thorns, and prove myself awake by the sharp touch of pain!' Evidently, he desired this PRICK of a trifling anguish..." What about the villain Judge Pyncheon? Here he is compared with the long dead Colonel Pyncheon and the clear implication is that both were as debauch and cruel as any of Marquis de Sade's sick "heroes": "The Puritan (Colonel Pyncheon), again, an autocrat in his own household, had worn out three wives, and, merely by remorseless weight and hardness of his character in the conjugal relation, had sent them, one after another, brokenhearted, to their graves. ...The Judge had wedded but a single wife, and lost her in the third or fourth year of their marriage. There was a fable, however--for such we choose to consider it, though not impossibly typical of Judge Pynchon's marital deportment--that the lady got her death blow in the honeymoon, and never smiled again, because her husband compelled her to serve him with coffee every morning at his bedside, in token of fealty to her liege lord and master." What is this, what is this "serving him WITH coffee every morning at his bedside" like he was her liege lord and master and which was so gross as to be the equivalent of a DEATH BLOW? My lascivious readers, your guess is absolutely correct! What could be more debasing than forcing your wife to give you a blowjob in the morning while she drinks her coffee?

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    ETA: A VERY SHORT REVIEW First the book was difficult because of dense language. Then the language lightened up and I could enjoy parts. At the end it went rapidly downhill, being slapstick in style. I could have saved myself a lot of time and just written this as my review. ************************ “Halfway down a by-street of one of our New England towns stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in th ETA: A VERY SHORT REVIEW First the book was difficult because of dense language. Then the language lightened up and I could enjoy parts. At the end it went rapidly downhill, being slapstick in style. I could have saved myself a lot of time and just written this as my review. ************************ “Halfway down a by-street of one of our New England towns stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst.” Here is the house Hawthorne is speaking of: https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/the-h... It is The House of Seven Gables. It exists still today, in Salem, Massachusetts, built in 1668 by sea captain and merchant John Turner. Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) lived in Salem. His cousin, Susanna Ingersoll, was at this time the house’s owner, and Hawthorne visited her there. Hawthorne has imagined a fictional family, the Pyncheons. He has drawn a gothic story about them, their lives and this house. In the tale, Colonel Pyncheon has the house built by carpenter Matthew Maule. A legal dispute arises, deeds are lost, thereafter follow gruesome deaths and talk of the supernatural. Who has the right to live there? This information sets the stage. Only thereafter does the story really begin--two centuries later, in the 1850s.We meet five Pyncheon descendants, Hepzibah, Phoebe, Clifford, Venner and Judge Jaffrey, as well as Holgrave the daguerrotypist and Ned Higgins, a child fond of gingerbread cookies. Through flashbacks we learn about the interim years and come to meet Alice and Gervayse Pyncheon, as well as the grandson of Matthew Maule. The introductory section, the first six chapters, does not live and breathe; we are being told of previous events. The chapters serve as the background to the story that is to unfold, the story set in the 1850s. The author is our narrator, he interrupts, explains and voices his opinion on events. He is philosophical; he has a message to deliver. He is longwinded. The views expressed are at times difficult to get through—perplexing, abstruse, wordy and overblown. As the story picks up speed, humor, dialogs and lines of lyrical beauty make the prose lighter and easier to absorb. Here follow three examples of lines I like: “...and I love to watch how the day, tired as it is, lags away reluctantly, and hates to be called yesterday so soon.” “…the summer eve might be fancied as sprinkling dews and liquid moonlight.” which contrasts with “the clamor of the wind through the lonely house.” Hawthorne has a knack for creating the feeling of a place, of the pervading atmosphere. Humor revolves around the family’s chickens and that child in love with gingerbread cookies. I even found myself enjoying some of the shorter lines of philosophical bent: “A man’s bewilderment is a measure of his wisdom.” “Life is made up of marble and mud.” “Nothing gives a sadder sense of decay, than this loss or suspension of the power to deal with unaccustomed things, and to keep up with the swiftness of the passing moment.” “Ambition is a more powerful talisman than witchcraft.” Very much a Gothic novel, a sense of gloom and disaster begins to permeate the tone of the novel. A sense of impending doom builds, a doom tied to the relentless manner by which the wrongdoings of one generation inexorably shape the doings of the next. It is this that is scary. In Hawthorne’s words: “The past is but a coarse and sensual prophecy of the present and the future.” “What slaves we are to bygone times!” He asks: “Shall we never get rid of the past?” Then he remonstrates: “We are not doomed to creep on in the old ways.” Clearly, Hawthorne is saying we must break free from the past. The question is if the characters will have the strength to do this. It is this that the book asks. Many state that it is difficult to read Hawthorne’s prose. In parts it is wordy, but not in all. It is for this reason, I have included quotes. They are my proof. I grew to like the prose style, when it lightens up a bit, once the story picks up, after the tedious start. But then came the ending, which I absolutely detested. It destroyed everything for me. So damn gimmicky, so clash-bang-boom. I’d have to admit that many Gothic novels do end in such a manner, but I was mistakenly thinking—wow, here is a great Gothic novel that exhibits discernment and intelligence. Dear Hawthorne, it is not always necessary to end with a splash! (view spoiler)[Where the deed was hidden and that silly spring on the portrait and the need to clear Clifford’s name and the rush to solve everything in a jiffy, to smack on a sweet and tidy ending, all of this (hide spoiler)] made the whole book go down the drain for me. I recommend it to nobody. Read The Scarlet Letter instead. The audiobook is superbly narrated by Anthony Heald. I believe that a really good narrator can make difficult, abstruse prose intelligible. IF you decide you do want to pick this up, I definitely recommend that you listen to it. Be sure to listen to the audiobook narrated Anthony Heald. When I look back on this novel, I no longer understand how I could have liked it at all.

  7. 4 out of 5

    William2

    This narrative, published in 1850, starts with a preface by Hawthone explaining his concept of the Romance, which is to be distinguished from the Novel because it provides the writer with greater latitude to takes risks. The Novel is somehow more straightforward, more conservative, less flexible as a vehicle for experimentation. The first chapter gives us the backstory in a kind of lump sum. Most contemporary novelists probably write such a backstory but often cut it, since, lacking action and ch This narrative, published in 1850, starts with a preface by Hawthone explaining his concept of the Romance, which is to be distinguished from the Novel because it provides the writer with greater latitude to takes risks. The Novel is somehow more straightforward, more conservative, less flexible as a vehicle for experimentation. The first chapter gives us the backstory in a kind of lump sum. Most contemporary novelists probably write such a backstory but often cut it, since, lacking action and character, it can seem too schematic and impersonal. Hawthorne's backstory is perhaps no exception. But, it has the virtue of being 160 years old, and that, combined with its antiquated vocabulary, deftly wielded, combines to hook the reader. The backstory spills all the beans of this fantastic narrative, including the heinous crime, the resulting curse, the astonishing event at the housewarming--and the collective guilt that is said to course through each suceeding generation of the Pyncheon family. When we reach the action of the present day, it's a particularly low moment in the Pyncheon family's fortunes. Hepzibah, the permanently scowling seemingly sole survivor of the line, is forced to open what was at the time known as a "cent shop" in a corner of the grand though decaying house. There's nerve-wracking suspense here. Hawthorne seems to wring it from every word. His mode of storytelling is simultaneously achingly and beautifully slow. There's one scene, for example, in which he lingers over a simple breakfast. Each item seems lovingly revealed; there's a sumptuousness to the language that seems to belie the meal's simplicity. The gaze throughout smacks of the voyeuristic; as if the dead, who are no longer permitted such pleasures, were narrating. The narrative is marked by a number of oppositions in terms of imagery: gloom and sunshine, animal and spiritual, age and youth, ugliness and beauty, exhaustion and vitality. Clifford embodies many of these. He is put forth as the spoiled and decadent figure and symbol of the family's fortunes. He is obviously homosexual, something Hawthorne, working in the era he did, could only vaguely touch upon. Yet in the end he is mindful enough to turns this cliché on its head. For Clifford, it turns out, is not the "symbol" of the decaying family, but an individual, just one, from whose shoulders at the end of the book all unfair connotation seems justly lifted. Clifford has an artist's sensibility without the artistry. He is a dilettante. The Daguerrotypist, who lives beneath one of the House's gables, is referred to as "the artist." The contrast is intentional. The fellow with the so-called artistic sensibilities is not an artist at all, but one who makes his living from a simple mechanical process. Clifford, by contrast, lives for beauty. It infuses his every happy moment. Without it he is corpse-like, almost inert.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    The House of the Seven Gables begins with a preface by the author that identifies the work as a romance, not a novel. That may be the author's preference, but I think most romance fans will be disappointed if they read this book. The book is a classic by a famous American author, so it deserves to be read. Once you finish the book and look over the complete plot, you can see how romantic love has healed a 200-year family curse. Therefore, in that regard it is a romance. However, the experience o The House of the Seven Gables begins with a preface by the author that identifies the work as a romance, not a novel. That may be the author's preference, but I think most romance fans will be disappointed if they read this book. The book is a classic by a famous American author, so it deserves to be read. Once you finish the book and look over the complete plot, you can see how romantic love has healed a 200-year family curse. Therefore, in that regard it is a romance. However, the experience of reading the book is more like wondering through a dreary haunted labyrinth. I did not find it enjoyable to read. I suppose the book can be considered a parable with a message aimed at the stiff necked 19th Century New England descendants of the Puritans. They are a people who behave in proper ways, but have an ancestral history of executing their neighbors on trumped up charges of witchcraft. They are haunted by a secret guilt of association because of the actions of their ancestors. The story told by this book is about the Pyncheon family that parallels this New England story at large. The book's narrative comes as close as possible to being a ghost story while still remaining within the world of realism. I can imagine that a reader who believes in ghosts can come away from this story with the impression that it is indeed about ghosts. Likewise, another reader who doesn't believe in ghosts will say the story is about people who suspect that there may be ghosts in their lives who are intent on mischief. Either way Nathaniel Hawthorne skillfully weaves a family story filled with angst. One feature of the book that surprised me was the role of Mesmerism (today we call it hypnotism). As described in this book it appears to be occult magic. Likewise, a lot of the melancholia described in this book would today be called clinical depression. Thank goodness for the character of Phoebe in the story. Her young sunny disposition is a breath of fresh air into an otherwise dreary environment. She’s a reminder of the eternal possibility of renewal brought by young people to human society.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    4 stars for first read; 3.5 for second In late September I toured the House of the Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts. Our guide, a knowledgeable and entertainingly wry young man, spoke of two additions made to the house after the woman who bought it decided to turn it into a tourist attraction: a room to emulate Hepzibah’s little shop and a secret stairway not mentioned in the text that Clifford must’ve used to be able to suddenly appear the way he does. The latter intrigued me since I didn’t 4 stars for first read; 3.5 for second In late September I toured the House of the Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts. Our guide, a knowledgeable and entertainingly wry young man, spoke of two additions made to the house after the woman who bought it decided to turn it into a tourist attraction: a room to emulate Hepzibah’s little shop and a secret stairway not mentioned in the text that Clifford must’ve used to be able to suddenly appear the way he does. The latter intrigued me since I didn’t remember anything along those lines, so I decided upon a reread. As I got further into it, I realized only the beginning seemed familiar and I started to wonder if perhaps I hadn’t finished the book that first time, though that didn’t seem right either. Perhaps it’s just that the beginning, with its legend of the Pyncheons and the Maules, and then its description of poor Hepzibah setting up shop are still the most memorable scenes. The middle is a lengthy setting-the-stage for a rather anticlimactic denouement, completed with perfunctory explanations, some of which is apparently known of due to mesmerism. I understand why I remember liking it more the first time I read it, as at times I felt that same frisson of ‘gothic-ness’ I felt while reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Our guide had mentioned he’d read the book numerous times, adding in a hushed tone that it wasn’t all that great, apologizing when I told him I’d read it. I think I also reread this to prove him wrong, but I’m unable to do so. The main feeling I’ve come away with—that Hawthorne struggled with inherited guilt due to the actions of his ancestor, a ‘hanging’ judge presiding over the ‘witch’ trials—is what I discerned in that brilliant beginning. And what of Clifford’s mysterious appearances? There’s really only one, but it is an important one; and a bit later there’s the mention of another relative having had “secret access” to their uncle’s room: Curiosity satisfied. As I read my old paperback copy, the edges of both the front and back covers shed pieces. (My 1985 edition has a picture of the house on the front; that cover seems to have been removed from Goodreads, though it was here not too long ago.) Last night, as I settled in to finish, the back cover fell completely off the spine. And if I count in a certain way the spaces left behind from the triangles that fell from the front cover, they number seven.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    I adore this book. I recall reading it for the first time in my twenties, picking it up at random and being amazed how lively and picturesque the writing was, so different from the dreary Scarlet Letter I remembered from high school. The decline of the Pyncheon family after the curse of old man Maule, a fiercely independent man who’d staked a claim on land and a certain well which the progenitor of the Pyncheon clan, the old Puritan, desired to have for his own. Eventually he'd had Maule hung fo I adore this book. I recall reading it for the first time in my twenties, picking it up at random and being amazed how lively and picturesque the writing was, so different from the dreary Scarlet Letter I remembered from high school. The decline of the Pyncheon family after the curse of old man Maule, a fiercely independent man who’d staked a claim on land and a certain well which the progenitor of the Pyncheon clan, the old Puritan, desired to have for his own. Eventually he'd had Maule hung for a witch, so that he could come into possession of that acreage to build a fine house for his own family, but which came with a curse from the dead man. This curse played out through the generations of Pyncheons, to land in its final decline with old spinster Hepzibah, a mysterious relative and a young girl who arrives from the country, the final generation of Pyncheons to share the House of the Seven Gables. What is especially interesting about this book, besides the fine writing and the wonderful characterizations, is the framework of the novel, in which destiny is written out over the grave of some indelible wrong, touching everyone who came after--in this case, literally on the same plot of land. Hawthorne was the grandson of one of the judges at the Salem Witch Trials, and the legacy hung as heavy over him as the legacy of slavery over the writers of the Southern Gothic tradition. He gave his name an e not to share the same appellation as his ancestor. The past, Faulkner said, is not really over. It's not even past. Love the spookiness and the charm of this book, which he called a Romance rather than a tragedy, for the themes of the resilience of the weak, and the primacy of the living. A lovely book whose delights have been too long ignored.

  11. 5 out of 5

    John

    I have read and re-read this many times. “...the act of the passing generation is the germ which may and must produce good or evil fruit, in a far distant time”. Thus speaks Hawthorne in the course of his book and to a large extent this summarises the theme and plot of the story. The book is a natural progression from his previous work, The Scarlet Letter, almost an updated (by 150-200 years) sequel to it. Hawthorne began it a mere 6 months after the publication of The Scarlet Letter. Here he show I have read and re-read this many times. “...the act of the passing generation is the germ which may and must produce good or evil fruit, in a far distant time”. Thus speaks Hawthorne in the course of his book and to a large extent this summarises the theme and plot of the story. The book is a natural progression from his previous work, The Scarlet Letter, almost an updated (by 150-200 years) sequel to it. Hawthorne began it a mere 6 months after the publication of The Scarlet Letter. Here he shows what happens as the seeds of the Salem type of puritanism germinate throughout the generations, in this case through the Pyncheon family line. My relationship with this book goes back a very long way. I bought it as a boy in a village jumble sale (do they have such things any more?), determined to read it. Not surprisingly, I struggled, but with the aid of a dictionary and taking it slowly, I managed to read it through. I’ve been hooked on it ever since, returning to it often and to my beloved Nathaniel Hawthorne. As a boy I could identify with the characters who people the book and especially the reclusive Miss Hepzibah Pyncheon. She was, for me, my widowed grandmother with whom I spent a great deal of time. Like Hepzibah, she had virtually retired from the world, in her case on the early death of my grandfather. She rarely went out of doors. Her arthritis, which had painfully and cruelly deformed her limbs, would have made this difficult anyway. Like Hepzibah too, she could scowl. But as in the case of the former this was frequently misinterpreted. Both women were short sighted and lovely with it. My grandmother’s house too, whilst lacking the dimensions of Hepzibah’s, had been the family home for 3 or 4 generations. There was a shop attached to it too where my father plied his trade, the same as his father, grandfather and great grandfather before him. The idea of my grandmother crossing its threshold as Hepzibah did, in order to eke out a living selling a few sweets filled me with horror; not for snobbish reasons, after all we were a family of shopkeepers, but my grandmother was painfully shy. At the risk of over egging the pudding (no pun intended….) my grandmother had a large garden, somewhat neglected like Hepzibah’s, and here my father kept a few chickens. The book is altogether very personal for me and I have returned to it, almost my childhood home, many times. I sense it is very autobiographical for Hawthorne too, who as a young man/ adolescent shut himself up in his room for some years, possibly with a guilty secret? Hawthorne is quite particular in labelling this book a romance, rather than a novel, and this gives him lee-way for his mirage style of story telling; so we’re never quite sure whether what he tells us is sheer fantasy, fact, or a mixture of both. This romance is about sunshine and shadow, sadness and joy, laughter and tears, age and the future. The book will also focus on double standards and false values and justice, which Hawthorne is expert in examining. Here’s a taster or two: “Stay a moment if you please! Said the Judge, again beaming sunshine out of his face...” But appearances can be deceptive as, a page or so later, his expression has momentarily changed: “To know Judge Pyncheon was to see him at that moment. After such a revelation, let him smile with what sultriness he would, he could much sooner turn grapes purple or pumpkins yellow, than melt the iron-branded impression out of the beholder’s memory”. Hepzibah’s brother Clifford to his sister - “We are ghosts! We have no right amongst human beings – no right anywhere, but in this old house, which has a curse on it, and which therefore we are doomed to haunt...It is an ugly thought, that I should be frightful to my fellow-beings, and that children would cling to their mother’s gowns, at sight of me…..” I spoke of sunshine and shadow. Here, as the book nears its close, an old character, much loved by the Pyncheons, who spoke often of retiring to his “farm” (the work house) says: “But I suppose I am like a Roxbury Russet – a great deal the better, the longer I can be kept”. I guess this is much too personal to be an objective review but what the Hell! I love this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    I'm so glad you're dead, Nathaniel Hawthorne. So this is a classic horror novel in which nothing at all happens for a few hundred pages except the description of some house, an old hag selling oatmeal, and some guy who may or may not have hypnotized the other chick who's boarding there. There might be something scary but I was too busy falling asleep to notice. If Hawthorne were alive, he'd be a zombie, which I'd totally be okay with because then he could get shot in the head by zombie experts. T I'm so glad you're dead, Nathaniel Hawthorne. So this is a classic horror novel in which nothing at all happens for a few hundred pages except the description of some house, an old hag selling oatmeal, and some guy who may or may not have hypnotized the other chick who's boarding there. There might be something scary but I was too busy falling asleep to notice. If Hawthorne were alive, he'd be a zombie, which I'd totally be okay with because then he could get shot in the head by zombie experts. Take that for wasting my time, you dead bastard! One star! Read it and weep!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shaina

    Oh Nathaniel Hawthorne, I respect you, your time, your life, and your day, but reading one of your sentences in your carefully, long-winded, written stories wears me out. KO 😵 One of these days I'll make it though, Mr Hawthorne ....

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    This book dares you to read it. I hadn't thought about putting it up here, because, in fact, I have never finished it. I have the distinction of having had the book assigned to me no less than three times in various college courses, and never once read the whole thing. The problem is I do not care about a single character in this novel. A rich family is cursed because they screwed over a poor family? Great. Where's the conflict? I hate rich people, and didn't want to see them redeemed. The Daguer This book dares you to read it. I hadn't thought about putting it up here, because, in fact, I have never finished it. I have the distinction of having had the book assigned to me no less than three times in various college courses, and never once read the whole thing. The problem is I do not care about a single character in this novel. A rich family is cursed because they screwed over a poor family? Great. Where's the conflict? I hate rich people, and didn't want to see them redeemed. The Daguerrotypist? He's a creep. Phoebe. Well, she's only "half-Pyncheon" right, Hepzibah? I had no pity for anyone in this novel, didn't care that the monkey and the Organ grinder were a metaphor for capitalism, and I certainly didn't care when Phoebe and the "artist" seemed to be the new hope for the Pyncheon line. What's in a name anyway? Maybe it's just the extremely nineteenth-centuryness to the book. (Can't be helped really...)I've never been fond of too much pre 1900 stuff, but man, read this book and tell me how many times you find the word "countenance." This works with anything from the period, really. See also Turn of the Screw. Only I liked that book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jr Bacdayan

    … for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation… Exodus 20:5 It has always been a wonder for me why punishment should be as such. Why is this idea of making descendants suffer for their forefather’s mistakes so recurring in literature? Including this passage from the bible, there are countless other works which involve this sad practice; Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of Seven Gables is one of the more renowned ca … for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation… Exodus 20:5 It has always been a wonder for me why punishment should be as such. Why is this idea of making descendants suffer for their forefather’s mistakes so recurring in literature? Including this passage from the bible, there are countless other works which involve this sad practice; Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of Seven Gables is one of the more renowned cases. With the infamous line “God will give him blood to drink!” the life of Coronel Pyncheon and his descendants are tainted with darkness and gloom. But why include the innocent? Why stain the pure with blood before they even take their first breath? It may not be as obvious as such curses, but it occurred to me that even without these often thunderous pronunciations of hexes, the lives of future generations are often so greatly affected by their ancestors that such curses prove to be superfluous in the success or downfall of a lineage. If, say, an ancestor gives you the handicap of poverty, then it is more probable that you would be born in hard circumstances. Having no material advantages at all, you would have to work infinitely to improve your living conditions. Alas, if you are given the advantage of luxury, being born in a well-endowed family, then you owe your well-being to your ancestors. A descendant is almost insured of a good life having such great advantages as money and power without working for it. It is laughable how much our life is dictated by one person’s decision two or three generations before us. This common occurrence in literature of making descendants suffer for their ancestors, in my perspective, is a tool meant to accentuate the power that an ancestor holds over his lineage. It implicates its effects by showing it in a more obvious form. In direct contrast with this lineal punishment is the practice of building a great house for posterity, this is where the house of seven gables comes in. The house, signifying Colonel Pyncheon’s good intentions for posterity, shows how an ancestor can plunge his lineage into wrong thinking of their welfare. The house, it would seem, represents everything that is wrong with the dead making decisions for the living. First, the curse that it incurred. Second, considering the number of his descendants, it proved that so large a house was unnecessary for Colonel Pyncheon’s lineage considering upkeep and maintenance. Third, like the portrait, and considering their history of gloom, it serves as a reminder for all the negativity and sadness that has haunted the home through the years. Aside from these long-term decisions, another recurring point in the novel is the feud with the Mauls. People heedlessly and often without sufficient reason are tangled into bitter conflict because of some unknown spat their grandfathers had years ago. Of course, the resolution of the two clans in the end proved to be more optimistic than expected, but the said rivalry because of lineage is one practice as contemptible as pronouncing punishment unto future generations. In the end, I can only agree with Holgrave’s discourse: “… a Dead Man, if he happen to have made a will, disposes of wealth no longer his own; or, if he die intestate, it is distributed in accordance with the notions of men much longer than he. A Dead Man sits on all our judgment-seats; and living judges do but search out and repeat his decisions. We read in Dead Men’s books! We laugh at Dead Men’s jokes, and cry at Dead Men’s pathos! We are sick of Dead Men’s diseases, physical and moral, and die of the same remedies with which dead doctors killed their patients! We worship the living Deity, according to Dead Men’s forms and creeds! Whatever we seek to do, of our own free motion, a Dead Man’s icy hand obstructs us! Turn our eyes away to what point we may, a Dead Man’s white, immitigable face encounters them, and freezes our very heart! And we must be dead ourselves, before we can begin to have our proper influence on our own world, which will be then no longer our world, but the world of another generation, with which we shall have no shadow of a right to interfere.” Of course, one cannot be so naïve as to brush aside our forefather’s examples and achievements before us. We learn much by their examples and owe our comfort to them, but the daguerreotypist has a point. The living should be more accountable for decisions they make and more responsible for the changes that occur during their lifetime. That being said, we cannot discount that our ancestors will have a major role in determining whether we have our head-starts or our pits, but we should bear in mind that it is only the starting situation they influence. The rest is up to us. We can control our destiny; we have the power to do so. “For, what other dungeon is so dark as one’s own heart! What jailor is so exorable as one’s self!” Hawthorne sought to write a story which would show guilt to be a trick of the imagination. The curse of the Pyncheons and the house of seven gables at the start of the novel is treated as folklore but slowly as the book unfolds turns into something you may consider otherwise. The calamities that befall the clan and the traceable hand that the Mauls play can make you believe the said curse. But as the book ends, a scientific and realistic explanation is given. Sometimes, we put too much weight on what people say about us that we believe it and make it so of our own accord. So that our downfall is sometimes caused by our very own volition. Nobody has power over ourselves but us, what we put into our minds is our choice. Self-pity, self-depreciation, insecurity, all these are mental states; they are but pits dug up by nobody else but ourselves, by our very hands. You dictate who you are, not what people say about you. The house of seven gables is a good read, it shows certain tendencies of the human state that can be improved upon, and it exposes qualities especially regarding lineage and folklore that can be outlived. It shows that the power of the past is but a choice, whether we acknowledge its ruling power or not is a decision made by the present. As with anything else, it has it shares of faults. It gives too much faith on mesmerism and hypnotism despite its alleged aim to disprove myths and curses. Also, it did not live up to certain expectations. The first chapter promised something of an epic sweeping across generations, but the novel only focused on one generation and showed but glimpses of others. I was under the impression of something like of one hundred years of solitude; I got but barely a year. And, sometimes I am given the impression that Hawthorne distrusts his reader’s intellectual capacity. Especially with regards to the chapter entitled “Governor Pyncheon”, he expects his reader to be clueless about a very obvious fact. Of course, this might be considered as style; nevertheless I disliked the treatment on my part. Considering all elements of the book, I can still say that it is worth the time I gave it. The novel ends on a positive note and its optimism despite all its precedent darkness gives light to Hawthorne’s romanticism and virtuosity. In the end, I would like to note that should I sum up the nuggets of wisdom imparted by this book by a sentence, it would read as thus: Live by your own accord, then let others live by theirs.

  16. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    An old US colloquial house with seven gables that seem to be mocking heaven. Seven main characters. The old ugly Hepzibah Pyncheon running a candy shop to earn a living for herself and her war-torn brother Clifford Pyncheon. Her face is ugly because she has to squint to see. She needs to wear eye-glasses but she is so poor that she cannot afford to have one. So customers are few except the young adorable boy Ned Higgins who loves gingerbread cookies that he comes back again and again to the cand An old US colloquial house with seven gables that seem to be mocking heaven. Seven main characters. The old ugly Hepzibah Pyncheon running a candy shop to earn a living for herself and her war-torn brother Clifford Pyncheon. Her face is ugly because she has to squint to see. She needs to wear eye-glasses but she is so poor that she cannot afford to have one. So customers are few except the young adorable boy Ned Higgins who loves gingerbread cookies that he comes back again and again to the candy shop ignoring Hepzibah's face. Hovering in the background is the lone tenant, the daguerreotypist (old style photographer) Holgrave that stuck it up in the house for an unknown reason. Then the other characters come to this old decrepit decaying house one at a time as if Hawthorne is calling them up the stage one by one: the young beautiful Phoebe Pyncheon stepping on the old wooden porch, the cunning and greedy Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon insisting to go inside the house despite protestations from Phoebe, and the frequent visitor who lives nearby, Uncle Venner. This makes this novel remarkable: the characters. Hawthorne has this masterful skill in providing contracts to his characters by highlighting their contrasts, e.g., the ugly but good-hearted Hepzibah vs the sweet-smiling but cunning Jaffrey, the young lovely Phoebe stepping on the porch of the decrepit old house, the young adorable Ned chewing the gingerbread cookies given to him by scary lady, etc. The house with glorious past hiding a dark secret. Images that are so stark and vivid that will stay with you as you close the book. The scare here is not due to a boy and a black man being able to read other people's mind or tell what will happen next. Nor from a lady in the bath tub whose blood-smeared breasts float on the water in a bath tub. The scare here comes from realization that a man's greed that happened long time ago can have an effect to the next generations. You sow and you and also possibly your children and grandchildren reap. The scare here is about man's frailty due to money. We all know that money can be evil. And if you do not have enough of it to pay for our mounting bills, it can result to sleepless nights and can drive you and your family all crazy. For this reason, it's Hawthorne over King.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Darinda

    A classic by an American novelist. I've wanted to add more classics into my reading schedule, and recently came across this one. Unfortunately, I found it too dry and slow paced. It was very detailed and full of symbolism. One that is probably used a lot in classes to illustrate imagery and symbolism in writing, but not an especially enjoyable read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    Hawthorne is the equivalent of nudging someone and winking without actually thinking of anything interesting, risque, beautiful, or even useful. It is sad that a man with such a voluminous writing ability was seemingly devoid of any notion of what to do with it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (My full review of this book is much larger than GoodReads' word-count limitations. Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].) The CCLaP 100: In which I read 100 supposed "classics" for the first time, then write reports on whether or not I think they deserve the label Book #2: House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne The story in a nutshell: Like any good horror story, the spooky House of the Seven Gables actually tells two stories at onc (My full review of this book is much larger than GoodReads' word-count limitations. Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].) The CCLaP 100: In which I read 100 supposed "classics" for the first time, then write reports on whether or not I think they deserve the label Book #2: House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne The story in a nutshell: Like any good horror story, the spooky House of the Seven Gables actually tells two stories at once: it is simultaneously the historic tale of the cursed Pyncheon family, concurrent owners of a reputedly haunted house in Salem, Massachusetts for over two centuries now, as well as the specific tale of the most recent generation of this family, dealing with the same curse that has haunted all the Pyncheons since Puritan times. It seems that the original owner of the seven-gabled house, old Colonel Pyncheon, ended up getting a man named Maule killed as a witch in order to weasel out of the construction costs of the house itself, even deliberately knowing that the man was innocent; Maule, it seems, as a result issued an infamous curse on the Pyncheon family as he died, one that has haunted any member in those two centuries who's had anything to do with the house in question. In the meanwhile, though, another persistent rumor has been that the Pyncheon family actually owns a whole lot more land in Salem than the simple Seven Gables estate, and that if they could simply find the 200-year-old evidence then they could get the state government to retroactively reimburse them and make them rich, rich, stinkin' filthy rich; and in that respect, House of the Seven Gables is as much a morality tale as it is a horror or haunted-house one, in that any Pyncheon over the decades who takes an interest in finding this old evidence just ends up obsessed with the subject to their ultimate ruin, as surely as the supposed magical curse that also exists, along the tormented ghosts of all those cursed Pyncheons who still supposedly reside within the house's walls. Like I said, as a result the book ends up telling two stories at once, with the majority of it dedicated to the current Pyncheon family at the time of the story itself (mid-1800s): bitter spinster Hepzibah, for example, who has ended up having to open a cent-store on the first floor (basically the Victorian equivalent of a convenience store) in order to make ends meet; her elderly brother Clifford, a broken sad-sack who has just gotten out of jail after spending 30 years there for a crime he didn't commit; Judge Jaffrey, a haughty and hard old man who is thinking of running for governor, and who has become convinced that Clifford knows where the hidden Pyncheon real-estate evidence is; and the sweet-as-sunshine Young Phoebe, a rural cousin who is visiting that summer in order to help out this terminally dour family, and who is like a freakin' little rainbow compared to the rest of the family's endless thunderstorms. Combine with a lot of melodrama, a series of events that are semi-supernatural in nature, and a liberal sprinkling of backstory about the doomed Pyncheons of yore, and you have yourself one very Victorian novel indeed. The argument for it being a classic:...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

    I’ll admit that I am not a big fan of some of Hawthorne’s writing. At the beginning of the book it was slow going and hard for me to get into. But I stuck it out. The things I did like about the story were the gothic undertones. If Hawthorne had focused more on those, I might have liked the story better. I am not giving up on Hawthorne yet. Eventually I will get to the “Marbel Faun”.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    Hawthorne labels his work a Romance rather than a novel, thus giving himself permission to mix an element of the “Marvellous” into the narrative. The work itself begins with sprinkled oddities - a hint of witchcraft and necromancy, a mysterious and possibly supernatural death, the presence of a perpetual family curse, a puzzling mirror rumored to show unusual characteristics, a house itself that is personified. Hawthorne’s language is exquisite, very early 18th century-ish, almost courtly, certa Hawthorne labels his work a Romance rather than a novel, thus giving himself permission to mix an element of the “Marvellous” into the narrative. The work itself begins with sprinkled oddities - a hint of witchcraft and necromancy, a mysterious and possibly supernatural death, the presence of a perpetual family curse, a puzzling mirror rumored to show unusual characteristics, a house itself that is personified. Hawthorne’s language is exquisite, very early 18th century-ish, almost courtly, certainly highly literary and a delight to read, with scholarly language and entertaining complex syntax, altogether dated and altogether charming. I always find it interesting to read literature from the 18th and early 19th centuries, in that it often includes Classical, mythological, and literary allusions, not to say quotations in French, Latin and Greek, that the authors have every reason to presume their readership will find familiar and pertinent. How much we modern readers, for the most part, have lost, and how essentially illiterate we reveal ourselves to be when we must so rely on explanatory editorial footnotes for the routine and obvious. Near the beginning of the book, distinct contrasts are drawn between Hepzibah and Phoebe, between the old and the fresh young. In fact, the latter is presented in such a perfect and sunny way as to alert the reader that something bad will eventually develop. Clifford, apparently just released from prison after thirty years for murder, is now introduced, clearing up some of the mystery generated thus far, and his personality is different from those of the two women; he is self-absorbed, described as a Sybarite, destined to demonstrate self-centeredness, one presumes, again, the bringing ultimately of discord into the picture. The seeds are being sowed for problems to develop in the narrative; what will they be, and how will the development section proceed? A novel can be much like a piece of music, and so far themes are being introduced. And now Judge Pyncheon is added to the mix, another character clearly not to be liked nor trusted, someone how has nothing good at heart toward the rest of the extended family. Strife can be foreseen. And, indeed, as Hepzibah, Clifford, and Phoebe settled into a pattern of life of their own in the old house, the cloud on the horizon, the disruptive potential, is the Judge, and one sense that it is from him that the inevitable storm will arise. By the middle of the story, all that has been definitely established is the apparent existence of a multi-generational curse on the Pyncheon family and an antipathy between the few remaining Pyncheons, pitting Hepzibah and Clifford in their poverty against the Judge in his affluence. Where this will go and how it will resolve itself is unclear, although the reader’s sympathies have been brought to lie with the former two personages. What final role that Phoebe and the daguerreotypist will have is entirely unclear. Imbedded in the center of the novel is the tale by Horgrave, a lodger in the House, of Alice Pycheon, and his telling of it seems to advance the rapport between himself and Phoebe. At any rate, the continuing malignant sentiments of the Judge toward Clifford are revealed, or at least reinforced, since they were intimated much earlier. What had not been known, however, was that the Judge had been instrumental in Clifford’s imprisonment. All of this makes ominous Phoebe’s coming departure from the household, even though it is implied that her absence is intended to be temporary. Indeed, Horgrave himself predicts some tragic “fifth act” to the long and dismal saga of the Pyncheons; one cannot help but feel the cumulative weight of grimness beginning to gather and approach, presumably via the machinations of the Judge. Phoebe’s being out of the way will facilitate the denouement, no doubt. And now we are made aware of some incident in the Judge’s past, some apparent crime, something remaining hidden that makes him both evil and vulnerable. It is with this knowledge and background that a fateful interview between the Judge and Clifford is about to occur, Clifford being threatened with being placed in a lunatic asylum if he does not provide the Judge with the information he demands. The interview, however, never occurs, the Judge being found in the parlor stone dead while awaiting Clifford. Clifford and Hepzibah flee by railroad to heaven knows where. Finally, everything resolves itself, without the necessity of anything fantastic, nothing magical, no deus ex machina. It is a good tale, and I always enjoy leisurely 18th century writing, descriptive and philosophical.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Robert Collins

    I was very surprised recently when The Northern Echo in Darlington in Memories had heard of Hawthorn but could not name a single book by him .This embracing as got my copy free with a box of household matches which goes show free gifts can be great. I don't think the author who is long dead would been very pleased to find that his book was give away. A ghost story with love twist like lot of classic American book has been forgotten as it not been on the TV or movie for years & into day is for I was very surprised recently when The Northern Echo in Darlington in Memories had heard of Hawthorn but could not name a single book by him .This embracing as got my copy free with a box of household matches which goes show free gifts can be great. I don't think the author who is long dead would been very pleased to find that his book was give away. A ghost story with love twist like lot of classic American book has been forgotten as it not been on the TV or movie for years & into day is forgot.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. H:\bookies\not essential\Nathaniel Hawthorne - The House of Seven Gables [unabridged:] I am becoming bored stiff with the shrill voice (this is Joss audio) prattling on about the whys and wherefores and not getting ON WITH THE STORY. If it's the same shrill female who narrates the actual story I will ditch... ...Later - it IS that same glass-shattering narrator. Sorry Mr Hawthorne, but my ears will only lay a guilt trip on me if I proceed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gkc3of9

    Just a quick comment about Hawthorne's claim this is a "romance". Many posts here misunderstand the author's definition of the word romance, thinking he means the kind of book found in the romance section of the modern bookstore that includes Nora Roberts and the like. This is NOT the kind of romance the author is claiming for this novel. More closely akin to what Hawthorne means for the modern reader would be "fantasy", that is, not a story of realism, but arising from a creative liberty whic Just a quick comment about Hawthorne's claim this is a "romance". Many posts here misunderstand the author's definition of the word romance, thinking he means the kind of book found in the romance section of the modern bookstore that includes Nora Roberts and the like. This is NOT the kind of romance the author is claiming for this novel. More closely akin to what Hawthorne means for the modern reader would be "fantasy", that is, not a story of realism, but arising from a creative liberty which may dispense with realism in order to draw forth that which can only be revealed by looking through the real to something like what Wordsworth termed, "something more deeply interfused" within the real and revealed only by the imagination. Wordsworth was a "Romantic" poet. So was Keats who said, "I am certain of nothing but the truth of the imagination and the holiness of the heart's affection." So, if you read this expecting Danielle Steel and were disappointed, it wasn't the author who misled you, it was modern book publishers by limiting that section of the bookstore to a very particular kind of "Romance".

  25. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    Not going to be a favorite. A lot of words for not much plot.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ross Blocher

    This book was not on my radar until my wife and I were visiting Salem, Massachusetts, and she asked to see the eponymous House of the Seven Gables. As it turns out, Nathaniel Hawthorne did visit the house in question, but it did not have 7 gables at the time, and was probably one of a few structures that served as inspiration for the book. Regardless, the delightful tour inspired me to pick this up. Hawthorne has constructed a story with small autobiographical flourishes. His own great-great-gran This book was not on my radar until my wife and I were visiting Salem, Massachusetts, and she asked to see the eponymous House of the Seven Gables. As it turns out, Nathaniel Hawthorne did visit the house in question, but it did not have 7 gables at the time, and was probably one of a few structures that served as inspiration for the book. Regardless, the delightful tour inspired me to pick this up. Hawthorne has constructed a story with small autobiographical flourishes. His own great-great-grandfather John Hathorne was one of the judges at the Salem Witch Trial, and in The House of the Seven Gables it is the Pyncheon family who carries the burden of having executed a man for witchcraft. In this telling, however, there was indeed some witchery afoot. Matthew Maule, as he was condemned to death, cursed Judge Pyncheon to drink blood, and so he did, dying mysteriously and passing the curse down to his heirs. Every few generations, the Pyncheon/Maule rivalry replays itself, and we see it unfold again in the lives of the aging Hepzibah and Clifford Pyncheon and their young cousin Phoebe. The joy of the book is in its descriptions, and Hawthorne can take a solitary moment and revel in it at length, painting the players, environment and interior landscapes of each character in exquisite detail. Some of these descriptions, allusions and bouts of wordplay are extremely funny or clever, and I found myself highlighting quite a few. For example, a young boy keeps visiting Hepzibah's cent shop to buy large animal-shaped cookies. After he purchases a whale-shaped cookie, Hawthorne offers this hilarious reference to Job: "The great fish, reversing his experience with the prophet of Nineveh, immediately began his progress down the same red pathway of fate whither so varied a caravan had preceded him." He also pauses to offer moments of great profundity, as when describing the aged Clifford's discomfort with seeing things he's not familiar with: Nothing gives a sadder sense of decay than this loss or suspension of the power to deal with unaccustomed things, and to keep up with the swiftness of the passing moment. It can merely be a suspended animation; for, were the power actually to perish, there would be little use of immortality. We are less than ghosts, for the time being, whenever this calamity befalls us. At the same time, this depth of description means that not a lot is actually happening in the story, and it moves very slowly. Most of this occurs within the dark, dismal confines of an aging house and much of the descriptive muscle is employed to talk about death, regret, aging and forgetfulness. I enjoyed the wordplay and the wonderful vocabulary (which I also highlighted and have been sharing with my son), but warn that this book requires some patience and persistence from a modern audience. Near the end I was pleasantly surprised by a change of events that causes Clifford and Hepzibah to act rather out of character, but I won't spoil it here. Some aspects of the conclusion I also did not see coming, so hopefully this story will similarly reward you if you stick it through.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Janette

    I can see why English teachers like this book. The vocabulary alone makes it worth reading. Plus it's full of all that theme and symbolism that English teachers love to talk about. Unfortunately, Nathaniel Hawthorne liked to talk about theme and symbolism too, which makes this book feel like one long treatise on theme and symbolism. I mean, seriously, Nathaniel Hawthorne goes on and on and on and then on some more about the stuff. He doesn't just tell you once that it is a degradation that Hepzib I can see why English teachers like this book. The vocabulary alone makes it worth reading. Plus it's full of all that theme and symbolism that English teachers love to talk about. Unfortunately, Nathaniel Hawthorne liked to talk about theme and symbolism too, which makes this book feel like one long treatise on theme and symbolism. I mean, seriously, Nathaniel Hawthorne goes on and on and on and then on some more about the stuff. He doesn't just tell you once that it is a degradation that Hepzibah has to set up shop or that Judge Pyncheon is evil. He beats you over the head with it. Which makes me wonder--did Nathaniel Hawthorne think his readers were stupid? Did he think people were going to read about Judge Pyncheon threatening to put Clifford in an asylum and think, "Hmmm, I wonder if he's the villain?" What Hawthorne didn't make clear was the plot. After dragging us through so many soliloquies about human nature, greed, sins of the fathers, class decay, the benefits of trains, and apparently any other topic that crossed his mind while he was writing, he wraps up the plot so quickly and carelessly that the reader is left to wonder what in the world happened. *Spoiler Alert* Judge Pyncheon dies while threatening Clifford and we are left to believe that Clifford kills him, because after all, Clifford is kind of crazy and Hawthorne has been hinting for the last hundred pages or so that Judge Pyncheon has something to do with Clifford being sent to jail for the last thirty years. Clifford and Hepzibah flee the town and get on a train. Phoebe and Holgrave find the dead judge, but instead of assuming that Holgrave has been murdered (He has a bloody spot on his chest) by one of the fleeing pair, Holgrave tells Phoebe that he has taken a picture of the Judge (well, who wouldn’t?) and has compared it to the Judge’s picture and somehow this proves Clifford’s innocence. How you may ask? Hawthorne doesn’t tell us. Just like he doesn’t tell us why Clifford and Hepzibah return from their train ride when surely they know they will be blamed for the death of the judge. But they’re not. Hawthorn just glosses over anything else about the townsfolk’s reaction to the Judge’s death. I mean, he is found dead in a chair in the house of those he has wronged with a blood stain on his shirt, but somehow nobody seems to think foul play is involved because Clifford conveniently inherits the Judge’s wealth and they move. Um, yeah. I would maybe care about all of those themes that Hawthorne is pushing on the reader, but I can’t care about them when the plot doesn’t work.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Obsidian

    Please note that I gave this book half a star and rounded it to 1 star on Goodreads. Bah. Bah a thousand times. I have no idea why I started reading this. I think for the Halloween Book Bingo and I ended up switching it out. This thing was painful to read. I don't even know what to tell you besides if you must read this, just pace yourself since trying to force read this thing was not fun at all. At least the last 10-15 pages were just about Project Gutenberg though. I am going to complain though Please note that I gave this book half a star and rounded it to 1 star on Goodreads. Bah. Bah a thousand times. I have no idea why I started reading this. I think for the Halloween Book Bingo and I ended up switching it out. This thing was painful to read. I don't even know what to tell you besides if you must read this, just pace yourself since trying to force read this thing was not fun at all. At least the last 10-15 pages were just about Project Gutenberg though. I am going to complain though that my library does not have this as an e-book to download, I had to read it via Overdrive which means I had to either read this via computer or my cell. I am so used to downloading my books to my Kindle for IPAD this was another reason why it took me so long to finish. The long and short of it about this book is following a family and their ancestral home in New England taking place in the late 1800s. At first with describing the home and how the family (Pyncheon) came to own the land that the home was built on. At first I was intrigued since it sounded like something supernatural was taking place. But then the book jumps to the current resident of the home ( Hepzibah, say that 10 times fast) and I lost interest. There are additional characters here and there, but nothing really works. The best part of the book is when Hawthorne describes the grounds and house that sits there. Other than the house, the whole book moves at a plodding pace. We have the characters of Phoebe Pyncheon who moves in with her cousin Hepzibah and of course has all of the men falling for her. I don't know what to say really besides the fact the flow was terrible throughout. Nothing happens and there's a lot of well maybe this is haunted (the colonel's chair) but nothing is really sad for certain. I wish that the setting had come more alive for me while reading this book. I just couldn't picture things well at all and had to look up pictures of the house to get things more fixed in my mind while reading. The ending was a big shrug from me. I am so glad I can finally stop seeing this thing on my currently reading list.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mary Ronan Drew

    Decades have gone by since I've read any Hawthorne and now I'm sorry because re-reading the House of the Seven (sic) Gables has been a great pleasure. The characters are, as always in Hawthorne, remarkable, burdened with weighty meaning. Hawthorne writes like no other about guilt, redemption, and atonement. Always mysterious. The incomparable Hepzibah, the beautiful and innocent Phoebe, the puzzling daguerreotypist, the ex-con Clifford, hypocritical Uncle Jaffrey, the tragic memory of Alice, the Decades have gone by since I've read any Hawthorne and now I'm sorry because re-reading the House of the Seven (sic) Gables has been a great pleasure. The characters are, as always in Hawthorne, remarkable, burdened with weighty meaning. Hawthorne writes like no other about guilt, redemption, and atonement. Always mysterious. The incomparable Hepzibah, the beautiful and innocent Phoebe, the puzzling daguerreotypist, the ex-con Clifford, hypocritical Uncle Jaffrey, the tragic memory of Alice, the painting of the dead colonel, and the gloomy Pynchon house itself are all suffused with guilt from the past and the atmosphere oozes hints of the supernatural. I've visited the house in Salem, Massachusetts, which dates from the late 1600s, and which was in the mid-1800s when Hawthorne wrote the novel owned by relatives. As always with Hawthorne, give him a wisp of family history and he'll give you an entire world of guilt and retribution and if possible forgiveness. He built the story from a tale a cousin told him combined with the mystery of the extraordinary old house and his own, inescapable sense of culpability for the transgressions of his family during the Salem witchcraft incident. Do visit Salem, Massachusetts, if you get the chance. Chestnut Street, lined with glorious houses built in the early years of the 19th century, is sometimes called the most beautiful street in America, and I would not argue. The Essex Peabody Museum is filled with earth New England shipping and whaling lore. And try to fit in a visit to the House of the Seven (sic) Gables and Hawthorne's birthplace next door. DO NOT miss the secret staircase. Sic? The House of the Seven Gables has nine gables. Count them.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Q

    Having read Scarlet Letter in Jr High -I was surprised how much I enjoyed House of the Seven Gables. He called it a romance vs a novel; for a romance has a moral. Here the moral was the actions of past generations effect the current generation. This book is a great historical novel - of changing times in New England. The Puritanical ways are changing to new thought. the impact of the Salem Witch trials - having cast a web of strife for many - is now coming back to center. Greed and arrogance of Having read Scarlet Letter in Jr High -I was surprised how much I enjoyed House of the Seven Gables. He called it a romance vs a novel; for a romance has a moral. Here the moral was the actions of past generations effect the current generation. This book is a great historical novel - of changing times in New England. The Puritanical ways are changing to new thought. the impact of the Salem Witch trials - having cast a web of strife for many - is now coming back to center. Greed and arrogance of ancestors - having caused harm - is having it's karmic results. There is change in class consciousness too. Change of fashion too. there are new immigrants - as seen in stereotype of the organ grinder and monkey. Cliffords shows his childlike delight of the music from an upstairs window- more changes. Some of my favorite scenes are set in the garden. A garden is magical when well tended. the writings about the chickens and flowers and vegis were delightful. It gave a sense of the mundane of life then. the fish monger. the little stores arising. the ways of gossip. the way houses were built. the colonial link to England - wanting to be a LORD in Maine. Political sarcasm. galore!!! and gothic ghosts. colorful characters. scowls and maidens. and magic. A Tale of New England life - fictional - but historical non the less

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