The House of the Seven Gables

The House of the Seven Gables, ★★★✫
Nathaniel Hawthorne, written in 1850, published in 1851

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★★★★★ Not to miss, worth re-reading
★★★★ Books that surely have stayed with me.
★★★ Very enjoyable read, recommendable.
★★ Meh. Nothing remarkable.
★ Run.
The half star, ✫, would make it closer to the higher category, an in-between of sorts.

This was the title I got in the last Classics Club Spin, part of my original Classics Club list.

Hawthorne is an author I enjoy. I was surprised with his Scarlett Letters, and he delighted my daughters and myself with his Tanglewood Tales, and Wonderbook for Girls and Boys.

I wanted to read this title, but it wasn’t my high priority, that’s why I picked it among 19 other titles for the Classics Spin. They ask us to publish a list of 20 titles, and a week after, they reveal the chosen number. It’s an encouragement to read a classic from your list. In this case, it worked for me. I committed to read it before the year ended, and I did.

I can see how Hawthorne, and this title in particular, is not for everybody. You need to like this old style of writing, -baroque, I believe, pompous, elaborated-, and books that are stories with a hint of legend, this one set in New England, in the eighteen hundreds. I’d even say his language builds up the atmosphere of the book, like a tapestry with words. It’s character driven, there’s some mystery to it too, for sure, but it’s not particularly fast paced either. Personally, I do appreciate his themes, the way he carries on with the narration, and his description of inner and outer life at a time of transition. Some ladies and gentlemen are having to work, and a new business middle class is on the rise.

A good example of a gothic novel, -complete with the House being a character in its own merit, and the weather playing a part in the plot. What surprised me the most I’d say it was Hawthorne’s tenderness, and sweet humor. I also perceive a romantic view of women, children, the elderly, and love. His portrayal of the dark spots in the human soul, the contrast between goodness and evil, is quite striking.

I’m no expert in literature, but to me, Hawthorne read a bit like an American male Jane Austen counterpart in this novel. I highlighted several beautiful passages, and wrote some of them in my common place book. I’m tempted to classify this as a cult classic for those who appreciate the gothic genre and maybe some of the qualities I’ve described.

This review is deliberately short. If this book were widely read, -as other classics are-, I’d go into more detail discussing the characters and plot. If I haven’t read a classic, or any book, I truly love being surprised by it as much as possible. Drawn to reading reviews, I shoot myself in my own foot many times by coming to the book with too much knowledge. That’s a way of ruining classics. We think we know about them, and we don’t, not until we experience them ourselves. But if any of you has read it and cares to discuss anything about it, you are welcome to do so in the comments!

4 thoughts on “The House of the Seven Gables

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