Hawthorne manages to weave a tale flawlessly with nary a snarl to be found. While it took me a bit to read through its pages, it was well worth it.
Several generation of the Pyncheon family’s dirty laundry is aired and it is far from sparkly clean. An ill gained land ownership becomes the family’s curse and The House of the Seven Gables eventually reveals its history as it deteriorates from its original splendor.
The falsely accused Matthew Maule curses Colonel Pyncheon from the gallows where he has been found guilty of wizardry. The land then taken from his family will serve as the foundation for the seven gabled house and will curse the Pyncheon’s family for generations.
Hepzibah Pyncheon lives in the crumbling home, alone and destitute and is forced to open a little shop in order to provide basic necessities for herself. Her scowl does little for business, but her niece’s arrival manages to keep customers returning.
The mysterious boarder in the Pyncheon home, Mr. Holgrave is a daguerreotypist who is able to capture the true essence of his subjects, both the good and the evil.
Sunshine is brought into the Pyncheon home with the arrival of Phoebe Pyncheon. Her presence sets in motion the unraveling and eventual rebuilding of the Pyncheon clan.
Clifford Pyncheon, brother to Hepzibah is a man broken and child like. We slowly learn that the evil Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon stood silent when Clifford was falsely accused of killing his uncle.
In this republican country, amid the fluctuating waves of our social life, somebody is always at the drowning-point. The tragedy is enacted with as continual a repetition as that of a popular drama on a holiday; and, nevertheless, is felt as deeply, perhaps, as when an hereditary noble sinks below his order.
Miss Hepzibah Pyncheon sat in the oaken elbow-chair, with her hands over her face, giving way to that heavy down-sinking of the heart which most persons have experienced, when the image of hope itself seems ponderously moulded of lead, on the eve of an enterprise at once doubtful and momentous.
I find nothing so singular in life, as that everything appears to lose it s substance, the instant one actually grapples with it.
For, what other dungeon is so dark as one’s own heart! What jailer so inexorable as ones’ self!
It is a truth (and it would be a very sad one, but for the higher hopes which is suggests) that no great mistake, whether acted or endured, in our mortal sphere, is ever really set right.
My rating for The House of the Seven Gables is a 9 out of 10.
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Next up, Erskine Caldwell’s A House in the Uplands…