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That said, on to the review!
Despite some elements of the supernatural--mesmerism, strange deaths, and supposed processions of ghosts--The House of The Seven Gables is a far cry from the horror novel that such an old, decrepit house might suggest. In all honesty, it is much more a romance than a work of mystery and paranormal phenomena, as Hawthorne was wont to write. In its way this book is my favorite of all of Hathorne's works that I have yet read, surpassing by far the dark tones of The Scarlet Letter. This book, by contrast, has a much lighter tone. True, the subject matter tends towards the dreary and depressing, but overall the book is a much more pleasant reading experience than that other text, perhaps because the sheer weight of Puritanical beliefs has--to a point--abated by the time the chronological setting of The House of The Seven Gables comes about.
If I had to identify what I most enjoyed about the book, I'd be hard-pressed to choose between the presence of an additional story (or two) in the body of the text or the descriptions of life going on outside of the precincts of Pyncheon House. In addition to the central story, the author also presents us with a recounting of the Pyncheon's history dating back to the raising of Pyncheon house. Then, through the daguerreotypist, he transmits a story about Alice Pyncheon, whom the reader has heard much relating to a certain harpsichord and to a particular variety of flowers. However, while all this goes on, the author also treats us to views of life around Pyncheon house, with such characters as affronted housewives, a young Italian boy with a performing monkey, and disinterested workmen passing by. Together it all weaves into a convoluted canvas that shows the Pyncheons in good lights and bad, with public opinion of the family flowing and changing like the tides.
I don't often pick up authors from the classic literary canon, but it's nice to go back now and again, especially when you know that the book you're picking up is an excellent read. And The House of The Seven Gables is definitely that!
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