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5.0 out of 5 stars brill, 29 May 2014
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This review is from: House of the Seven Gables (Kindle Edition)
Lovely language and a happy ending. A delightful parse of Hubris followed by Nemesis and providence tidying up the plot. Excellent!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Darkly brilliant!, 26 April 2014
By 
Aletheuon (Wales UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: House of the Seven Gables (Kindle Edition)
This is a truly marvellous novel! I had never read anything by Nathaniel Hawthorne before reading this book but I now understand why he is regarded as one of America's greatest novelists. It is a darkly Gothic and romantic book. What I love most about it is the beautiful descriptions of life in the mid nineteenth century and, above all, the wonderful psychological insight Hawthorne shows. This is a book which is built on interaction between complex and interesting characters who have the power to arouse one's sympathy. The novel is set in a gloomy New England mansion, built by a wealthy and cruel Puritan ancestor of the Pyncheon family and haunted, either supernaturally or psychologically, by guilt caused by the cruelties, fraudulent acquisitions and sudden death of the house's first owner. The house was built on ground seized from its legitimate owner, Matthew Maule, whom Colonel Pyncheon had executed for witchcraft during the Salem witch trials. Maule, according to family legend, cursed the Pyncheon family. The Colonel's portrait still hangs in the decaying house, an awful reminder of guilt and the curse, binding its residents to the past.
The house is now owned by Hepzibah Pyncheon, who is a lady, one of the last of a dying breed of aristocrats in America. Dreadfully poor, she opens a shop in one room of her house, though she is completely unsuited to shop work. Her brother Clifford arrives home after serving thirty years for murder. A wealthy relative, Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon, offers help but is refused with loathing. Phoebe, a distant relative, comes to live with them and this pretty, cheerful and loving girl soon becomes indispensable to the two vulnerable old people. There is also a mysterious young lodger, Holgrave. The story moves on grippingly to its happy ending, though the real pleasure is in the glorious prose that describes the journey to that ending.
The House of the Seven Gables was published in 1851. I did a bit of research into the author and found that there are real similarities between his family history and the story of Pyncheon family. The setting, apparently, was inspired by a gabled house in Salem belonging to an ancestor, Judge Hathorne, who had never repented of his part in the Salem Witch Trials. Nathaniel's name was also Hathorne, but he added the 'w' to distance himself from the guilty past of his own family. Fascinating!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Eloquent Reading of Hawthorne's Classic Reflections on the Book of Ecclesiastes, 14 Dec 2011
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
"'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.'
What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun?
One generation passes away, and another generation comes;
But the earth abides forever." -- Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 (NKJV)

Before commenting on the book, let me mention that I've always found it hard to get into. This time I listened to a reading by Donalda Peters and it made all the difference. Give it a try!

The Old Testament tells us that crimes can carry curses into future generations. Hawthorne examines that theme by having Colonel Pyncheon acquire the property of one Mathew Maule through Maule being found guilty of witchcraft in colonial Salem, Massachusetts. On the land was built the House of Seven Gables, and the consequences of the original action certainly seem to singe and tinge the current generation in a variety of ways. Rather than make this just a Biblical tale, Hawthorne beautifully investigates the questions of nature versus nurture in determining character and what choices are made.

Much of the story is told through the use of extended irony of the sort that's found in the book of Ecclesiastes. It's very well written and compelling.

Those who don't like dark stories should realize that there's a special beauty in certain kinds of darkness. And, too, weeping may endure for a night, but joy can come in the morning. Love can conquer quite a lot.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A enduring novel of crime and retribution, 8 Nov 2005
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
150 years ago, on the site of the house of the old Pyncheon family in Providence, New England, lived one Mathew Maule in a log-built hut who was executed for the crime of witchcraft. Before dying, Maule uttered a prophecy to Colonel Pyncheon: "God will give him blood to drink."
Villagers could not understand that Pyncheon wanted to build his house over the unquiet grave of the dead wizard Maule and why he should prefer this site that had already been accursed in all the vastness of New England. At any rate the house was built in the grotesqueness of Gothic fancy with seven gables pointing sharply to the sky. On the day of the ceremony of consecration of the house, Colonel Pyncheon suddenly died and some said that Maule's prophecy could be heard throughout the house spoken in a loud voice...
From father to son, the family clung to the ancestral house with tenacity. Bu Mathew Maule's prophecy seems to have planted a heavy footstep on the conscience of the Pyncheons as though they committed again the guilt of their ancestor thus inheriting a great misfortune.
An impressive novel in which an old house itself is the major character. The story is filled with contrasts and oppositions between the dark and gloomy interior of the house and the bright and sunlit exterior. Shadow is the atmosphere of the invisible world of evil, of the past hidden in the recesses of the old mansion. As one follows the lives of Hepzibah, Phoebe and Clifford, one realises that the human fates of the present times are closely linked to the web of the past.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The gloomy dignity of an inherited curse, 15 Sep 2007
By 
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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In Hawthorne's times, wealth and power were vested in landownership.
In this book, a conflict about landownership is solved in favour of a member of the powerful by incriminating of witchcraft and executing the poor owner of a hut. `Clergymen, judges, statesmen stood in the inner circle round about the gallows loudest to applaud the work of blood.'
But the innocent victim utters a prophecy on the scaffold: `God would give them blood to drink.'
The wrongdoing becomes a curse for all generations to come. They will be `slaves of bygone times.'

The House of the Seven Gables, the expression of that odious Past, stands for `what we call real estate - the solid ground to build a house on it - is the broad foundation on which nearly all the guilt of the world rests.'
One of the main characters, the Judge, represents the respectability of Puritanism. But he is in fact a selfish, iron-hearted hypocrite, greedy of wealth. He is a member of the schemers: `practiced politicians skilled to adjust those measures which steal the people the power of choosing its own rulers.'
As in `The Scarlet Letter', Nathaniel Hawthorne exposes in this book forcefully the Phariseism of the Puritans and the powerful. It culminates in a very surprising and highly dramatic end.

Not to be missed.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic reading, 24 July 2013
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This review is from: House of the Seven Gables (Kindle Edition)
The book itself is heavy going in places but, having visited where the book is set i found it a lot easier to get into compared to others who have read it. Worth trying especially as it's a free download.
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6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars True depth of understanding required., 25 Mar 1999
By A Customer
If you want a fast paced action thriller, then rent a movie. This book has depth and meaning that only the "true" classics have. If you're into thinking for yourself and seeing a wonderful story unfold in your mind then this book is for you. And by the way, this can be understood by teenagers- I was 19 when I read it. I think the awful reviews are written by people with a lack of character, or perhaps maturity.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality, 27 Nov 2013
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A gift for my auntie, she was very happy with it. A reasonable price, good quality and reasonable postage x
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