The House of The Seven Gables

This is my copy of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of The Seven Gables for which I paid .50 cents about three years ago. It was only about .49 cents too much.

In a word? Boring!

It’s the only 245 page paperback that has taken me almost a week to read.

I forced myself to begin, and for awhile there, when I left an enticing comment on Les’ blog, I was enthralled. But, what could have been a fabulous ghost story ended up being just plain tedious.

In a nutshell, Colonel Pyncheon basically steals a beautiful piece of property from the Maule family, and then has Old Matthew Maule hung for witchcraft. Before Maule dies, he curses Pyncheon with these words: “God,” said the dying man, pointing his finger, with a ghastly look, at the undismayed countenance of his enemy, “God will give him blood to drink!”

Which He does. Indeed, those generations of Pyncheons who live next in the house come to all kinds of ill: mental illness, poverty, loneliness. We, the readers, must endure endless accounts of Hepzibah, her brother Clifford, their wicked rich cousin Judge Pyncheon, and the lovely cousin Phoebe who comes and enlightens everyone’s heart.

At the end, the proper title to the land is found, hidden in a hole which a member of the Maule family made while he was building the house for the Pyncheons. Everyone escapes and lives happily ever after.

The end.

Save yourself the experience of reading this book, unless you love 19th century prose and watching paint dry.

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23 thoughts on “The House of The Seven Gables”

  1. Bummer! It sounds like it could be a really good story too…I've heard this quite a bit with Hawthorne though. I've read some of his short stories and I've loved them, but the novels seem to not work! I know now to stick with the shorts!

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  2. Chris, I've never read any of his short stories. The Scarlett Letter and this one are about all I can handle right now, but I'll try on of his shorter works some day. He's so bent on the Salem witchcraft theme, which I guess I just don't get. However, he certainly nails the concept of darkness!

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  3. Chris, I liked the Scarlett Letter much better than The House of The Seven Gables. What made you put it on your TBR list, if I may ask? For me, it's just a book I thought I ought to have read if I call myself a reader.

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  4. I really liked House of the 7 Gables when I read it, but mind you, it was eons ago, I was in the hospital recuperating and I'm pretty sure I had some nice drugs.

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  5. THANK YOU! You've saved me from torturous boredom. I owe you everything I own, including my first born son. Wait. I don't have a son. Let's just say I'm forever in your debt. Hopefully, I can return the favor some day. Let's start with Moby Dick. Step away from the book! Do not attempt to read the chapter about the whale. 😉

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  6. Carrie K, if you read this book on some nice drugs I am VERY impressed! I was having a hard time going through it in my normal state of mind, but maybe some drugs would have helped. :)Les, you are so great! What if I'm keeping you from your favorite novel of all time? What if this is the choice you are so glad you stuck with for Carl's challenge? Now we'll never know. But, I'm with you about Moby Dick. I'm just going to take everyone's word for it that Starbucks was one of his mates. Or something. Moby Dick, Old Man and The Sea, they're pretty much the same book except for about 800 pages.

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  7. You certainly don't like The House of the Seven Gables! I wonder: If you were to reread it, say, seven years from now, would your opinion change? Some books just don't "speak" to us as certain times in our lives, but if we come back to them later, we hear in fresh, new ways. On the other hand, you very well may have paid 49 cents too much for this book! LOL

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  8. California Teacher Guy, it's funny how books strike as at the right time, or not, as the case may be. Have you ever read The House of The Seven Gables? I'd be interested in your opinion if you have. I'll tell you somethingn I'd like in reference to this book: visiting the real house, which still exists today, out East. Maybe that would help me gain some appreciation.

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  9. Oh, I remember SUFFERING through this one in high school. I always assumed I'd just read it when I was too young, but I honestly never could bring myself to pick it up and try it again. And your review confirms my memory of the thing. I always did get my back up when MADE to read a book, but this was even worse than usual.Although I'd take it any day over Moby Dick, which I have had to read three (3!) times. Sigh. It never got any better than the first time, either. I do have to add that I did enjoy some of his short stories (that I was also made to read – so maybe my memory of liking them more was only due to the fact that they were short!). Especially, if I recall the title correctly, "Rappaccini's Daughter."

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  10. Darla, I get my back up when I have to read something too! Right now I want to finish all the RIP II challenge books, and there are TWO from my TWO book clubs I must complete by next week. Apparently, I'll need to burn the midnight oil here.And, why, may I ask, did you read Moby Dick THREE times? That sounds overwhelming!

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  11. It was awful! The first was for AP English in high school. Can you imagine anyone less likely to get anything out of Moby Dick than a bunch of high school kids? Then for a lit survey class freshman year of college. And THEN my senior year of college I had a professor who was obsessed with the book. He'd written his dissertation on it or something. And in class he actually pontificated on it to no end, calling the whale, and I quote, "The great white phallus." I still get the giggles when I think of it. Luckily I managed to contain them in the classroom. Barely. 🙂

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  12. Oh, dear, it sounds as if your college professor had a few issues…what a riot!I think you hold a record, my dear, of reading a book you dislike more times than anyone else I know.

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  13. "A few issues" – ha! I love how you put that! And what an unenviable record to hold – just think of the wonderful books I could have read instead. Oh, well! Maybe there could have been worse? Not sure how, but you never know! 🙂

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  14. Darla, I know what's worse: an algebra book! There's a great tee shirt I saw in Signals magazine. It says, "English Major. You do the Math." I'm not an English Major, but I'm saving it for my next life.

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  15. This certainly strikes me as one of those books that I could see some people loving and others despising as you did. Your negative review actually makes me want to read the book. ;)As far as short stories go, I have read only one of Hawthorne's shorts so far but it was great. If the others are half as good then they are worth reading.

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  16. Oh, Carl, did I hit the part of us called, "If It's Bad I Want To Do It?" That is a chord within myself, anyway. Who knows, maybe you'll like it. Or, maybe someone could take a picture of you passed out from boredom and submit it to the Sinister contest. 🙂 If you do try it, I'd be interested in your thoughts.

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  17. Ha! Very funny. I was able to use the English major line at dinner tonight with a bunch of friends when we were trying to figure out how to split the bill. 🙂

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