The Blithedale Romance
Around 250 pages
Several people approached me when I was reading this novel and asked what book it was. No one had really heard of this book, but as soon as I mentioned it was a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel, everybody would groan. I think they were all suffering from PTSD from The Scarlet Letter. Anyway, those people are not missing much from this book.
This story is set in the utopian community of Blithedale and is narrated by a poet named Coverdale. A girl named Priscilla is brought to the community and she develops a deep attachment to another woman named Zenobia. If this doesn't seem like a plausible premise for an interesting story...well...then we are in agreement.
I have previously complained that Hawthorne uses way too much description in his work. Well, when you tell a story from the POV of one of the characters, it is completely intolerable. Even in the 1850s no one describes people like Coverdale did. They mention Shakespeare several times; you would think that Hawthorne might have paid attention to Sonnet 130. Apparently, the last sentence is supposed to be a big twist? I wouldn't call it a twist so much as an obvious statement.
Another novel that should have been skipped.
Based on the commune Brook Farm.
Praised by Henry James.
UP NEXT: Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe