Thursday, February 6, 2014

108. The Blithedale Romance

The Blithedale Romance
Nathaniel Hawthorne
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.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Based on the commune Brook Farm.

Praised by Henry James.

UP NEXT: Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe


  1. Ha! I haven't read any novels by Hawthorne yet, but I've read some by Henry James. According to how you've described The Blithedale Romance, it's only fitting that he praised it! Such a bore.

    1. 100% agree; reading Ulysses was such a terrible, terrible experience.

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    3. I think you have Henry James mixed with James Joyce... Bad prose can do that to a sharp reader ;)

      On all seriousness, I hope I will at least get something out of the experience of reading Ulysses. It looks like a challenging book, and at 800 pages it can be torture if there's no fun.

    4. Oh Jesus that's embarrassing.

      I did actually read Portrait of a Lady and it was merely okay.

      Good luck, hopefully it won't make you stupid like it clearly made me!!:)