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1.29.2016

Book Report - The Scarlet Letter

Amazingly, I have yet to read any books so far this year. I wasn't kidding when I said I was burnt out from my Reading Challenge (see here). I still have plenty of books to talk about that I read last year though, so let's get started!

Allow me to transport you all back to your high school assigned reading days. Let's talk about The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Set in 1642 Puritan Boston, a young woman, Hester Prynne, and her illegitimate child, Pearl, are publicly subjected to the scorn and ridicule of their town on a daily basis. Hester refuses to name the child's father, and bears the full punishment of their joint sin alone; while the father of her child is tormented by his guilt and shame in secret.

I first attempted reading The Scarlet Letter in high school, but I'm pretty sure I just skimmed it then, never actually finished, and there may have been Cliff Notes involved. Despite the interesting story line within, his style of writing just did not appeal to me at all, .

So, how did it go reading it as an adult?

Pretty much the same, hah! I did actually read it this time, and read it all; but it's still not a style of writing I enjoy. I often found myself reading without really comprehending anything. I was constantly starting chapters over again to get myself back on track with the story. Hawthorne is a very detailed writer, so there are a lot of long, wordy passages about settings and such that for me, really interrupt the momentum of the story. I actually did break out the Cliff Notes again to try and really understand the point of all these wordy passages I was constantly encountering. I figured if I was actually putting in the effort to read it, then it I should really do all I could to try and understand it as well.

Eventually, I did start to get the rhythm of his writing, and I reached a point where it was much easier for me to follow. The parts of the novel where the characters interacted directly, I even actually quite enjoyed. Their dialogues and inner monologues were just so much easier to understand then other parts of the story, and I sped through those sections quickly. Hester has such strength and a quiet grace about her; and she is fully deserving of her place as one of the greatest literary heroines of all time.

Basically, if you stick with it and put in the work, the story pays off. I don't think it will ever be on my list of favorite books of all time, but it's a classic for a reason. There's a great story hidden within, but it will be up to you to dig it out.

P.S. The Scarlet Letter checked off, "A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't" on my Pop Sugar 2015 Reading Challenge.

P.P.S. While I was painstakingly making my way through this, Bill casually mentioned that Nathanial Hawthorne is probably his favorite author. What-the-what? How did I go this long into our relationship without ever knowing this? This now totally explains the copy of The House of the Seven Gables sitting on our bookshelf.

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