Hester: A Novel
One needn’t read The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne to appreciate this novel based on its characters, although those of us who have read and reread the story of Hester Prynne will be delighted by this novel, which uses her as the main character.
The Scarlet Letter tells of talented seamstress Hester, who is married to an absent older man and becomes pregnant by a lover. In this retelling, the story is similar, but the author imagines Hester as a real lover in the life of author Nathanial Hawthorne. The story is set in Salem, where women were persecuted as witches and murdered. The author imagines Hawthorne tortured by a generational guilt induced by the actions of his grandfather.
The novel sometimes teeters on the verge of becoming a romance novel, but the author deftly regains her footing and delivers a complex and layered story. Like the heroine Hester Prynne, this novel’s Hester lives at the edge of civilization near a free Black family. This story delights on many levels.
|Laurie Lico Albanese
|St. Martin's Press
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