52 Books Series. Week 11. “Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

by adidok

How is it Thursday again? And how is it that I owe my readers not one, not two, but THREE posts in my series? Oops. I fell off the writing wagon, but I am not going to let that stop me from catching up.

This book stays. Mine is this fat red hardcover, and I postponed reading it for a long time because 1. It looked long and boring. 2. I knew the storyline and it seemed dramatic and scary. 3. I thought the book is going to be heavy. Well, turns out I was wrong about all three. The book read very well, and more like a fairytale (if you can compare the subject matter to that somehow) than a real-life drama. The hardcover turned out to be very light to hold, so once I got started, I read the book within a couple of days.

While the books is typically depicted as a classic about the witch trials of Salem, to me it was more of a “how a single mom raises a child while being cast off from her community” story. As always, I could relate to someone being picked on by a church, while the pastor of it acts like a hypocrite. Since reading the volume I’ve been blessed with finding a church community that was not like that at all, so I am not going to go into a discussion about the negative feelings the book provoked in me.

My biggest attraction to the book is Salem, MA. Before I read anything about the witch trials there, I had an opportunity to visit the Peabody Essex Museum located in that city. It was hands down the most interesting museum I’ve ever been to, because it houses a real, imported antique Chinese house! Right next to the museum is a cemetery where you can find some of the oldest graves in the nation. It is probably one of the most peaceful places on earth that I’ve had a chance to visit. It’s a tiny plot of land straight in the middle of the city, but standing there envelopes you in silence, history, eeriness, and peace all at the same time. That cemetery also houses Hawthorne’s grave. I’ve gone back to the city four or five times just to wander the narrow streets and absorb the deepness of history set in its stones.

When I finally read The Scarlett Letter, I kept going back to the Salem I know in my mind and trying to place the events in the book into locations that I knew fairly well. By then I have already relocated to the west coast, so going back to Salem was not an available option. I am keeping the book in hopes that one of my kids reads it one day, at which point I would love to take them to Salem and show them the cemetery and the Chinese House as well!