Find your next favorite audiobook

Become a member today and listen free for 30 days
The House of the Seven Gables

The House of the Seven Gables

Written by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Narrated by Donada Peters


The House of the Seven Gables

Written by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Narrated by Donada Peters

ratings:
3.5/5 (52 ratings)
Length:
10 hours
Publisher:
Released:
May 18, 2009
ISBN:
9781400180790
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

The wealthy Colonel Pyncheon covets the carpenter Mathew Maule's land. A few years later, during the witch hysteria in Salem, Maule is brought before a judge on witchcraft charges and is sentenced to death. Before his execution, Maule curses the Pyncheon family. The Colonel, undaunted, continues to build an extravagant house on Maule's property. After the house is finished, however, the Colonel is found dead, and the property deed is missing.



More than 200 years later, we meet the family in its decaying, gabled mansion, still haunted by the presence of dead ancestors: Hepzibah, an elderly gentlewoman fallen on hard times; her ineffectual brother, Clifford; and young Phoebe, a country maiden who cheerfully takes it upon herself to care for her two doddering relations. There's also Holgrave, a free-spirited daguerreotypist, who makes a surprising transformation into conventional respectability.



Hawthorne's masterful tale describes the brooding hold of the past over the present, twisting and turning through many generations of a venerable New England family.
Publisher:
Released:
May 18, 2009
ISBN:
9781400180790
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

Born in 1804, Nathaniel Hawthorne is known for his historical tales and novels about American colonial society. After publishing The Scarlet Letter in 1850, its status as an instant bestseller allowed him to earn a living as a novelist. Full of dark romanticism, psychological complexity, symbolism, and cautionary tales, his work is still popular today. He has earned a place in history as one of the most distinguished American writers of the nineteenth century.


Related to The House of the Seven Gables

Related Articles

Reviews

What people think about The House of the Seven Gables

3.7
52 ratings / 65 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    The aspect of the venerable mansion has always affected me like a human countenance, bearing the traces not merely of outward storm and sunshine, but expressive also, of the long lapse of mortal life, and accompanying vicissitudes that have passed within.Anthropomorphic from the first page, a theme of that will be revisited and augmented throughout, this is how Nathaniel Hawthorne describes the structure that can be considered the title character in his 1851 novel The House of the Seven Gables. The opening chapter is so full of Gothic dread and supernatural nuance that readers attuned to weird fiction are immediately drawn in. Hawthorne spells out the accursed nature of the House, and the foreboding undercurrent in an eerie, ominous tone. And when Maule’s curse upon Colonel Pynchon is brought to bear so quickly upon the old family patriarch, we know that this is a most powerful curse indeed, to be carried across generations to come. But that level of intensity is not sustained throughout the novel. The plot is scant, and slow to develop. But Hawthorne shows his literary skills with illuminating characterizations, most notably the portrait of the old maid Hepzibah: a remarkable insight into the clockwork of misery and fear, insecurity and pain, anxiety and misgivings inside this tragic figure; and young Phoebe, who embodies sunshine, light, life, and hope, thereby standing in stark contrast to Hepzibah (and the house itself). Hawthorne’s writing is quite wordy, and while it sometimes enables that aforementioned depth of characterization, more often it seems unnecessarily labored. Recommended as an interesting, if flawed, early effort in the annals of supernatural literature.
  • (3/5)
    What an odd little story. Nathaniel Hawthorne's second fictional foray into Puritanical New England has the frame of a story — a family curse, an unsolved mystery, a pair of lovers, a properly solemn and hauntworthy mansion — but I find the plot recedes to secondary importance next to the character sketches. These are richly drawn, with whole chapters devoted to the examination of one person's inner workings. The story is an exploration of revenge, atonement, ghosts, mystery, and money. Far in the past, there was a dispute over the land on which the Pyncheon house was built. The harsh Puritan Colonel Pyncheon used his influence to have his opponent, Matthew Maule, executed for witchcraft. Maule cursed the Pyncheon family ("God will give you blood to drink!"), and Colonel Pyncheon died alone in his study the night of the housewarming — choking on his own blood. The present-day mystery comes in with the loss of the deeds to Indian territory that would make the Pyncheons rich again; did Maule's curse destroy them, too? The current descendants of the Pyncheon line are less imposing, but no less interesting. I'll never forget Hawthorne's opening portrait of Hepzibah Pyncheon, the quintessential old maid of an old family, with all the dignity and hidden torture of poverty. She is not beautiful, is Hepzibah, and her redeeming qualities of faithfulness and compassion are tempered by others less attractive, like querulousness, weakness, and lack of imagination. She is, quite simply, human.Clifford Pyncheon, Hepzibah's older brother, is finally home after a long imprisonment for the murder of his uncle many years before. His mind is broken and he is a pathetic aesthete, loving beautiful things but twisted by the ugliness of his life's realities. He is another facet of the mystery, because the reader doesn't learn why he was imprisoned (and whether or not he committed the crime) until the very end.Into this oppressive atmosphere comes the young and lovely Phoebe, a distant cousin in the Pyncheon family tree who soon becomes indispensable to her older relations. Of Phoebe I have less to say; she is quite a winning creature on the pages of the book, but Hepzibah is by far the more memorable. Holgrave, the lodger, is another interesting character, but he too recedes behind a more flamboyantly drawn character, Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon. In Jaffrey Pyncheon the harsh and unrelenting spirit of old Colonel Pyncheon lives again, but this time under a highly respectable guise. Hawthorne spends quite a bit of time on Jaffrey, turning him this way and that, trying to pierce the inequities and deficiencies of soul that could produce such a moral monster. I found these examinations to be some of the most riveting passages of the novel. But then, Hawthorne has always been able to fascinate me with his character studies... I've actually read The Scarlet Letter both for a college assignment and then again later for pleasure (strange, I know). There's just something magnetic about his prose and how he so easily navigates the inner lives of his characters. He makes me believe in them. I have a more charitable view of the Puritans than does Hawthorne, who counted among his ancestors some who played a role in the Salem Witch trials. The Puritans are people like anyone else, and the notorious members of their tribe always seem to overshadow the Puritan men and women of true godliness and spirituality. What I have read of the Puritans' religious writings has been sterling, despite the popular image they bear of self-righteous cruelty.I'm not sure I will revisit this book; for all its atmospheric settings and unforgettable characters, it hangs together oddly somehow. Not sure why.
  • (3/5)
    I found it a bit of a slog but still worth the read. Most interesting were details or expressions that I thought wouldn't have been around in 1851. A description of a Cunard ship bringing news from Europe brought a smile to my face.
  • (4/5)
    Delightful and haunting gothic novel.
  • (3/5)
    I read Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter a few years ago and loved it, this book not so much. It has a great premise - a family haunted by the past and striking characters, but it lacked a certain something that I found so compelling in the Scarlet Letter. Worth the read and very engaging for a nineteenth-century classic, but not Hawthorne's best work.
  • (3/5)
    This is an artistic attempt at a horror story. The wording is laboriously detailed regarding pointless information. The story in some aspects is predictable. The characters are well developed and the story line is somewhat interesting. I mildly recommend this book.
  • (3/5)
    A Gothic story by New England author Nathaniel Hawthorne features the house of seven gables which is a real home in New England that was in the Hawthorne family. The story is set in the 19th century but has flashbacks back to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. The book is considered Gothic and a mild bit of horror with the dark house in disrepair and no sunlight with two old people who are as good as dead because they have no life outside of the home. The story also features death, eating blood and dying (a curse on the family) as well as ghosts, witchcraft and possible murder. There is also a bit of Gothic romance to be found. I found the flies to be quite disgusting. Interesting enough the family in this story is the Pyncheon family. The Pyncheon is a real family and were ancestors of American novelist Thomas Pynchon. Hawthorne did not mean to have this family be a real family so he did threaten to change the name but this never happened. And this from Wikipedia about the influence on Lovecraft who called Hawthorne and author of weird fiction. "The novel was an inspiration for horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft, who called it "New England's greatest contribution to weird literature" in his essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature". Seven Gables likely influenced Lovecraft's short stories "The Picture in the House", "The Shunned House" and novella The Case of Charles Dexter Ward."Rating 3.33
  • (3/5)
    It's obvious from this book that Hawthorne was a damn good writer, but that doesn't necessarily make him an equally good storyteller. To my mind this novel should've been a novella or short story. Far too much time was spent developing the five characters in the story, at the expense of any kind of narrative drive. There's some really great stuff in here, starting with the first chapter detailing the origin of the house and the fate of its owner, but then the reader has to wait until he reaches the last third of the book to get to the rest of it,. Even then, he has to wade through lengthy passages and chapters that do nothing really to push the tale to its conclusion, a conclusion which left this reader less than satisfied. Two and a half stars out of five for great writing but not-so-great story structure.
  • (4/5)
    Still a classic.
  • (4/5)
    Sympathetic portrait of XIX Century US.
  • (3/5)
    This book is pretty tedious and pretentious, but it was readable, and had a plot and fairly well-developed characters, and not too much purple prose. It's not my favorite classic, by any estimate, but it's probably worth reading.
  • (4/5)
    A spooky classic for October. This reminds me of a Shirley Jackson's 'The Haunting of Hill House' but with more to say about the human mind and situation than I remember from Hill House. The psychology that Hawthorne presents here for his characters is most impressive. No matter who the character, Hawthorne can seamlessly create an inner life: what comes with Hepzibah's solitude. The prison of the mind that comes after the incarceration of Clifford. At times I could relate to Hepzibah, Clifford and Phoebe. The ending seems to wrap a little too conveniently and perfectly for everyone, but Hawthorne's delving into so many minds was worth it. So much more here than "the wrongdoing of one generation lives into the successive ones".
  • (3/5)
    I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book when my first impression was it was going to be dark and depressing. Somehow it was still dark but the depressing elements swifted into something like an early form of mystery novel and I was left with the feeling that I liked it. If you have to read a dark gloomy setting novel you could do a lot worst than this one I think :)
  • (3/5)
    I liked Hepzibah. And Hawthorne's descriptions are vivid and pleasing to the mind's eye. Those are the only nice things I can think of to say about this book. Hawthorne's narrative is rambling and I still can't tell you what the hell the plot was of the book. Completely and utterly forgettable. This saddens me since I enjoyed The Scarlet Letter and love what short stories of his I've read.
  • (2/5)
    Two venues for mud runs happen to bear the name of the author of The House of the Seven Gables: Hawthorne Racecourse in Cicero, IL, and Hawthorne, NJ. This is perhaps what induced one LT reviewer here to write: "I read somewhere that trying to read Hawthorne is like trying to run through mud."In a rather strange coincidence, John Updike once wrote that "Reading Pynchon is like reading a very long Popeye strip, without the spinach." (Life, 61, No. 19, November 4, 1966) When you know that Hawthorne decided to make the House of the Seven Gables the dwelling of the Pyncheon family, the ancestors of Thomas Pynchon, the similarity of the two analyses is striking. I even wonder if Updike is the author of the comment on Hawthorne in my opening paragraph. I too experienced falling asleep after 3 pages of The House of the Seven Gables; spending 3 weeks to read it; being interested in the last 3 chapters only; being bored to death by the circumlocutions and the long incised sentences.But perhaps will I, for all these reasons, remember this book longer than if I had loved it. Strange, isn't it?
  • (5/5)
    Phenomenal language and characterization.
  • (5/5)
    It is often enlightening to read something once again after a few decades. I came across Merrill’s English Texts, The House of the Seven Gables, and was delighted to find more than just the original book. Published for use in schools, there are questions and topics for study after the main book as well as an amusing price list. Although we have more literature that has been added to our list of important works in the past 100 years, the questions for students show the depth of thought put into composition, style and other topics of discussion. One of my favorites is under Style where it asks the reader to state the moral of the story and to […Find the verse in the Bible and] Learn it.I particularly enjoyed the notes in the back explaining certain words and expressions, some of which may have been new ideas at the time but are obvious to anyone today. The explanation of “Jim Crow” had much more to be added in the years after 1907 but I was amazed to find that the term was once applied to gingerbread men. I found it enlightening in terms of history and in terms of understanding my own New England roots. We are often so taken with new works that we have forgotten the humor and beautiful writing of authors who create what are deservedly called classics. The style is not for everyone, since our fast-paced world today doesn’t allow for lengthy setting of scenes or taking in details. Even the lulls in the story are filled with interesting bits of historical and political observations that are relevant to current events.Since we seem to have some time at this moment in history, we could channel surf our days away, or we can take advantage of the online resources and finally get around to reading those books we have wanted to read for so long.
  • (5/5)
    Hawthorne wrote this book in the warm aura of his masterpiece The Scarlet Letter. This book dwells on the theme of whether a Puritan history - replete with its sad stories like the Salem Witch Trials - will haunt the New England culture forever or whether New England can overcome such sad austerity.

    The hope for the future lies in the characters of Phoebe and Hargrove, who end up getting married in this story. They are open to new ideas and open to learning from the past. They seek to experiment in new things like gardening while researching the past. They are Renaissance people for another era. They might not have the best education, but they are interested in learning and growing as people. They alone can free the New England mind (and mind you this book was written in the nineteenth century) from sterility and stagnation based on pride.

    It is interesting to read this classic in my current setting in the modern American South. The New England mind of the nineteenth century is a distant and foreign concept to me. A miniature picture of its norms before the Civil War is interesting. While the Southern mind was becoming more entrenched, the New England mind was figuring out new ways to grow and expand its virtue. Puritanical idealism still exists in the American South. Perhaps we need to listen to Hawthorne more to overcome our stagnation in our contemporary setting. Perhaps we need our own Hawthorne to overcome the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow in our history and so to embrace growth.
  • (3/5)
    The House of the Seven Gables is another one of those "must read" classics that has sat on my "to read" list for years. I actually read and enjoyed The Scarlet Letter in High School (and have read it a few times since then). I've read a few of Hawthorne's short stories and generally enjoyed them, though I can honestly admit to finding some of them exceedingly dry. Unfortunately, I also found Seven Gables to be a bit dry for my taste.The premise of the book sounded very promising to me. A centuries-old house haunted by ghosts of generations following greedy land grabbing and mysterious deaths/murders. An old spinster and a young girl/lady work together to try and revitalize the house and the family. The setting and the backstory work to bring the Gothic Horror genre to early America. In spite of the Gothic tone suggested by the synopsis, Hawthorne touts the story as a Romance. In fact, I found very little "Gothic Horror" or "romance" in the story. I suppose it could be deemed a "romance" in the more broad sense of romanticising an idea or an era. There were possibilities of conventional romance between the young Phoebe and the boarder staying at the house. In fact the book seemed like it tried to swing in that direction once or twice but was repressed by the situations.The book begins with the building of the home in colonial times by Colonel Pyncheon, a renown soldier who helped in the Salem witch trials and other similar events. The Colonel receives the property for his house in what some claim to be ill-founded circumstances and shortly after the home is completed, the Colonel is found dead in his study. Generations later, the story picks up with the spinster Hepzibah Pyncheon opening a penny store out of the side of the house. She has also taken on a boarder to try and bring in some income. The boarder is a mysterious daguerreotypist (a precursor/cousin vocation to photography) named Holgrave. It is suggested that Holgrave is a wizard or some other practitioner of "dark arts." A teenage cousin Phoebe Pyncheon shows up out of the blue to stay at the house and shortly afterwards Hepzibah's brother Clifford also shows up. Phoebe is naive, optimistic and innocent. Hepzibah is grizzly, reticent and gloomy. Clifford is eccentric and confusing...he seems to be mentally struggling due to some earlier trauma. Together, the three of them make for very interesting residents to the home. From the other end of town another cousin, the Judge Pyncheon, visits from time to time to try and convince Hepzibah to essentially give him the house and property and for the three of them to come and live with him. We're not told why, but Hepzibah vehemently abhors the suggestion and constantly throws the Judge out of the house with whatever insults she can come up with.The story progresses with some very wonderful descriptions of the town, the house and the inhabitants. We learn a lot of very intricate details about the furnishings of the house, the clothing of the people, the art and decorations of the area and the nearby vegetitation. We casually observe the rather mundane actions of the characters as they go through the commonplace motions of life. And yet the author keeps us at arm's length from any real action or information concerning the true tension between the characters. There are ongoing suggestions of a problematic and potentially violent history between the Judge and Clifford. There are numerous insinuations into the dark nature of Holgrave. But for page after page no action occurs to substantiate any of the rumors or bring any validity to the anxiety trying to be created.Near the end of the novel we finally do have a rather abrupt confrontation with dramatic results. The characters involved are immediately confused and unsure what to do and so the results are unexpected and impetuous. The action rambles on for a few pages more and then everything calmly resolves itself and life returns more or less to normal.Thinking about the book as coming from the mid 19th century, I can definitely appreciate the attention to detail and the very subtle nuances and slow investigation of life. As an English major, I can try to put all sorts of symbolism on the house and the characters in an effort to make the story more interesting. I do not doubt at all that Hawthorne may have had some secondary mode in mind as he laid out the characters and events of the story. I'm sure there are some compelling and valid close readings of the book. But in my initial reading I found the story overly dry thanks to a lot of heavily descriptive sequences that had some great poetic flourishes but didn't serve to create tension, action or advance any sort of plot that I found compelling. As a story, the book is bogged down with details and nuance. As a symbolic or poetic work, it feels a little too guarded or obtuse. Perhaps a second reading would help, most likely with the aid of a Hawthorne expert or some commentary. But for the time being, I'm not really interested in a second reading. The characters were slightly interesting but not compelling enough for me to want to return to them any time soon. As one of the "Greatest American Novels", I'm not entirely sure how this one meets the criteria. I can appreciate the artistry but am not compelled by the overall result.***2.5 out of 5 stars(NOTE: I will likely re-read this with a closer reading or some commentary to try and better appreciate what Hawthorne is doing here)
  • (2/5)
    This is the first book I ever read in highschool that I did not finish. I have been eyeing this book for awhile and decided to give it another shot, but this time in audio. Recently I've been enjoying relistening to the classics. The Count of Monte Cristo made by Best of 2009 list. This book, is not going to make it the Mediocre of 2010 awards. The plot was interesting, a bit of a ghost story combined with a view of colonial America. I just couldn't stomach Hawthorne's indirect style. I love the way Dickens goes off on a tangent. He throws in a subtle sense of humor with his long descriptions. But Hawthorne just seems to meander along. Am I missing something? I am proud that I finished the book - probably wouldn't have accomplished this without audio!
  • (2/5)
    This is a classic I can say I read, but don't ask me to read it again. I listened to this book for an in-person book discussion. I struggled through the whole book. I always struggle with Hawthorne's books. I do not like Hawthorne's twisted way of telling a story. Hawthorne had many dead ends when he was telling the story and it frustrated me to jump from a dead end back to the main story. The characters did not feel like "real" people to me. I was happy to finish this book and move on to a different book.
  • (5/5)
    The introduction tells us Hawthorne valued The House of Seven Gables even over The Scarlet Letter. I still prefer The Scarlet Letter, because I so love the character of Hester Prynne. But this definitely has qualities that deserve it to be thought of as in the first rank of 19th century American literature, and I greatly enjoyed the read. And indeed this tale of a family curse is, believe it or not, a lot sunnier than The Scarlet Letter.There so much that's rich here. The vocabulary, the imagery and certain scenes are burned into my memory--particularly that of Judge Pynchon seated in a certain oak chair. It would take Hitchcock or Spielberg to do justice to that scene. And poor Hepzibah and Clifford are such vivid characters--even minor secondary characters like the small urchin Ned Higgins who provides some of the humor in the story. Phoebe alas is only the usual 19th century heroine, such an angel you expect birds to weave ribbons into her hair. I found the romance fairly predictable. But there's a lot more to the book than that. I especially found interesting the theme--touched upon by both Clifford and Holgrave--of how the weight of history, ancestry, heredity, even just the stones of an old manse can crush individuals and families beneath them.
  • (4/5)
    The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel HawthorneThis is the story of the Pyncheon family that is slowly becoming extinct. We meet Hepzibah Pyncheon, poor and old, who lives alone in the family mansion. This house was built with seven gables, thus the title. Without funds Hepzibah opens a penny shop to earn money to live on. Other characters in this tale are her brother Clifford, imprisoned because of the acts of Jaffrey Pyncheon, a wealthy judge who lives in his own country manor and is determined to find an ancient deed to other Pyncheon property.When the penny shop seems to be failing the young Phoebe Pyncheon appears. She is a lovely, vivacious, and enthusiastic young woman who lives in the country and has come to visit her cousins. She enjoys running the penny store and brightens the gloomy atmosphere in the house. When Clifford returns from prison she entertains him with her charms. In addition she meets Holgrave, a young boarder in the house and romance blossoms.This story is often considered a romance but I think it is more a story about the Pyncheon family and the curse it endured. Hawthorne sets the stage by giving us an overview of how the original Pyncheon obtained the property and built the house. His actions brought about a curse from the original land owner that is to last throughout the family's existence.There are ghosts and strange occurrences in the house and we are exposed to the lives of former residents. But life improves for the current residents when another tragedy strikes the Pyncheon family, particularly the judge. Hepzibah and Clifford temporarily leave their ancestral home. It all comes to a climax as the author weaves the tale into an ending that is unexpected but makes the reader smile. Many like to look at the symbolism used to represent aspects of the human condition. I have never been certain that Hawthorne chose to approach the novel in this manner. Nevertheless I like this tale more each time I read it.
  • (3/5)
    Ok, I wanted to like this. I've never made it through a novel of Hawthorne, even though I really like his short stories. Usually I can forgive weak points in the story for the quality of writing, but this book left me cold. And it's not that it's a bad story or the writing is bad, but something about the juxtaposition of the two started making me impatient.
  • (2/5)
    I was bored to death. It felt like reading a journal, like a case study. Hawthorne really loves his adjectives, a lot of describing and less ACTION! (haha) Where's the ghosts? Where's the so-called "romance", not even a kiss! If the characters are trapped inside the HOUSE, the novel also had me trapped, it seemed to never end!!! It was too gloomy, sad, miserable and all of its synonyms!The last 3 chapters were actually bearable. Maybe because its nearing the end (hehe). Nice happy ending to a really really gloomy book.
  • (4/5)
    Albeit a tedious read, I'm respecting the fact that is a classic reflecting thedark romanticism of the period.
  • (5/5)
    It took me a really long time to get through this book, but I'm not really sure why. I enjoyed every moment of it and found the writing clever and accessible. I picked it up initially because I remembered enjoying The Scarlet Letter in highschool and wanted to revisit Hawthorne, but decided to read something I was completely unfamiliar with so that I could decide what my feelings were about his writing without being influenced by my experiences being taught it in school. I liked The House of the Seven Gables far more than I liked The Scarlet Letter, and had an excellent time getting to know the characters -- including the house itself, which functions very much like a character throughout the novel.The House of the Seven Gables is about the Pyncheon family and their family home, and mainly concerns elderly Hepzibah Pyncheon and her brother Clifford Pyncheon as they struggle against Judge Pyncheon who seeks to uncover a missing fortune. Their story is reflective of what we are told about the entire Pyncheon family history, and there are hints and connections placed around the book about their past and the infamous Pyncheon family curse.The story is suspenseful and moves along at a moderate pace, though we are given a lot of very pleasurable images of the house and the town and the smaller characters within it. Though it's a very serious book in most ways, there are instances of light-heartedness that I found very refreshing. Hawthorne's prose style is inviting and captivating. I'm excited to continue reading his work.
  • (3/5)
    The only reason I gave it three stars was the author's outstanding command of English prose. As a novel this book was insufferably boring. It took me two weeks to finish it. A work of this small size normally takes me a few days.
  • (5/5)
    the American Gothic at its finest. Utterly finest.
  • (4/5)
    I loved this book. Certainly it is wordy, heavy on description and detail, but still beautifully written.