Today, I picked up my book with a resolute determination to make some headway.
(pretty book, isn't it?) After trifling with the introductory chapters, and feeling as though the story was trying to escape me, I decided to just buckle down and dig in. If the story wasn't going to show itself, I was going to find it.
Buckle down I did. Previously I had read more than I assumed I had - turns out, I was already halfway through. So, today I finished it. 11 or so chapters.
The plot revolves around the House of the Seven Gables and the ancestral curse said to plague all offspring of the builder thereof. Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? Despite the mysterious secrets lying undiscovered in the souls of certain characters, the house itself, dark and decaying, so like its cursed inhabitants, and the two young people, come to stay at the House, so unlike, yet "held united by the stiffened grasp of Death", I was not intrigued.
A good book pulls you in, draws you into the life of the characters, tugs at you to keep reading until the end. Sadly, I felt as though I were plowing through this book. "Keep going, there's only 5 chapters left. I can do this!" Usually when I read, I get so absorbed in the story that I lose all track of chapter breaks. Not so this time. I kept waiting to be intrigued, and it just never happened.
However, I pulled a few quotes I really like from the depressing depths of this dark drama:
"...it should be woman's office to move in the midst of practical affairs and to gild them all, the very homeliest - were it even the scouring of pots and kettles - with an atmosphere of loveliness and joy." (written in contemplation of young Phoebe Pyncheon)How idyllic! I should wish to do just such. Too bad I'm not a character in a book. We real life people don't usually pull that off so well.
"It was the Eden of a thundersmitten Adam, who had fled for refuge thither out of the same dreary and perilous wilderness into which the original Adam was expelled." (description of the gardens in which aged, troubled Clifford found solace)
I should mention that Clifford, upon gazing into Maule's Well, beheld a colorful "phantasmagoria" -shifting faces, mostly beautiful ones. Any joy in these visions was fleeting, though, for a horrible, gruesome face would always appear and ruin the splendor he found in the rippling water. (Hm. I think that was supposed to be a picture of his life. This book had lots of metaphory type stuff.)
I just had to throw that in there because I'd never heard the word phantasmagoria before and thought it was awesome.
"She knocked a third time, three regular strokes, gentle, but perfectly distinct, and with meaning in them; for, modulate it with what cautious art we will, the hand cannot help playing some tune of what we feel upon the senseless wood."
(Hepzibah Pyncheon, aflutter in alarm, knocking upon the door of her brother's chamber)
So, it is finished. I have conquered the House of the Seven Gables.
No longer shall its shadow fall over the stack of other books I've planned to read this summer. ;-)