THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE, by Erika Robuck, is a love story of epic proportions, between the famous author Nathaniel Hawthorne, who we’re all familiar with, and his much less known wife Sophia who was a talented artist in her own right.
This novel could have been titled THE WOMAN BEHIND THE MAN! Easily. Sophia Peabody was brought up in a home with a father who was a doctor and a strong mother who did not believe her three daughters needed to heed the traditional role of women of marriage with children, in order to have full lives. Three totally unique personalities and talents. And Sophia was a frail child who grew up to be a frail young woman. Her abundant headaches came often and affected her ability to make sense of the world around her. In those days morphine was used to control them.
As young women, Sophia and her sister Mary were sent to Cuba to live on a plantation with friends of the family. The idea was that Sophia would become healthier in a new climate. But the way of life was quite different, even shocking, to the sisters who came from New England stock. Not only was the weather a complete opposite, the plantation was all about slavery and a sometimes violent end. After a year and a half the sisters were ready to return to their northern home.
Sophia’s older sister Elizabeth first met the author Nathaniel Hawthorne, and was quite taken with him. However, once Nathaniel and Sophia set eyes upon one another, well, that was that. And then the everlasting, and one of the longest courtship’s I’ve ever encountered, began. Were Nathaniel and Sophia deeply in love? No doubt about it! But so many obstacles, one after the other…
“Spanning the years from the 1830’s to the Civil War, and moving from Massachusetts to England, Portugal, and Italy, THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE explores the tension within a famous marriage of two soulful, strong-willed people, each devoted to the other but also driven by a powerful need to explore the far reaches of their creative impulses. It is the story of a forgotten woman in history who inspired one of the greatest writers of American literature.”
Erika Robuck has certainly done her research on this project. She’s poured her heart and soul into THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE. You fill find yourself transported to the artful world that existed in this time period. You will come away from this fine novel with a unique look at the lives of the women and men just before the Civil War. And you’ll get a peek into the private lives of a famous couple and their cohorts.
I have to thank New American Library for my lovely finished hard copy of THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE.