I present to you the final installment of my books about books project. Obviously, I may own more and read more some day, but here is the end of it as a project.
For the past couple of days, I’ve been reading Hester: The Missing Years of The Scarlet Letter by Paula Reed. The title is fairly self explanatory, so you already know what this book is about. The extension of Hester’s story is equal parts a study of guilt and sin and historical fiction about the reign and fall of Oliver Cromwell. First person narration was a really great choice for this novel because the reader gets to know Hester in a way they desperately wanted to in Hawthorne’s original story.
One of the coolest things about the story is that it kept the supernatural vibes from The Scarlet Letter by giving Hester the ability to see people’s sins. I’ll let you read the story to find more about that. Just know that it’s nifty.
I was interested to see Hester angry at Arthur Dimmesdale. I understand that she loved him and was stronger than him, but he was still a crappy chicken of a man; she should have been at least a little angry in the original story. This book gives you the complexity of emotions that Hester goes through instead of just presenting her from the outside.
This book presents Hester as a strong woman who is comfortable with herself and her choices. Right at the beginning, she states, “So I have made my choice: honesty above modesty. I am untransformed.” That sentiment remains throughout the novel, and Hester makes a pretty fantastic life for herself and Pearl away from New England. Unfortunately, this strength and lack of regret makes the ending hard to swallow; in my opinion, the book doesn’t explain well enough why Hester chooses to return to America. Of course, the author is stuck with Hawthorne’s ending, so it is easy to forgive her.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I will gladly read it again along with The Scarlet Letter.