Beset by crippling headaches from a young age and endowed with a talent for drawing, Sophia is discouraged by her well-known New England family from pursuing a woman’s traditional roles. But from their first meeting, Nathaniel and Sophia begin an intense romantic relationship that despite many setbacks leads to their marriage. Together, they will cross continents, raise children, and experience all the beauty and tragedy of an exceptional partnership. Sophia’s vivid journals and her masterful paintings kindle a fire in Nathaniel, inspiring his writing. But their children’s needs and the death of loved ones steal Sophia’s energy and time for her art, fueling in her a perennial tug-of-war between fulfilling her domestic duties and pursuing her own desires.
Spanning the years from the 1830s 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. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)
I didn’t want to read The House of Hawthorne because I’m a fan of Nathaniel Hawthorne...I wanted to read it because I’m a fan of Erika Robuck. She is one of the first historical fiction writers whose novels I started enjoying. Everything about her storytelling just takes my breath away.
The House of Hawthorne is filled with beauty and vivid imagery. Erika writes like a painter paints a beautiful work of art. Her writing transported me to the 19th century. It felt if I was right by Sophia’s side during her journeys. It was almost like I was able to see the plantations in Cuba and the galleries in Italy that she visited.
I love reading a novel that’s narrated in the first person. I feel the reader is able to get inside that character’s head that much better.
The book was a bit too long for my liking, but because I was sucked in, it was hard to put down.
For those who enjoyed Erika’s previous novels, you definitely have to pick this one up. And for all those historical fiction readers, this one definitely now belongs on your list!
Thanks to Penguin Random House for the book in exchange for an honest review.
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