Hester: A Novel by Paula Reed
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A woman returns to London, after a sojourn in The Colonies, with her precocious, and wealthy, 8-year-old daughter. After settling in with old friends, she finds herself in the midst of the political machinations of Oliver Cromwell's England.....due to a certain "gift" of "seeing into the hearts of men".....her ability to spot lies and treason, while retaining her womanly propriety..While employed as such a Judge, she meets a hunky Sir John, who is playing both ends against the middle, politically. He's also pretty much of a libertine...Life continues...Cromwell "falls" and dies. The precocious daughter matures into a "boy crazy" drama queen, ultimately landing an "impossible" match.....marriage-wise. she hies of to Germany, pregnant but "in love"....satisfied to be a "kept woman" all her life..Mother returns to The Colonies....the site of her own past "sins"
This would be a pretty good Historical Romance, for those who fancy such, if not for the overt reference to The Scarlet Letter and the character of HESTER PRYNNE.
For one thing, any woman in possession of such a 'gift", as mentioned above, would more than likely have been condemned as a Witch and dispatched without qualms, or a trial. She would never have been given a seat in Oliver's STAR CHAMBER.
The back alley skulking betwixt her and Sir John probably did occur, but people made an art of Discretion in those days.....being Puritans and all
The intrusion of modern attitudes towards boys/men and sex were pretty un-subtle and annoying
I had a difficult time making a connection between Ms Reed's Hester, and Nathaniel Hawthorne's original...though I haven't read the original SCARLET LETTER in years, I seem to recall that Hester as being more of a slow burn.
With all of the historical detail present in this book, I am surprised at the anomalies I have mentioned. I found them to be rather jarring.....and a distraction from the story Ms Reed was trying to tell..Maybe that's my fault....but if the book had just been titled HESTER without the reference..i think it would have "gone down" easier
4 stars for the story
3 stars for the delivery
3 1/2 stars total
* I got this book through the Library Thing EARLY REVIEWERS program*