Thursday, October 12, 2023

Friday Focus: Bookish Memes to Start the Weekend




It's Friday . . . time to share book excerpts with:

  • Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, where bloggers share the first sentence or more of a current read, as well as initial thoughts about the sentence(s), impressions of the book, or anything else that the opening inspires.  
  • The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an eBook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.
  • First Line Friday hosted by Reading Is My SuperPower

Today I'm featuring Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese. The excerpts shared are from a hardcover version borrowed from the library.



Book Beginning/First Line:  Salem was meant to be a new beginning, a place where the sharp scent of cinnamon and tea perfumed the air with hope; a place where the colors could be safe and alive in me.


Page 56:  "I'm grateful." I try again to show that I mean to be a friend. "I'm glad to have you as my neighbors."


My thoughts:  This very imaginative and harrowing fictional account of a relationship between a young Scottish woman who emigrates to Massachusetts and Nathaniel Hawthorne, future author of The Scarlet Letter, is a realistic depiction of the power structure and plight of women and immigrants in America in the nineteenth century. 


From GoodReads:  A vivid reimagining of the woman who inspired Hester Prynne, the tragic heroine of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, and a journey into the enduring legacy of New England's witchcraft trials.

Who is the real Hester Prynne?

Isobel Gamble is a young seamstress carrying generations of secrets when she sets sail from Scotland in the early 1800s with her husband, Edward. An apothecary who has fallen under the spell of opium, his pile of debts have forced them to flee Edinburgh for a fresh start in the New World. But only days after they've arrived in Salem, Edward abruptly joins a departing ship as a medic––leaving Isobel penniless and alone in a strange country, forced to make her way by any means possible.

When she meets a young Nathaniel Hawthorne, the two are instantly drawn to each other: he is a man haunted by his ancestors, who sent innocent women to the gallows––while she is an unusually gifted needleworker, troubled by her own strange talents. As the weeks pass and Edward's safe return grows increasingly unlikely, Nathaniel and Isobel grow closer and closer. Together, they are a muse and a dark storyteller; the enchanter and the enchanted. But which is which?

In this sensuous and hypnotizing tale, a young immigrant woman grapples with our country's complicated past, and learns that America's ideas of freedom and liberty often fall short of their promise. Interwoven with Isobel and Nathaniel's story is a vivid interrogation of who gets to be a "real" American in the first half of the 19th century, a depiction of the early days of the Underground Railroad in New England, and atmospheric interstitials that capture the long history of "unusual" women being accused of witchcraft. Meticulously researched yet evocatively imagined,
Laurie Lico Albanese's Hester is a timeless tale of art, ambition, and desire that examines the roots of female creative power and the men who try to shut it down.





This Friday Focus: Bookish Memes to Start the Weekend post was originally composed and/or compiled and published by Catherine for the blog, It cannot be republished without attribution.



  1. Hmm.. sounds like a good twist on the original. Enjoy!

  2. This one looks like a good historical fiction novel with timely themes. Have a great weekend!

  3. This sounds like an interesting read. Have a wonderful day, Catherine ☕๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿงก

  4. An ominous beginning. I have Hester on my wish list, having heard such good things about it. The time period and premise really appeal to be. Have a great weekend, Catherine.

  5. Sounds like a clever bit of imaginative writing. :)

  6. I haven't come across this book before but I love the first line. For that alone I'd give this a try!

  7. This sounds like a very intriguing book! I must admit I haven't read 'The Scarlet Letter' yet, so I should probably do that first, but then this one would definitely also be on my list. I hope you have a lovely weekend :)
    Juli @ A Universe in Words