Synopses & Reviews
On July 28, 1851, Nathaniel Hawthorne's wife Sophia and daughters Una and Rose left their house in Western Massachusetts to visit relatives near Boston. Hawthorne and his five-year-old son Julian stayed behind. How father and son got along over the next three weeks is the subject of this tender and funny extract from Hawthorne's notebooks.
"At about six o'clock I looked over the edge of my bed and saw that Julian was awake, peeping sideways at me." Each day starts early and is mostly given over to swimming and skipping stones, berry-picking and subduing armies of thistles. There are lots of questions ("It really does seem as if he has baited me with more questions, references, and observations, than mortal father ought to be expected to endure"), a visit to a Shaker community, domestic crises concerning a pet rabbit, and some poignant moments of loneliness ("I went to bed at about nine and longed for Phoebe"). And one evening Mr. Herman Melville comes by to enjoy a late-night discussion of eternity over cigars.
With an introduction by Paul Auster that paints a beautifully observed, intimate picture of the Hawthornes at home, this little-known, true-life story by a great American writer emerges from obscurity to shine a delightful light upon family lifethen and now.
"The journal is a tiny classic of parental writing about children." Booklist
"[C]harming....Unusual evidence, if any were needed, that a writer does indeed need a room of his (or her) own." Publishers Weekly
"Until Twain, no one in American literature other than Hawthorne imagined children. This little account is pure evidence of Hawthorne's special genius. And Paul Auster's brilliant introduction tells us how Hawthorne knew what he knew and, more interestingly, why. It is Auster and Hawthorne at their best precise, highly intelligent, and utterly entranced." Russell Banks
"Paul Auster's charming introduction helps to turn Hawthorne from a remote classic into a fresh and contemporary human voice. This is a delightful book." Andrew Delbanco
In July of 1851, Nathaniel Hawthorne's wife and daughters took a trip to visit relatives. How Hawthorne and his five-year-old son Julian managed in their absence is the subject of this tender and funny excerpt from Hawthorne's notebooks. Each day is spent swimming, skipping stones, picking berries, and subduing armies of thistles. There are lots of questions ("He has baited me with more questions, references, and observations, than mortal father ought to be expected to endure"), crises concerning a pet bunny, and only one moment of grown-up companionship when Mr. Herman Melville stops by to discuss eternity over cigars. This true-life story by a great American writer emerges from obscurity to shine a delightful light upon family life then and now. An introduction by noted novelist Paul Auster adds to this intimate portrait.
Originally published within the seventh folio of Hawthorne's "American Notebooks," this brief narrative shows the American writer playing Mr. Mom with his five-year-old son when his wife and daughters take a trip to visit relatives.