Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hester-Paula Reed

Paula Reed
St. Martin’s, Feb 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312583927

One year after the confession by Arthur Dimmesdale that he sired the wild child on Hester Prynne, her cuckold raging spouse Roger Chillingworth dies. To Hester's shock, her estranged spouse leaves a fortune to eight years old Pearl. Wanting Pearl to be accepted, Hester decides to use the money to leave hateful Boston for London, where she once enjoyed the gaiety of life.

Hester quickly realizes you can't go home as Cromwell the Protector runs the country with an iron fist that makes the Massachusetts Bay Colonists look like hedonists. Besides banning dancing and closing down the theaters and most other public entertainment places, the required wardrobe is an ugly gray. Still Hester and Pearl move in with her friend Mary Wright and her children to the rejoicing of both families. That changes when Mary's dour rigid spouse Robert comes home. He informs Cromwell of Hester's second sight skill that enables her to identify sinners and she is used by the Protector to do so. Feeling sick to her stomach over so many deaths she caused, Hester secretly joins a Royalist restoration group that makes her an ally of King Charles II trying to take the throne.

The where are they now sequel to the female stars of The Scarlet Letter is an entertaining tale although some of the heat seem more suited in a modern context than the Cromwell era and Pearl is to precocious for an ostracized preadolescent. Still this is a fun historical as Paula Teed answers the question what happened to Hester and Pearl after they leave the colonies.

Harriet Klausner

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