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"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 ...
"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 life—then and now.
Posted April 26, 2010
This is the best book I have read this year. This slim volume comes courtesy of writer Paul Auster who discovered hiding within the pages of Hawthorne's notebooks, the story of twenty summer days from July 28th to August 16th 1851 that writer Nathaniel Hawthorne spent looking after his young son, Julian and his pet rabbit, Bunny (as his wife, Sophia went to visit relatives with the couple's two daughter's, Una and Rose). The trouble starts as soon as young Julian becomes aware that the baby is gone and is free to make as much noise as he pleases, exercising his lungs with screams and shouts. I have given copies of this book to a few expected fathers as it captures both the exasperation and the tenderness that comes with being a Dad. No other writer quite writes about children and childhood the way that Hawthorne so effortlessly does. The book also includes a visit by writer Herman Melville, who charms Julian and smokes cigars and chats with Hawthorne late into the night. Also, for the sake of curiosity be sure to read what becomes of young Julian by checking out the biography, Hawthorne: a Life by Brenda Wineapple.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 30, 2003
This is a lovely book - I have only read the Danish translation which unfortunately does not have a photograph of Julian - but I think a lot of people will enjoy the description of the relationship between the very active five year old and his kind and tolerant father - it is amazing that this summer was 150 years ago. It is funny and sweet and while I have always found Hawthorne difficult to read this is not the case here - and the foreword by Auster is perfect to make one understand the book much better. Five stars to both Auster and Hawthorne.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.