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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 38.
- Review Date: 2009-11-23
- Reviewer: Staff
In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne hints that after Hester Prynne's husband and lover die, Hester and her daughter, Pearl, travel abroad. In her inventive if implausible debut, Reed takes this suggestion and runs wild with it, beginning with Pearl's inheritance of a small fortune. Eager to start anew, Hester uses the money to travel to England with Pearl and to find a suitable marital match. Upon arrival, Hester reunites with a childhood friend whose husband is an ally of Oliver Cromwell, and when Cromwell learns of Hester's magical ability to see other people's sins, he recruits her to help ferret out those plotting against him. She acquiesces, only to become deeply embroiled in political intrigue that threatens to destroy the new life she's created. A few romantic trysts spice up the story and result in some un-Puritan-like scenarios, though it's hard to imagine Hester using a word like “cock” or describing postcoital “shudders of pleasure.” Pearl has been similarly revised, though Reed frequently puts words into the precocious girl's mouth that are stilted and wise beyond her years. Nevertheless, in revisiting this classic, Reed has created an entertaining and unlikely sequel. (Feb.)