The introduction tells us Hawthorne valued The House of Seven Gables even over The Scarlet Letter. I still prefer The Scarlet Letter, because I so love the character of Hester Prynne. But this definitely has qualities that deserve it to be thought of as in the first rank of 19th century American literature, and I greatly enjoyed the read. And indeed this tale of a family curse is, believe it or not, a lot sunnier than The Scarlet Letter. There so much that's rich here. The vocabulary, the imagery and certain scenes are burned into my memory--particularly that of Judge Pynchon seated in a certain oak chair. It would take Hitchcock or Spielberg to do justice to that scene. And poor Hepzibah and Clifford are such vivid characters--even minor secondary characters like the small urchin Ned Higgins who provides some of the humor in the story. Phoebe alas is only the usual 19th century heroine, such an angel you expect birds to weave ribbons into her hair. I found the romance fairly predictable. But there's a lot more to the book than that. I especially found interesting the theme--touched upon by both Clifford and Holgrave--of how the weight of history, ancestry, heredity, even just the stones of an old manse can crush individuals and families beneath them.