Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pre Pub Book Buzz - Hester by Paula Reed

I received an email from Unbridled about a week ago about a cross-promotion they were doing with St. Martins Press. They're sort of calling it "Dueling Scarlet Letter sequels." How fun!

Now, Scarlet Letter was not one of my favorite high school reading list books. I have a friend who's an English grad student and she's always tried to spin Hawthorne in a way that would appeal to me. Unfortunately, I think the damage was done all those years ago.

But I might have been wrong. The upcoming release of Paula Reed's Hester, which continues the story of Hester Prynne and daughter Pearl, has inspired Unbridled to launch a concurrent publicity plan for one of their backlist titles, Angel and Apostle by Deborah Noyes.

Noyes's book hit shelves in 2006 and also continues the story begun in The Scarlet Letter. Here's the synopsis from Unbridled:

At the end of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel, The Scarlet Letter, we know that Pearl, the elf-child daughter of Hester Prynne, is somewhere in Europe, comfortable, well set, a mother herself now. But it could not have been easy for her to arrive at such a place, when she begins life as the bastard child of a woman publicly humiliated, again and again, in an unrelentingly judgmental Puritan world.

With a brilliant and authentic sense of that time and place, Deborah Noyes envisions the path Pearl takes to make herself whole and to carve her place in the New World. Beautifully written with boundless compassion, Angel and Apostle is a heart-rending and imaginative debut in which Noyes masterfully makes Hawthorne’s character her own.

Reed's book hits shelves on February 16. Here's the synopsis from Reed's website:

Upon the death of her demonic husband, Hester Prynne is left a widow, and her daughter is left a wealthy heiress. Together they travel to England where Hester seeks a quiet life-only to find herself drawn into the circle of the most powerful Puritan of all time, Oliver Cromwell.

From the moment Hester donned the famous scarlet letter, it instilled in her the power to see the sins and hypocrisy of others, an ability not lost on the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth. To Cromwell, Hester's sight is either a sign of sorcery or a divine gift that Hester must use to assist the divinely chosen in his scheming to control England. Since sorcery carries a death sentence, Hester is compelled against her will to use her sight to assist Cromwell. She soon finds herself entangled in a web of political intrigue, espionage, and forbidden love.

Sweeping, engaging historical fiction, Hester will carry readers away to seventeenth century England with a deeply human story of family, love, history, desire, and the human ideal.

Two books inspired by one classic. Two very different takes on the futures of the characters involved. Undoubtedly two great reads just based on reviews thus far. I've been reading Noyes's release and can tell you that her lyrical writing makes for a totally engrossing read. Pearl as a strong-willed child growing up and being given more of a voice is a very appealing to even me, who has admitted to grudgingly making my way through Scarlet Letter over ten years ago.

And thanks to Noyes and Reed (and my sister who actually enjoyed reading Scarlet Letter in her own English class just last year, and my friend the English major) I'm thinking that Hawthorn might deserve another look now that I'm older and more mature (and now that I'll be choosing to read it on my own).

Deborah Noyes, according to her bio, has written multiple books for both children and adults. Her latest book, Captivity, is due out from Unbridled in June.

Paula Reed is an English teacher here in Colorado with a collection of historical romance novels already released.


Paula Reed said...

I hadn't heard about this, but it sounds brilliant! Now I'm going to have to run out and read Noyes's novel. Someone mentioned it to me after Hester had sold, but I haven't read it yet.

As for the original Scarlet Letter, my best advice is this--if you're having trouble getting started with it, skip the introduction, "The Custom House," and go straight to chapter one.

Becky LeJeune said...

Thanks for the tip, Paula!