Angel and Apostle
At the close of The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne speaks of the angel and apostle as a woman of beauty and purity who will someday reveal the truth of sacred love between woman and man. Hester has returned to her New England cottage to live out her life. She receives correspondence and expensive gifts from someone living in Europe—someone close to her. We’re left with the hope that it is Pearl.
For readers who miss Hawthorne’s fine writing style, Deborah Noyes has given us a wonderful gift with Angel and Apostle. Her prose is descriptive and moves at a fine pace. The story begins in Puritan Boston of the mid-seventeenth century. Hester’s eleven-year-old daughter, Pearl, runs wild about the countryside and seashore. The child’s only friend is Simon, a blind boy near her own age, who will come to know her better than anyone. She also becomes acquainted with Dr. Devlin, a stranger to her but not to her past. His relationship with Hester and Reverend Dimmesdale is at the core of the narrative.
When Pearl has grown to maturity, Simon’s handsome brother, Nehemiah, desires her, and they are wed. They return to London where she and Simon, now her “brother,” are once more thrust to the forefront of the story. Had Pearl been in Boston instead of London at the time of her own transgression, she, too, could have worn the scarlet “A” upon her breast.
I enjoyed every page of this debut novel. The ending surprised me, but that’s the beauty of good storytelling. Ms. Noyes captures the heart of the time period, and I think Mr. Hawthorne would have liked this story, too.