On July 28, 1851, Nathaniel Hawthorne's wife Sophia and daughters Una and Rose left their house in Western Massachusetts to visit relatives near Boston. Hawthorne and his five-year-old son Julian stayed behind. How father and son got along over the next three weeks is the subject of this tender and funny extract from Hawthorne's notebooks.
"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.